My feminist heroes

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I saw a question on zine forum tonight – who is your feminist hero? I wanted to post an answer on there, but decided to do it here instead cos this blog is more familiar than a forum thread. Blogging feels less confrontational.

My feminist heroes are my mum and grandmother. No, there’s been no history of bra burning or marching with hairy armpits for payrises – their feminist strength has been in the way they’ve lived their lives. To put this in perspective…

Mid-20th century, my grandma with minimal government schooling worked her way up through a public hospital career to become a midwife. When my grandfather died, she and my grandfather’s first wife (yes, this was a Chinese polygamous marriage) raised seven children, relying on grandma’s job and domestic entrepreneurial sense for income.

My mum, though the greatest proponent for “behaving more ladylike” while I was growing up, is very much a modern, independent person. Maybe old-fashioned by today’s standards, when compared to today’s feminist icons, but given the era, the culture, I consider her very unconventional – admirably so. The mother I’ve come to know decides the right thing for herself, never mind if someone else says it’s feminist or not; she will fight back against unfairness, whether it comes from man or woman, and won’t be talked down to or taken for a fool.

For me, feminism is about taking personal responsibility and owning who you are, owning your choices. This is not to say that the protests and movements of years gone don’t inspire change – more that I prefer to do it quietly, and feel more affinity for the quietly powerful women who effect change personally in their own lives first.