People who have known me a long time know that my views have changed pretty drastically over the past few years. I think that is a healthy thing. Being open to growth is, in my opinion, a vital part of being a functional adult.
So, things were already shifting for me before I had my third child — a girl.
Before I actually understood what it meant to be a feminist, I didn’t think I was one. I mistakenly assumed that feminists ruined things for the rest of us by burning their bras and telling men not to open doors for them. I thought feminists were angry women who loved to hate on men.
I like having doors opened for me. I like my bras. I like men. I enjoy being a girl.
I’ll tell you a secret: Once upon a time, long, long ago, I told some friends that I didn’t think a woman could ever be capable of running the United States of America.
I know. I said that. I actually believed that. It’s mortifying.
“Men are better at that stuff,” I actually said. WTF. I cringe every time I think about this, but I’m trying to set the stage for my story.
Thankfully, I’ve been fortunate enough to have very patient, smart friends who didn’t ditch me when I said women aren’t capable of running a nation, who taught me that feminism does not mean that you don’t want to be a girl or to be treated like a woman worthy of respect. Being a feminist means that you embrace your gender and celebrate it. Feminists believe that girls can be and do anything, that they deserve equal pay and opportunities, and most of all, they encourage each other to be brave and bold because feminists believe in the power of women.
Some feminists, like myself, choose to quit their soul-sucking corporate career to stay home and raise a family. Other feminists choose to skip marriage and children and sail the world’s oceans instead. Feminism means that we do what we want because women are capable of making our own decisions. Period.
So not only did I realize that I am a feminist, but I also realized that I’m in charge of raising three other humans to recognize and believe in the power of women. That’s a tall order, but one that I’ve embraced with pride. Teaching my daughter to be brave and bold has been one of my greatest joys as a mother. Seeing her stand up for herself, rather than shrinking away in fear, fills my heart with warm, cuddly fuzzies.
On Halloween, we took the kids trick-or-treating in a friend’s neighborhood. A little boy (his father later said he was 5 years old) dressed as a policeman was driving down the sidewalk in a ginormous, battery-powered, child-sized cop car.
Pepper walked over to the boy and pulled on the passenger door.
“I want a ride,” she said.
All of the adults oohed and ahhed. Look how cute this is! The little ladybug wants a ride in the cop car! This is so adorable! Get your camera out!
“Give her a ride, Jimmy!” Jimmy’s mom leaned over and removed the bucket of Halloween candy from the passenger seat. Pepper pulled the door open and climbed in before turning to the boy and saying in her loud, clear, voice, “You’re in my seat.”
The boy just looked at her, so she said it again, louder this time, and with conviction, “You’re in my seat.”
Thus began an epic stare down between Jimmy and Pepper. He looked at her like he was unsure of what to do and frankly a little scared, and she looked at him like he best get his ass out from behind that steering wheel.
I stifled my laughter as I watched his parents silently freak out that their son was being bossed around by a girl in front of other people. After a few moments, Jimmy gave in and let Pepper have the driver’s seat.
She assumed her position and immediately gunned it, and I thought to myself that I’ve literally never been prouder.