International Women's Day: Personal Perspective

Happy International Women's Day! As the website states, International Women's Day celebrates the social, political, and economic achievements of women throughout history; in some countries it is treated as a sort of Valentine's Day/Mother's Day hybrid holiday. There is much to be said when it comes to the amazing women we've come to admire for their strength, from Abigail Adams to Michelle Obama. In the spirit of the day's more personal meaning, I'd like to acknowledge the woman who I've come to realize has positively shaped my life in more ways than I ever previously thought.

Dear Mama-
Of course it's you. I realize that for some women, their mothers may not be first on their list of people who gave them strength, or even in their lives at all. For that alone I feel I've been lucky, but I have to thank you for some other things. When I told you I wanted to be president but I didn't think I could because there hadn't ever been any women presidents, you told me I should be the very first one. You gave me a pink baby blanket and a toy kitchen set, but didn't correct when brother cooked a plastic egg over-easy while I built a LEGO house. You let me look at art books that held drawings and photos of nude men and women, and it wasn't something shameful to be hidden, just beautiful and natural. You talked about "your cycle", not your monthly curse, with confidence and ease whenever I had questions about my period. You never told me I looked fat in what I was wearing. In fact, I can't recall you ever saying those words about your body, either. You refused to let me wear makeup in middle school (I still did- I washed it off before I came home!) and made me wait until the eighth grade to shave my legs, a long year after everyone else got permission from their moms. I was too young to start having to do that stuff, you said, and of course you ended up being right. As I came into being a young woman, you asked me if I wanted to get on birth control "just in case", and shared your story with me. I talk to you about sex as freely as I do with my best girlfriends- mostly because you ARE my best girlfriend, my rock, and the foundation for the strong woman I am today. I love you, Mama, mostly for what you've done, but especially for what you didn't do. Thank you.

I acknowledge the historical figures that paved the way for the feminist movement, and the profound impression Sylvia Plath's poetry, seeing the Vagina Monologues, and reading Cunt (among other things) made on me as a young feminist. But who knows if I would have even come to discover those things, without having this foundation so solidly built for me? At the basest level, beyond all of our feminist heroes, we all have a woman in mind. So today, write a letter to let them know you appreciate them. They may be responsible for more than you realize.

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