Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Free to...

When she graduated from college, my mother went to seminary to study to be a priest, though the Episcopal Church was not yet ordaining women. It was obviously imminent.

Except, it wasn't. The first women were ordained to the priesthood in our church five years after she finished — and they broke the rules to do it.

Two years after that, the church decided to change the rules, and the next year "regularized" the irregular priests.

Meanwhile, of course, other rules had changed — the process for becoming ordained was different, involved exams. And though my mother (and my godmother, and their friends) had jumped through all the hoops once, she had to jump through the new hoops, too. With two small children impeding her study (yes, yes, and probably making her life richer in miraculous and sacred ways — but also, unpotty-training themselves and scribbling on the sofa and and and).

Feminism was our family value, as deeply held, I'd say, as faith — and certainly intertwined with it.

Forty years ago, Marlo Thomas and Friends released Free to Be ... You and Me. Sometime in the few years after that, we owned it. Not every child of my generation is familiar with that record, but that's not my fault — I played it one million times, brought it in for show and tell, repeated lines of dialogue for the edification of my high school friends. That record was — is — spectacular, and you should read the Slate piece that came out last month about it. It's a looooong three-parter, and it is worth it.

Day 25 of my month of gratitude: I am thankful for feminism, for all the work of my mother, of all of the folks who went before her, who worked with her, who've come since. I am thankful to have been raised in a feminist household, to have been encouraged in all my traits, both those that others might dismiss as "girly" and those that might have seemed to go against my gender a generation earlier. I am thankful for the examples of strong and nurturing people of many genders, thankful for all the gains made on my behalf, thankful for the opportunity to make gains on behalf of others.

And I am very thankful to have been raised with Free to Be ... You and Me.

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