Some Thoughts on Strength (i.e. Not Afraid to Say I Am a Feminist)

Some Thoughts on Strength (i.e. Not Afraid to Say I Am a Feminist)

I am a humanist, and by default, that makes me a feminist.

I used to feel weird with that term…it seemed akin to saying, “I know the struggle, sisters!” when I really don’t.

But in ways…while I can’t say I know the struggle completely, I can at least sympathize.

Single Mom; Big Sister

My parents divorced when I was five years old
. My father became a summer thing — someone I saw during summer break; someone who had little bearing on the man I became. The women in my life shaped the man I’d later become. I’m proud of the man I became, and I owe much of that to my mother and my sister.

My father resented that in ways. During summers, he tried turning me into the angry bigot he became, and when I would not abide, he blamed it on my mother — even though it was my own innate morals that prevented me from being swayed.

In that move — blaming my mother for me not becoming the son he wanted — it became clear to me that there were men in the world who would brand certain women Jezebels. If only my father could have seen the angry drunk I saw.

(For all my father’s faults, he was a very loving man with us — even when drunk…which was kind of all the time. It is not my intent to slam on those long gone who cannot defend themselves, but I also refuse to elevate the dead to some higher stature simply because they are gone. My dad and I had our share of arguments, and they all ended with him feeling shamed and me feeling bad that I scolded a man I believed I should have held in much higher regard.)

Life Was Not Perfect

My mom was not always there for us. Some would hold a grudge, but as I grew older and my mom became my friend, I got it. My mom was handed the shit end of the stick. My father paid $120 a month in child support for my sister and me and, if he didn’t feel like taking us for the weekend, my mom was left with the fallout. My mom was also flawed — most of us are when we are younger, so this is not a case of “Mom was better than Dad.” By their own admissions, they both — at times — professed that they should not have had children together. (This never bothered me, but it bothered my sister.)

My mom was a keypunch operator. By that, I mean she punched keys on cards that were inserted into rudimentary computers to run statistics for an insurance company. She busted her ass while my father was sometimes in between jobs and sometimes couldn’t pay the $120 a month he owed for my sister and me. My mom, to my knowledge, never gave him shit for that.

Da Bitchez!!!

My father, as much as he loved me, was a bigot and a misogynist. My mother was the bitch who left him; my step mother was a cunt who deserved to die when she left him. Everything was everybody’s fault but his own.

This was my male role model.

Even sadder, I know more than a handful of men who make my father seem like Jane Fonda.

I never understood branding a gender as harpies when I could look at the men throwing out that name and see all their faults. Even today, I know men who look at the rare exception of a woman screwing over a guy and saying that’s the way “all bitches be,” and getting mad at those of us who say, “Are you calling my wife and all the other women in my life ‘bitches?'”

When Friends Breed

When I was 20, a friend announced he got his girlfriend pregnant. It was a boy…and almost 25 years later, they are still together — with another boy and a girl…smart young men and a young women about to have their shot at ruling the world.

A very good friend has two daughters; my best friend has a daughter and wonders what the future has in store for her. I like to think that they will have the shot I have — maybe even more.

How can a man look at the women and girls in his life he cares for and not call himself a feminist?!


I saw a quote by John Marcotte today:

John Marcotte quote: "Don't allow men who hate women to define feminism as women who hate men."

Check out

I don’t get it: any man who has lived long enough has, at some point, met a woman who’s important to him. For me, early on, it was my mother and my sister. I’m not saying they are/were perfect (my sister died when I was 33 and she was 38), but they were vital to who I am. My wife and I have been together for more than 22 years — how could I not want the best for her?! I look at female friends and the daughters of friends — and to even think they are somehow less than male friends would make me a loser if I felt that way.

I do not feel the need to protect these women any more than I feel the need to protect any friend, but I see these women taking more shit than the men and guys I know.

And that’s why I don’t mind saying I am a feminist. It still feels a bit weird, I’ll admit. It’s a word that I feel I can’t lay claim to because…well, I pee standing up — and while I do not have the privilege of some white males, I’d be lying if I said I’ve lived a life without some privilege.

