|My Feminist Parents|
I once told my little brother that feminism is in my blood. At the time I’d declared this because of our parents. Our father defies gender roles, in part, by doing all the cooking in the family and, interestingly enough, he learned to cook from his father, who even in 60s and 70s recognized it wasn’t fair to expect women to take care of all household duties. And then there’s our tough-as-nails mother who gave birth to me before she married my father. When others urged her to get hitched ASAP so her child would “have a name” she retorted, “She has a name – mine!”
But recently I learned a few things that make me believe the fight for equality of the sexes really is in my DNA.
A few of my close relatives recently had their DNA analyzed in an effort to learn more about our heritage (you know, since that whole slavery thing makes this pretty difficult for black people). Being the conspiracy theorist that I can be, I refused to participate convinced it was a scam to collect DNA for the production of clones and other trippy experiments. I told my cousin who spearheaded the project that I’m sure there’s a goat somewhere with her face.
Nonetheless, when the results were in I was eager to know the African region the tests claimed we were from.
According to the findings there's a great chance that we descend from the Pygmy people of central Africa. This wasn’t shocking considering how tiny we are. At a mere 5 feet 4 inches I am the tallest woman on my mom’s side of the family and I’m the same height or taller than most of the men. My cousin with the goat clone is only 4’ 10’’.
So what does this have to do with feminism? Well, in her new book How Eskimos Keep Their Babies Warm: Child-Raising Discoveries from Around the World, Mei-Ling Hopgood reveals that the Aka Pygmies of the Central African Republic have one of the most perfect examples of egalitarian parenting. As Johanna Gohmann reports in an article in the April/May 2012 issue of Bust magazine, the book explains that in the Aka world fathers spend almost as much time caring for their babies as the mothers do. Furthermore, labors such as hunting, setting up camp, and cooking are evenly divided and there’s no stigma attached to any of the duties. If the mother is off hunting, the father might spend the day cradling the baby.
See! Feminism is in my blood. Maybe.
I guess you can’t really argue that a person inherits political beliefs, but I do believe that perhaps we are all born with a heart for equality and that things like sexism, racism, are homophobia are taught. So maybe I do have feminism in my blood, and maybe you do too.