Today is the 100th Anniversary of International Women’s Day.
I’ve been thinking about an appropriate post for today. I struggled cause there is so much I could write about for IWD2011; the continued objectification of women and young girls, continued discrepencies in wages between men and women, an Indigenous gaze at new century feminism or the role of marketing and advertising in constructing stereotypical and negative gender roles. Sadly, the struggles go on.
But in the week leading up to today, I’ve been thinking about my mum and thinking about how much of my everyday life; looking after the kids, professional projects, and volunteering, is possible because of her support. I am a feminist. My journey towards feminism really kicked in when I was at university. And the nearly twenty years since I started uni have seen me married, starting my own businesses, teaching at universities, having four children and getting them through primary and high school. While my life journey may not fit other people’s stereotyped idea of a feminist’s life, it most certainly is A feminist’s life-journey. I know this cause I am a feminist and this is my life.
A lot of what I have done in my life is because of the generosity and commitment of my mum. I doubt that Mum would call herself a feminist though. I don’t think she thinks too much about that sort of stuff. For most of my life mum has worked as a school cleaner (and she still does occasional relief cleaning despite being 65 years of age) and her life today is dominated by her husband, 4 daughters (and our husbands), 11 grandchildren, researching and documenting her family history, sewing, gardening, trying to stay healthy and spending time with her few friends.
Compared to the ‘great’ women, my mum has done little by way of achievement. She has written no great texts, given no great speeches, and taken no great actions. But today, I am choosing not to measure achievement in the very public sense of the word, cause my mum did write great texts, she wrote ‘love mum’ on notes to me when I would have late nights at uni and I wouldn’t see her for days. She has given great speeches, when she would tell me ‘it would be alright’, when I honestly didn’t think it would be ok. And she did take great actions, like getting up at 4am every morning for twenty years and cleaning classrooms. And in her retirement, she continues to take great actions everyday, she comes over and helps make my kids lunches, sews patches on their clothes, makes shark costumes for my nephew and fairy costumes for my neice, chases my kids to mow the lawn each week, and generally does everything she can to be there for all of us.
I guess my mum, Deneice Valerie Watego (nee Tuck) born 13th May 1945, Professional Cleaner (retired), won’t be ‘remembered’ in history. Like so many women, she won’t be mentioned in anyone’s who’s who, there’ll be no wikipedia page about her. The memory of her contribution to me, my family, and the world will remain within the confines of our family’s memory. But as a feminist, I acknowledge and cherish her life and the lives of so many other ‘anonymous’ women who walk the world each day doing the best they can with what they have. I hope one day I am just like you.
Thanks Mum, I love you.