Friday, March 27, 2009

The Motherscribe Interview Series: the 10th interview...

My 10th interview is with Karen. She is 50 years old and lives in Texas. She is a single working woman. She has a blog called Professor J's Place.

What does the word feminist mean to you? Has the meaning changed over time? The simplest definition is that a feminist believes that women hold up half of the sky: women are as important as men. Therefore, women are deserving of equal respect, equal rights, and equal pay.

For me, I think being a feminist also means that I have made a decision to support women whenever I have the opportunity. If I can choose a woman doctor, lawyer, grocer, whatever, I do so.

Do you consider yourself a feminist? Yes. Unashamedly.

Would others consider you a feminist? Yes.

If you are a feminist, do you feel comfortable owning that title in your everyday life? Yes.

What are some images that come to mind when you think of the women’s movement? I remember an early (perhaps the first) cover of Ms. Magazine. “The Hand that Cradles the Rock.” I remember when Billie Jean King won the tennis match with Bobby Riggs.

What was the greatest gift of the women’s movement? Consciousness raising. The idea that women and men should know themselves and their personal power. The idea that no person should feel inferior to another—for any reason.

What was the greatest failure of the women’s movement? Public Relations.

People tend to think of feminists as angry. We often were, and for good reason. Why should we not be angry? I remember when my mother was working full time, taking in extra work on the evenings and weekends, and trying to raise three girls by herself. She went to court to force my father to pay child support. The judge simply lowered the amount my father should pay from three hundred dollars a month to two-fifty. There was no effort to force my father to pay (he never did). Should my mother and the countless other women in her position be angry? Yes. Should the women who made 64 cents for every dollar a man made be angry? Yes. Should the women who were beaten or raped for being lesbians be angry? Yes.

There is less reason to be angry these days; in large part because of the women’s movement. But for some reason, the anger of some feminists has become a public relations nightmare. Even women hate feminists.

Did your mother work outside the home? yes

How did that affect you growing up? I am sure I missed having Mom around. I always respected her and knew she was doing it all for us.

What impression did that leave with you about women working outside the home? I respect them. I also respect women who are able to choose to stay home.

Who were your earliest female role models other than your mother? Eleanor Roosevelt and Judy Garland (I was a confused young girl.)

Is there an event(s) that affected you in childhood/adolescence that impacted your identity in a positive or negative way? I was sexually abused for several months when I was nine years old.

What do you do for a living? I teach.

Do you enjoy being single? I enjoy some things about it very much.

What are you looking for in a mate? I do date a lovely woman and am happy to continue to discover the nature of our relationship—so I’m single but not. The qualities I was looking for? Intelligence, great sense of humor, sensitivity, an artistic bent, a feminist, a liberal.

Do you get out regularly with friends? No, not enough. Most of my friends live far away. My friends in town are busy with their lives.

Have you ever dieted? Oh yes.

Are you happy and/or comfortable with your weight? No.

Would you describe yourself as someone with “body issues?” If so, when do you remember this starting? What do you attribute it to? I gained weight with puberty and was considered fat throughout my teen years. I didn’t really become fat until much later. I realized the resulting weight brought with it less sexual attention—I think I hold on to the weight because I believe it makes me safe.

How do you feel about aging? I don’t really like feeling sore and stiff, and I’m not at all sure about this mortality thing, but otherwise I rather like being a crone.

How do you feel about plastic surgery? I hate my droopy eyelids. But I do worry about people who want to change much about their bodies / faces.

How do you feel about the sexualizing of young women in our society? I worry about their safety and their self esteem.

Was getting married/partnered a conscious goal or focus early on in your adulthood? yes

What did you dream of being when you were a child? I dreamed of having a large house with a courtyard. My mother lived with me, as did my many children. I don’t think I had a job or a husband.

Did your mother or another caretaker talk to you about sex and what to expect? Mamma gave me a book.

What makes you feel sexy? A partner who thinks I’m sexy. A full-throated laugh. A warm hand touching me.

What turns you on? Joy. And the sure knowledge that my partner desires me.

How do you combat stress? Writing, playing with dogs, walking in the woods, talking to people, eating.

What do you yearn for? Peace. Love. Acceptance.

Are you happy with your life? Yes. Most of the time I am very happy.

Thank you, Karen.

The Motherscribe Interviews are closed to comments. For more about Karen, please find her at Professor J's Place.

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