The term “feminism” wasn’t coined until the second wave, and it caught on like wildfire. Gloria Steinem’s Ms. Magazine aimed to educate women on equality and open their eyes to injustices; the magazine explained that women (and men) just needed to feel the ideas “click” into place. And the best way to help someone have a “click” moment was through a relatable anecdote.
As Brain Pickings’s Maria Popova writes, “children have a singular way of seeing even the most complex of cultural phenomena with disarming clarity,” and it’s delightfully moving to read stories wherein children “click” into feminist ideas. Letters to Ms., 1972-1987 provides modern readers insights into these early feminist realizations.
In one letter, a parent proudly explains that she overheard her son telling another little boy not to say “hee-hee” when he laughs because “In [his] house [they] say ‘her-her-her-her!” Another relative writes in about this hilarious and endearing response to a history assignment, written by a seven-year-old: “George Washington’s brother had died. In those days women did not get to own there own home. So George Washington’s sister did not get the house. George got the house. . . . He became the first president. And then he was put on a nickel.”
One woman writes in about her daughter’s response to her grandfather’s statement, “Boy, Erin you’re really a ‘cheeseman:’” “No, Papa! I’m a cheese ‘person.’” The mother writes to Ms. that she fears her daughter’s future acceptance “of someone’s casual denial of her womanhood,” and she ends with a resounding, “not if I can prevent it.” A few children discover the differences between penises and vaginas, and they remain free of any dumb societal prejudices, accepting all genders wholeheartedly. Cute and moving tales abound. Check out more letters to Ms. here.
Thanks to Brain Pickings
Images via Brain Pickings