In several previous blog posts, I wrote about feminism and my experience from Feminist Future Helsinki Hackathon. But there is still one question unanswered: why to even try? Why address injustice and unfairness? Why speak up for yourself and others?
I somehow understand that the world I would love to live in is a kind of utopia and many problems I care about won’t be solved during my lifetime. But, I have to try for my children. I want them to be more themselves. To behave and dress in a way that feels natural to them. To become what they want, to be sensitive and strong at the same time. To overcome the obstacles patriarchy puts in their ways. To understand that we value people for who they are and how they behave regardless of social categories. I believe you can achieve a lot in education, by raising the children and being a good role model. On the other hand, there are structural issues that have to be tackled in different ways.
I also want to be a mother my children are proud of. I wish they could see me in the light, that I fight for myself and for those who can’t. By doing it I want them to understand they have to be active.
I remember the story I heard from a woman living in Finland. She stood in her hijab at the bus stop with her children, when somebody was mumbling to himself and calling her names. Her older child, who speaks Finnish, understood that this man was saying bad things about his mom, so he told this to her. This woman just replied something like let it go and she didn’t do anything. But while she was talking about her experience with me, she wasn’t happy about her reaction. I understand her completely. I understand she had a fear, she was worried that verbal attacks might become physical. She had children with her and didn’t want to endanger them. But what has her child learnt also from such a story? That we don’t do anything if somebody is calling us names, that we are often passive because we are frozen in fear…
I hope I will find strength in a similar situation to show my children different ways. To calmly but openly address this person and to show my children I am standing for myself and for them. To show them, I can overcome my worries. And not only do this when somebody is calling me names but also when somebody is mean to others. This is the beginning of feminism in the practical world. To ally with the ones in weaker positions. And to stand for what you believe in. These are the true challenges of raising a child. Only the future shows how successful I was.
We are currently in Slovakia and after one week I have already heard things like: “Boys don’t cry.” I know I will listen to more of those because this is the product of old-fashioned education. Thanks to this approach, the generation of our mothers and us is living with men who are not in touch with their emotions, who don’t know how to approach crying women or just simply be empathic and to understand the world is much more colourful than their limited privileged experience… And we have girls and women who question their skills, education, bodies and dreams, just because they don’t see their mothers fighting for themselves…
So, this is one and the most precious motivation for being a feminist. My kids should have better chances to be truly themselves. And I believe feminism can help them to achieve it much more than the patriarchy.