First, I want to acknowledge the fact that yes, I am telling this story from atop my political soapbox, and yes, I am fully aware that you may disagree with some of the points made. That is the inherit beauty of free will, isn’t it?
I cannot think of feminism without taking a cold hard look at my life as it currently stands. Earlier this month, I wrapped up working on the biggest US Senate campaign in the country. I left South Carolina to work on this campaign, not because of party beliefs or because of all the excitement. I joined this campaign because I believed in the woman at the top of the ticket. In my mind, a victory would have blazed the trail for my own future run for office. Women politicians lead with compassion as well as their minds and hearts and there are far too few currently in office. In my opinion, politics and feminism merge together perfectly and this campaign was a prime example. This candidate in particular was a proven champion of reproductive rights and equal pay, two issues near and dear to me. I wanted her to win because I believed she would give everyone in her state a fighting chance at the American Dream. I know how important it is to trek your own path, despite life’s circumstances. Feminists push forward knowing that gender should not hinder you from having the life you want.
Growing up in the south, it was never about gender inequality. The marriage of my parents, though flawed, was always a partnership. It remains that way to this day, even though their marriage ended. In the South, we continue to have class and race issues that consume our daily lives. It is nearly impossible to focus on the equal treatment of men and women when your ethnicity is seen as subhuman. When my parents’ marriage ended, the partnership ended for quite some time. My brother and I were raised by my mother, and she raised us to be strong, smart, and self-sufficient. It wasn’t until we were teenagers that the partnership between my parents resumed but by then my brother and I were already well on our way to becoming competent and responsible young adults. My mother’s love and dedication carried us through a very difficult time in our lives’ and although our foundation was laid by both of my parent’s my mother clearly has played a larger role in influencing the woman I am today. Because of this, I consider myself a link in a long chain of strong women. These role models wear many hats, all adding up to the definition of a feminist.
When I think about the impact that my mother had on me, I realize that the majority of the principles and values I possess come from her. Everywhere I looked in my life strong women were prevalent. In retrospect, my interest in politics was a natural fit. I was always that girl who was in every club in school, and usually in leadership roles. I also maintained good grades, played sports, and had a part time job. Women were the “Jane of all trades”, having a hand in it all and making it all work. Politics to me was never about the competition, but rather the people. Righting the wrongs, seeking truth and justice, and forcing America to live up to its potential is why I am in politics and why I consider myself to be a feminist. Are these unique ideals, maybe, but to me they are just the right thing to do. This is how I envision feminism. Not as some lofty ideal, but as common, logical sense.
The conservative “War on Women” is unfortunate given the fact that it’s 2014 and there is such a thing. Haven’t we earned the right to control our own health? Don’t we deserve the right to make as much money as our male counterparts? We work just as hard and continue to press forward every day. Without our contributions, society as we know it would not be possible. If you see injustice, say something! If you see injustice, do something! Be a proud feminist and take a stand after all, it’s only the right thing to do!
LaTwyla Mathias is a political strategist and dedicated advocate and activist of HIV/AIDS currently residing in South Carolina. She enjoys writing, drawing, reading, traveling and rabble rousing. She loves performing her civic duty and pushing others to do the same.