Sharing my wisdom, an older feminist’s reflections, part 1

“Nana, what’s the worst thing you’ve ever done?” my eleven-year-old grandson asked.

“Picked my nose,” I answered.

“No, seriously.”

Seriously? What can a child understand about bad things adults do?

If someone asks what life has taught me, I’m not one to spout clichés that promote a positive attitude. Neither will I suggest a “stop-and-smell-the-roses” philosophy. Mine is more the “beware-the-thorns” life view.

Unfortunately, I’ve discovered, we learn best from our mistakes. I’ve certainly made my share. I confused sex with intimacy, betrayed those who truly love me. I’ve also been privy to blunders other women have made. Our mistakes help explain why many older women, if we weren’t feminists in our younger years, certainly are now.

Today I hear young women say, “I’m not a feminist.” As if there’s no longer a need to analyze women’s conditions both globally and locally. Sure, American women today work at jobs held only by men when I was considering career options in college.

Yet I watch movies and TV, read the newspapers. (I want to be clear here: I don’t blame rape and other crimes against women on the behavior of the women themselves.) What I see and read inspire me to share an observation based on my own mistakes and those of other women:
Men benefit when we wear clothes that reveal much of our bodies;
Men benefit when we believe that sex is the path to intimacy;
Men benefit when we drink and lose our inhibitions.

It’s time for a new stage of feminism, one that says I will not live my life according to men’s pleasures.

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