This was the third time I was looking under my car while trying to keep my balance on its hood. How had my Monday morning become about questioning my values? Just a few minutes ago, I was impressed with myself, as I waltzed to my car, checking for the essentials; Oil… check, Windshield Fluid… check, Coolant…. almost checked, just before I had let the cover of the coolant compartment slip from my hands, descending into the engine. After failed attempts of trying to maneuver my hand down the engine, I knew I had to get into proper mechanic position: laying on the floor and sticking my head under the car, to retrieve it. Talk about irritated, I embodied that feeling. How exactly is this going to work? I consider how big my crochet afro is while measuring the distance between under my car and the ground, I think about how I have to be at work in 2 hours, I also think about how cold and wet the ground is thanks to the melted snow, and then I let it happen, I let myself wish there is a man who doesn’t have to worry about his hair or the wetness of the floor, to fetch the cap under the car for me.
I gasp so loud, I committed the cardinal sin! A feminist? Isn’t it sexist to think a man is best suited to go under the car, just because he is a man? How dare I need a man for something? Oh what joy the “you’ll be 40 and lonely,” crew will have if they knew. I decide not to let them win, so I stomp back in the house, grab an old sweater, and stomp back outside, I am a woman on a mission. I try different positions to help effectively get my head under the car with my big hair, all while hating it, but to no avail. I feel myself tear up…
If I was being honest, over this past year some of the comments associating feminists with hating men had started to get on my nerves, along with so many other slanderings about the cause. I took up the challenge to become the ultimate feminist, a challenge to prove the worth of the cause. Problem is, there is no ultimate feminist. For many of us African women, we’ve had to figure out what fighting for the “political, social, and economic equality of the sexes” mean personally to us in a world and culture that doesn’t encourage that sort of vigor. In figuring that out, we’ve made mistakes, we’ve made great choices, but we’re all learning. Often we forget that even feminists were born in and have been influenced by years of patriarchal conditioning and shaping. In figuring things out I’ve discovered, feminism is also about appreciating my feminine power, that ‘Equality’ doesn’t mean ‘Sameness,’ and this morning I was going to learn the importance of Choice in regards to Feminism. The choice to be a feminist and a housewife, the choice to be a feminist and Christian, the choice to be a feminist and have no interest in being a mechanic or being under a car, the choice to wish I have a man to get dirty for me, with his head under my car (pun intended), and other unpopular choices we still need the audacity to make. In many ways knowing we have freedom or should have freedom of choice as feminists haven’t deterred the need to box our choices to fit traditional and even “feminist” expectations. We often exercise our choices within the boundaries of our social conditioning including myself. I needed to learn that as long as my expectation don’t perpetuate the values and systems I stand against, doesn’t oppress or harm, I was well within my bounds.
Minutes of fighting back my tears had helped me realize this, so I picked up my phone and begged my mechanic from two streets away to come find the cover, wiped my buttocks of sand and appreciated the lesson in figuring this feminism thing out.
What have you learned in your journey as a Feminist?