I work at a Tourism Information centre and I talk to around 300 people a day. I mostly give directions or answer questions about campgrounds or what we grow in our fields (Saskatchewan), but quite often the conversation turns from pointing to a street on a map to personal questions. Sometimes I get asked about what I’m taking in school, my ethnic background, and often times, my tattoo. And since the people asking me are mere strangers, I don’t give them a long explanation but there is more to it than a couple of sentences.
My journey with feminism has been a long one and I’ll spare you the details in the post! (But if you want to hear more, you can watch this video). Feminism has always been evident in my life, I just didn’t know the language. My biggest influence has always been my grandfather.
My grandpa is a retired history teacher, and really nurtured an appreciation for the past in me. And being the feminist he is, my grandpa made sure I knew all about the suffrage movement. He stressed the fact that women’s liberation was not give, but fought for. My voting rights as a white woman came long before the rights of women of color, which goes to show that freedom is often is a slow, and unfair process. And I figure, if white women have been able to vote for only about 100 years now, I don’t believe it’s possible that every women is a recipient of perfect equality, not even close. And while most people are aware that women in poorer countries around the world still face a heavy amount of injustice, it should also be recognized that North America still has a long way to go. The topics of the gender wage gap, women’s reproductive health, child care, etc. are all controversial, but they have to be keep being discussed so we can solve the significant questions and issues so many women face today.
My tattoo is a reminder that the rights I have today were not always mine. That they were fought for by loud women, supportive men, resilient women of colour, feminists. And my tattoo is a thank you to them. Awareness and conversation is what brings attention to the many around the world still without basic rights and the many right here with their own shackles. I will keep fighting the good fight.
Proverbs 31:8 says, “Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute.” I know that as a middle class, white, Canadian woman, I have privilege and while I didn’t ask for it and can’t do anything about it, I can use my voice. While some think getting a permanent marking on my arm is dumb, regardless of the meaning it has, I love my tattoo and love the conversations it has started with strangers I meet.