|Self portrait, "Retro-Feminist" Kellee Wynne Conrad|
Someone asked the other day what I meant when I used the word “Retro-Feminist” to describe myself. Hmmm, I knew it would come up eventually, but I really have come unprepared to the discussion that I, myself, have started. I have avoided sharing much of my political, religious and social agendas on my blog because I want this to be a place where every person can feel connected when they visit and leave feeling inspired about life and the need to share through their own creative expression. But for this subject, I will give my best effort to share my feelings on life and who I am, truly and hopefully without offense.
As this blog has developed over the years I have found that its purpose it to speak openly about my own struggles as a mother, a wife, a woman and the desires I have to be an artist and a writer. But when tasked with describing myself, I have found that coming up with just the right words is difficult as I am not easily pigeonholed into a typical stereo type. So a couple years ago I came up with the idea that I am a “retro-feminist”. I do not know if the word has been used in this manner before, but I rather like the idea that a woman can take part in some homemade care-giving, stay-at-home-mom living, feminine-affirming loving and still be fully progressive and modern in thought.
I use the word "retro-feminist" to describe my domesticated state. I stay home and manage the house and home in a good old fashioned do-it-yourself kind of way. I cook and clean, grow a garden, can and sew, bake bread, decorate, cut coupons, tell stories, chauffer, make and keep appointments, and the list goes on. I do it by choice and with high respect from my husband who never asked me to stay home in the first place. In fact when we first met, he had never had an opinion one way or the other of whether women should stay home or work. I gather myself quite lucky that my desire to stay home was respected AND supported.
But there is more to me than just being proud of my job as a homemaker - I believe women should empower themselves, be educated and informed and ready to face the world. I believe they have an important voice in politics, media, business, education, religion, the arts and the world. And I believe it is under-represented. I believe that the roles and jobs women fill in this world are often times not respected, including, but not limited to homemaking. I believe that men are also harmed by sexism and gender roles, and the more we understand the inequalities that women face, the more we understand the pressures put on men and the stereotypes they have to live up to.
Until just a couple years ago I hadn’t given feminism much thought. In fact it scared me because the only thing I thought of when I heard the word was angry, rebel bra-burners who hated men….but when I freed myself from those exact stereo types we are lead to believe about women activists, I began to see the reality of where we are with women’s rights in the 21st Century and that it cannot be over looked anymore. I could cite many recent references to the news and how far back into the dark ages we are traveling at this very moment in American history, but you have heard these stories already and hopefully it has awakened your common senses about how important and relevant feminism is our seemingly modern world. To help you out, I find the examples on the site Feminist Frequency to be well thought out, informative, non-offensive discussions about how women are portrayed in our society.
This month is National Women’s History Month and the theme is empowerment.
· How will you empower yourself?
· Will you educate yourself first?
· Will you accept that staying home to care for the family is a valid and empowering career?
· Will you be proud that you had the choice to go to work and that’s what works best for you and your family?
· Will you stand up for deciding not to have a family and contributing to the world in other powerful ways?
· Will you respect the choices that your mother or grandmothers had to make in their lives using the tools they had available to them at the time?
· Will you teach your daughters their worth in the world and your sons to respect women?
· Will you honor your wife and be grateful for the work she does to provide a well cared for home every day (a gift that I am grateful my husband has given me)?
· Will you continue to open your mind and educate yourself every day so that you are not bound by what society is dictating we think about women but rather what is honorable, fair and right for all humans?
Hope I inspired you to think big about our culture and understand the point of view I come from when I describe myself. I know I am proud to take the role as a happily domesticated Retro-Feminist! I would love to hear your thoughts. And while you are here, will you join me on Facebook or follow this site and share it with your friends as I take this journey from motherhood into womanhood and on to the art world!