I try my hardest to keep my column focused on farm issues and faces, but occasionally by opinions get the best of me and I find myself furiously typing out a response or explanation to an everyday issue. This is one of those times.
After a weekend on the road with my husband, I settled on the couch this evening with a lap full of newspapers eager to catch up with local news and views. It was one such view that caught my attention. A local columnist – a young, conservative man – authored a column about feminism. He attempted to explain that one issue of today’s feminism movement would not pass muster with the feminists of our past. He, as a male, criticizes what he believes was the modern feminist movement because he didn’t believe in the one issue he thought occupied the minds and agendas of all modern feminists.
I don’t consider myself a die-hard feminist but I do believe that the feminist movement is not one that can be defined by one issue – it’s a larger social movement always changing and evolving that cannot and should not be defined by men viewing it from the outside.
Merriam-Webster defines feminism as: the theory of the political, economic, and social equality of the sexes; organized activity on behalf of women’s rights and interests
We, as women, through the very definition of feminism, have the right and liberty to define what we believe the feminism movement is about and issues are vital to today’s female population.
I write this column as I find myself with a life and passion I never dreamed of. I grew up dreaming of professional achievements – living in the big city with a high-profile career and a well-rounded family and social life. That changed when I met my husband and settled down for a life on the farm. I was fortunate to be able to continue my career but it was no longer my main focus and my dreams of big-town life came to an end. Today I am concerned with the activities of our farm, the welfare of our animals and our ability to provide safe and healthy food for ourselves and others. I will never live in downtown NYC or own a high-rise apartment. But I will raise a family on our farm and enjoy years of good times with family and friends.
And that’s OK with me. It’s part of my vision of the feminist movement, because of the accomplishments of women before me I can choose to forego the corner office in lieu of supporting my husband’s chosen way of life, which has now become my way of life. And unlike the past, when it was only sons that could return home to take over the farm, daughters are increasingly finding themselves taking the reigns and leading the operation into the next generation. That’s progress and it’s something that excites me. Women are leading farm and agriculture organizations and taking leadership roles throughout the industry.
The agriculture industry is one of thousands of industries that has benefited from the development of women. The entire U.S. economy can attribute at least some of its growth and expansion to the willpower and push of the female population to do better, reach higher and break new barriers.
And that’s what the feminist movement is all about. The women who lead the feminist movements of the past would likely be surprised by the issues that plague women of today but that doesn’t mean they wouldn’t approve or support us. As the world continues to change, so much the work of women who want to blaze their own trails and make way for others to follow and sitting on my family farm, I am happy to support them, knowing that because of the women before me, I have the freedom to be a farm wife and blaze my own trail.