Becoming a feminist isn’t something I set out to do, it is something that I became, somewhat without my own realization.
I have always been a strong woman. Growing up Native (of Ute ancestry, to be exact), imperfect in media’s eyes (I was overweight and acne-ridden) in the middle of the middle class, I learned something about playground justice, something about equality. Whether it was that experience or the constant pull to fight injustice, I aimed my educational goals toward a career in law enforcement. At the time, (the early- to mid- ’90s), the field was male-dominated and I had to learn to survive among my peers, while still sustaining my desire to be feminine and to understand and empathize with the women who came into the justice system through crimes or their own criminality.
It became overwhelming, and I changed my major to support my new-found fitness. By the late ’90s, I was a Personal Trainer with a degree in exercise physiology and on the verge of owning my own gym. It was in this career that I really started to understand my role as a woman. Beyond cooking, beyond sexuality, and far beyond the home, I began to experiences injustices in relationships, both personal and business. I was in Texas at the time, admired for my strength as a business woman and fitness advocate, but still locked out of the good ol’ boys club. At our Chamber of Commerce meetings, I was asked to serve the iced tea.
Though annoyed by this, and continually annoyed by the injustices served to Native Americans, I still believed that in order to succeed, I had to play into the role expected of me. Success was then still defined, at least by me, as making lots of money and moving up ladders. That was twenty years and many battles ago. My emotional and intellectual strength grew, as did my awareness of injustices toward women, especially women of color, and eventually I stopped agreeing with the idea that “that’s just the way things are.”
It would be unfair of me to say that this was sudden enlightenment. In fact, it wasn’t until I took a class last semester from an amazing poet and feminist, Alexandra Teague, that I became aware of how much of a feminist I am. A poet now (though I still teach, write, and advocate for fitness), I looked at how much of my poetry was about being female. If you have ever written poetry, you know what I mean when I say that you cannot hide from your own lines—all along mine were fighting for justice, pointing out injustices, and attempts to heal from the damage done by years of acquiescing to the patriarchy. Acknowledging this has not only made me more aware, but allows me to write more freely, to speak more openly, and to explore more ways that I might help in the battle of equality for women.
Thus, this blog. It is my hope that over the weeks and months that follow, I can lead this group of strong, smart women to explore issues that interest them and the community at large. I hope that I might make some of my own discoveries, come to new realizations, and explore them with you. I look forward to the research, I look forward to the education and to uncovering the injustices, and yes, the battles, I look forward to them, too, because even though I advocate for peace, I believe the hard-won fights, whether on paper or through continued protest, are the ones that become us, change us, and bring us to the realization of who we are and what we stand for.