The Cockroach Effect

There are people in the world who seem very loud: tea party ranters, flat-earth embracers, and others of that ilk. But it’s a death rattle — the prattling of those who feel their easy ride to a snug and smug life is being denied.

They are being buried, lost in the wake of even young conservatives who see that their gay friends marrying is not the end of the world. They are loud because they’re living on borrowed time and being buried by progress.

Much like that, men who hate women fume. They say women who are raped are “lying bitches,” and they turn their 8th-grade views of women into a false realities and then scream that they are being oppressed more than any other group on the planet when their hate is called out for what it is.

As long as tiny man-boys like that exist, I will have no problem saying, “Yes, I am a feminist!”


  1. I’ve seen a backlash against (the word) feminism lately. Many vocal people have re-defined feminism to mean male-bashing and politically correct gender-based victimhood. It’s unfortunate. They instead prefer the term “equal rights,” which seems to gloss over the best of what feminism used to be.

  2. Christopher Gronlund says

    I think that’s why the Marcotte quote hit me — you hear the word, and suddenly you see women even saying, “I’m not a feminist…” because of negative connotations. Chuck Wendig wrote a good piece about Feminist vs. Equalist:

    It’s weird to me because I was brought up in a family without a kid’s table and I had a great aunt who owned an art gallery. On that side of the family, there was no line: everyone had an equal say, and it was not beyond the dreams of women on my mother’s side to believe they could do anything. More than that, they were encouraged to do anything they wanted to do. Then I’d go visit my Dad’s grandparents and my grandfather would sit on the couch in his tighty-whities and either a Cubs cap or Bears cap (depending on the season) and shout, “Ann! Coffee!!!” and my grandmother would drop whatever she was doing to get his lazy ass a cup.

    It’s no wonder I identified more with my mom’s side of the family.

  3. In my family, my grandmother on my mother’s side ruled. My parents had split up (they were never married) and my dad’s relatives lived clear across the country. We had a “kid’s table” at my grandmother’s house, and the adults’ rule was pretty much “because I said so.” Had my mother been born male, she would’ve inherited the family trucking business, which covered much of the Midwest. Instead, it was sold to a distant relative, and my single mother and her kids were the “poor side” of the family. I saw a lot of male favoritism growing up, it was ingrained throughout my family. My mother blatantly favored my brother over me – something my brother took full advantage of.

  4. Christopher Gronlund says

    I was very fortunate in that favorites weren’t played in my family. I think in some ways, whichever one of us needed the most help between my sister and me, they tended to get it. For some reason, I had a pretty strong resolve from childhood, so in some ways — even though my sister was older — she was allowed to slide a bit more.

    The only time I can remember sitting at a kid’s table was on rare occasion at my mom’s mother’s place when there were just so many people there, and a table was set up in the basement for kids. (It was a renovated basement, so it’s not like, “To the dungeon with the children!”) That was rare.

    It’s sad that there’s this sense of, “Businesses must be passed on to males or sold,” and so many other things people do. The two best managers I’ve worked for were women. At an old job, the only projects that ever came in on time were one of those managers and she was the only person who really thanked us with time off or a six-pack and an early release. Just little things. But what was remarkable about her: if someone “messed something up,” the first thing she did was look at the process and what she put in place that led to the issue because she believed that a manager shouldn’t work with a poor team, so…if the team was good — and she believed it was — the first place to look was what she could have made stronger or more clear.

    My current manager is a woman, and if there was ever a manager who could take a, “We don’t know what we want, but this project is very important and we need someone to figure out what it is and how to it,” it’s her. Sadly, a project like that has come up and she’s moving on from our group this week.

    Hell, thinking about it…the manager I had in between the two jobs mentioned was also one of my best managers, and that manager was also a woman.

    So to think that women can’t run things…never made sense to me.


  1. […] We don’t cut ourselves slack in this episode — find out if either of us have ever made what could be deemed a sexist statement (and what those statements were). The flip-side of that: find out what feminist statements we’ve made. (Hell, Christopher once wrote this.) […]

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