I am a feminist

Editor’s Note: Author Ashley Ezerski is a student in the fall 2010 Women’s Studies Program Special Topics course, That Chick is Crazy: Women and Madness, at The University of Akron.

You’re not a feminist unless you love mothers. Yes, stay-at-home mom here — party of four– and I’m one of them feminists too!

Don’t get me wrong, some women don’t want to stay home and raise children, and hey,that’s fine! If you don’t want children– then you simply shouldn’t. But I can say for myself that I am a feminist, and I am an awesome mother as well.

My first child was born when I was only eighteen years old. Hell no, I wasn’t ready to have children, but there I was raising one. And so far I’ve done the best I could.

Over the years I have had to endure many looks because I appeared to be a sixteen-year-old with three or four children. At one point I had to stop caring about what others thought and just thought of the look on their faces as a sign of some lingering illness. I am a wife, I am a mother, I am a feminist: Hear me roar!

When my daughter was about six, she shared a conversation with the lady next door. Isabella, my daughter, asked the neighbor’s daughter why she played with baby dolls. The neighbor said because they teach you how to be a mother.

My daughter replied, “Well, babies come out of your vagina, and I am not doing that!”

I can’t help but laugh every time I think of this because obviously I did something right. My daughter at six didn’t feel she had to follow in her mother’s footsteps; she knew she could think for herself.

Wow, I’m one freaking cool mom!

So what makes me a feminist? I take care of my fellow women. I raise my boys to love and respect women, and I raise my daughters to love and respect themselves. Sometimes I worry myself because I care so much,but then you just have to run with it. If you’re passionate about something, it must be important. Right?

During the years of my pregnancies I suffered from something I believed didn’t exist called postpartum depression. Well, I will let you in on the secret, it exists! This illness made me grow up.This illness made me a better mother and friend. This illness made me a feminist.

We think of pregnancy as an illness, but it’s not. Pregnancy can be a wonderful part of a woman’s life, if she chooses.  But it takes more than a pregnancy to make a joyful woman and baby; it takes support. If anything – you must have support. And if you don’t – reach out and give support because trust me, being a mother is often lonesome. I know this because I am a mother, but I understand this because  I am a feminist.

Some like to define what a feminist is by trying to define what they are, and that’s fine. But please do not label me. Labeling goes against the feminist idea. Support your idea of feminism by activism, whatever that may be. Just don’t limit yourself to one idea.

I am a mom, I am a student, I am a wife, friend, lover, a bisexual, daughter, cousin, sister, mentor, and I am a feminist.

How trying to write a blog essay is driving this chick crazy

Editor’s Note: The author, Laura Stuart, is a student in the fall 2010 Women’s Studies Program Special Topics course, That Chick is Crazy: Women and Madness, at The University of Akron.

Writer’s block sucks.

You have this great idea for an essay rolling around in your brain. You’ve mentally sorted out what and where every A to Z belongs. Getting this thing written down occupies your every thought, and you can barely focus on anything else.

You sit down at the computer, a fresh Word document ready to go, a cup of coffee sitting on the desk.

Nothing happens.

It’s enough to make a writer go crazy. I admit that I have had full-on hissy fits over essays that failed to materialize right away. I curse myself, the computer, and the entire literary world for my shortcomings. Sometimes I wish I could just stick a USB cable into my brain and let its contents spill onto the screen. Then again, I’d also be terrified of what that would be.

The little voice in my head tells me that I’ll never make it as a writer, and I might as well go reapply for my old burger-flipping job. If I’m lucky, when 3 a.m. rolls around, I will have managed to scratch up something that I’m sure is pure crap just because I want to get it over with and go to bed.

Once it has been printed, read, and in some cases graded, I refuse to look at it ever again for fear that I will literally die of embarrassment for daring to allow this thing to see the light of day.

Heck, half the time a thing doesn’t get written because I fear that it is terrible.

Maybe it is self-destructive to think that way about my writing. It can’t be that bad, can it? There are probably a lot of folks out there who experience writer’s block and don’t feel the need to whine about it like I am. This being National Novel Writing Month, there’s probably quite a lot of people struggling to write 50,000 words in only 30 days, and turn off the inner editor.

I only have to write a measly page.

I could attribute this insecurity to what Sandra Gilbert and Sarah Gubar describe as “anxiety of authorship” in their chapter “Infection in the Sentence.” They describe the obstacles faced by women writers trying to make it in the male-dominated literary world a few centuries ago. The simple act of being female made it difficult to even get their work looked at, yet alone taken seriously.

The woman’s duty was to make babies and make dinner. How dare she over-exert her fragile female mind by trying to be a writer? Also, what could she possibly write about that’s worth reading about?

No wonder that writers like Jane Austen would often downplay their writing, telling others that it’s no big deal. It’s just some silly little thought, really.

Even today, I still feel like I’m wasting my time trying to be a writer, especially as a woman. It’s especially discouraging when I consider that one of most successful women writers at the moment has met success writing about her abusive boyfriend vampire . . . who sparkles.

Maybe I shouldn’t let it get to me. Maybe I ought to just write, no matter what. I should ignore my inner critic. I should accept the good grades and the praise I get from strangers.

Instead of letting writer’s block drive me mad, I should let writing be my salvation.