Bob and Jeff were a father and son I had the pleasure of sitting next to at Brewery Vivant a few Sunday’s ago. I naturally found myself engaging in conversation, uncovering they had never indulged in the food. I watched as their eyes unravel at the burger and beer cheese they ordered, naturally our conversation unfolded.
I learned that Bob was the father of Jeff, a Vietnam Veteran who raised his son with previously instilled qualities of patriarchal strides. Jeff explained him and his wife bought a home outside of Grand Rapids, had a few kids and his wife decided to stay home to raise them (or so he painted it to be). As they told me more about their life, I picked up on subtle hints of a patriarchal mindset and comfortable way of life. It seemed, although they were nice, that our views on a woman’s role were polar opposite.
When I told Bob and Jeff that I never owned a car, that my own two legs carried me everywhere I wanted to be, they were perplexed.
“This world is too dangerous for a pretty young girl to be alone outside, you need a strong man to protect you”. They both notioned to the young, kind man I was drinking with asking if he would protect me. Mind you, this was a young man I had found embracing my independent spirit.
Me, 4 years ago, would have immediately began preaching about women’s rights and told them to bugger off (Yes, even in the middle of a nice conversation). Instead, I continued my interaction with them, grasping my feminist strength.
The thought of having this fellow be my sole protector was, in fact, hilarious. NOT because of how I viewed his ‘manliness’ but simply because I was taught to protect myself. I am continuously uplifted by the perseverance of my young, single, biracial mother who against all odds raised me with a firm sense of self.
I’ve found bridging gaps with those we might not directly align with allow us to gain more from one another. I mean honestly, can you think of a friend or family member in your life you agree on EVERYTHING with? If your answer is yes, you’re trippin’.
My whole point in sharing this, what was a brief encounter of an older generation, is that I want my future daughters to encounter men that encourage them. Men that see no boundaries in their lifestyle choices, simply men who lift them up.
For all you young single men out there, better get it together if you ever plan on dating a feminist, especially me.
I feel that any woman can relate to this type of interaction. An interaction binding to our existence. Existence embedded to a counterpart, stronger than ourselves. Our strength is always questioned.
You can find Mariah Kennedy riding a bicycle around Eastown or East Hills neighborhoods where she plays an active role in advocacy for vibrant businesses districts, first rate neighborhood schools and year round green spaces. Mariah is invested in DIY-DIT culture and grassroots efforts that empower those within their community to ignite change. As a feminist, she finds a strong connection between women and mother nature – women are the roots that grow and nourish. As a woman, she believes we are powerful and striking. Better watch out!