As a child, I was described as ‘feisty’ — ;never a Southern Belle.’ After my father died, I read some of his collection of diaries, reading about his description of me at the age of two. Paraphrasing here, “Although only two-years-of-age, Barbara likes to be the center of attention. Tonight at a Parent Teachers meeting for her oldest sister, Dolores, Barbara truly took over the conversation…she enjoys the looks of others and loves to dramatize things…”
Humph! Haven’t a clue what I did, but my Dad truly nailed me! I have always been described as “not a Southern Belle…” I suppose I am more of a “Steel Magnolia” than a Southern Belle, especially if the definition of steel magnolia is a woman who is strong, independent, feminine, but fights for the rights to be a feminist.
Yep. That is me! To those who really know me, they understand why I am a feminist…and so proud to be a feminist. I am married to a true Male Chauvinistic Pig…Mr. Macho Man. For too many years he has demanded me to ‘sit and be quiet. Don’t make a spectacle of yourself. A wife should be seen and not heard.’ This, from a man who fought a war and who has seen me fight for the rights of children, especially abused children…fight for the rights of animals…fight to end domestic abuse, and most especially, fight for the rights of women. There have been many times in my life when I have seen a man hit a woman, or a woman slap at a man, and there I go — interrupting and telling them to stop the domestic abuse to one another.
I suppose you could say I became a feminist at five-years-old. My family and I lived in the Projects of Joel Chandler Homes, Atlanta, GA. My mother was outside, “gossiping with the women,” when my dad walked outside, angry at my mother — again. He demanded her to come inside. When she refused, he knocked her to the ground. She cut her head on the concrete curb. The gossipy women watched in horror, refusing to say anything, while I ran after my dad, grabbing his pant leg, telling him to ‘stop beating my mama…You’re mean, Daddy. You’re a mean man.”
On that afternoon, I became a feminist, and I haven’t stopped. I will always stand up and shout to end domestic abuse, even when my husband rolls his eyes, shakes his head and mumbles, “Damn. There she goes again!” While I recognize I embarrass him at times, I will stand up to be heard, just like my father told me years ago…I will not hide my head in the sand. I will not look the other way…I will not hush! When I see someone doing something they should not do, I will stand up to fight back, with diplomacy, and I will stand tall so other women get the rights they deserve. In my corporate years, I experienced how women were not paid what they should be paid, simply because ‘she’s a woman…’ On one occasion, when I questioned why a man got a raise when I was doing the same retail management job as he was, I was told if I made any noise, I would be terminated. Less than a month later, I was “Terminated…”
And so, my journey continues. I am proud to be a woman. While I enjoy the looks of men, and I enjoy being ‘totally feminine’ — I am the first to open and hold the door — for a man, and I do not expect a man to give up his seat for me. Nor do I expect a man to buy me a drink, or to pick up the tab! My husband and I share this responsibility, and I love to drive — especially on long trips! I enjoy being a Steel Magnolia and Feminist. After all, “I am woman — hear me roar!”