To be clear, I'm not saying sexist attitudes didn't deeply hinder my home life, only that my father was an Old World raised fashion-saavy feminist.
For a few years now, people keep asking if I've read Elena Ferrante's Neapolitan novels, and I've felt like a terrible human, woman AND writer when I answer that I haven't yet but I mean to blah-blah-why-am-I-still-talking-blah.
I'm getting comfortable with saying no. For the first twenty years of my life, I bathed, bunked and breathed misogyny. Steeped comfortably in a setting where I was considered a second class citizen from birth. One of my earliest memories is asking my father if he was sad he didn't have a boy. That he got me, a pig-tailed chatterbox who befriended the lost, approached the lonely with a shy smile and cheered for the longshot every time, seemed like a horrible fate for such a nice man like my dad. The only daughter of the only son, the family name died with me - a fact my paternal grandfather raised more than once.
My father replied, "I got exactly what I wanted, a healthy child."
Still, I knew I had to carry the banner for the family pride and reputation, understood that it was expected of me, and suspected I would fail. And I did, spectacularly. I lost that Miss Perfect sash faster than you could say "What's a nice feminist like you doing with your fist pummeling my face?"
So I don't understand women in positions of power who don't know the definition of the word feminist. Look up the word Amazon in the thesaurus section of an online dictionary and you will find a host of women-hating terms. That alone makes me feel like my soul is wearing cement shoes. Some things I read and some things I don't because I use words like Band-Aids; I need them to cover what is broken in me, to protect the wound until it can heal.
I've asked my dad what led to his enlightened views. He was ahead of his time, certainly ahead of my mother. He said when he was a boy, he observed men causing problems, "Every which way I was looking."
I never tire of quoting Pappy: "We are here to helps each other."
He also says "No pay tension to the stupid people. World is full of injustice and bad people. You no pay tension. Do what you can to make other people happy. Make the joke, say something nice, everyone need encourage, no discourage. Like the English say, 'the turkey no can fly' so stay away from the turkey."
Spoken like a true feminist.