By Sarah E. Boucher
Feminism gets a bad rap. The term has been twisted to convey something far different than its original definition:
- the theory of the political, economic, and social equality of the sexes
- organized activity on behalf of women’s rights and interests
Basic. Elegant. Yet somehow feminism has become associated with radical behavior, extremely liberal opinions, and pointing the finger of blame at men, politicians, society, etc.
I’m a 40-year-old woman from rural Utah who teaches kindergarten and writes Young Adult novels. I refuse to support action that harms, demeans, or degrades others whose sex, age, political views, or religion differ from mine. And since today’s predominant strategy for promoting women’s rights is shouting your grievances at the top of your lungs, I tend to distance myself from it. The kindergarten teacher in me can’t see the difference between that strategy and the kid who declares himself (or herself) King of the Jungle Gym and enforces his (or her) claim through a series of playground scuffles.
I’ve seen my fair share of intolerance. I live in a particularly diverse area in Northern Utah where there is often tension resulting from differing political standpoints, religious beliefs, and even warring gangs. Local Pastor Monica Hall stated, “[There is] a natural tendency to draw distinctions and define each other. Definitions such as: she is Muslim, he is black, she is Presbyterian, he is Latino, they are Mormon, etc. . . . Such definitions can draw boundaries of who WE are and who THEY are. These boundaries can be dangerous. They can be dangerous when we use the boundary of division to ignore human needs.”
That’s my main issue with “feminism”. When we paint ourselves as victims and everyone else as aggressors, there’s no one left to explore solutions to the common problems we face.
Actress Emma Watson had plenty to say on the subject. “If we stop defining each other by what we are not and start defining ourselves by who we are, we can be much freer.”
In my classroom alone, I encounter bias, misconceptions, and intolerance. Kids already have a lot of baggage by the time they step into my room. I do my best to employ a practice that reaches hearts, souls, and minds. It’s called Love. Love and Listen.
If all we do is scream about the world’s injustices, nothing will ever change. But if we take on our noble role as women who lead, nurture, teach, inspire, and uplift, we can effect change.
Author Nora Ephron summed it up beautifully. “Above all, be the heroine of your own life.”
That’s what I want. That’s MY prime goal as a feminist; to be the best me I can be and to bring as many women, girls, mothers, and sisters along with me as possible.
Author Francesca Lia Block said, “Just like any woman . . . we weave our stories out of our bodies, some of us through our children, or our art; some do it just by living. It’s all the same.”
I effect change in my classroom and in my novels, with my students, friends, and family. I stand up for what I believe and I refuse to hide who I am. I am a woman and I am powerful. And I believe in the power of love and kindness.
Sarah E. Boucher is a lover of fairy stories, romance, anything BBC and Marvel, and really, really cute shoes. On weekdays she wears respectable shoes and serves as Miss B., the Queen of Kindergarten. On school holidays she writes stories about romance and adventure. And wears impractical super cute shoes.
Sarah is a graduate of Brigham Young University. She lives and works in northern Utah. Her novels include Becoming Beauty and Midnight Sisters. Visit SarahEBoucher.com or connect on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram.