Happy Mother's Day
This past week, we asked our Facebook Fans to reflect on how their mom, grandmother, sister, wife or other special woman in their life influenced their decision to be politically active and stand up for women's rights - like health care, equal pay, and access to birth control.
Since we asked many of you to share your experience, I thought it was only fair for me to talk about mine. My mom was never overly political. I do remember going to vote with her, but nothing beyond that. For me though, it wasn't going to rallies and discussing politics at the dinner table. It was more instilling the values of truth, justice, and knowledge that have driven me into politics, first in High School and college, and now in my professional life. And now, since I work at EMILY's List, she gets to brag about how well she raised me. Thanks mom.
We received many great responses and below are a few of the answers we got.
Cate: I remember my mom always saying that the positions a politician holds on women's issues say more about who s/he is as person than anything else. It speaks volumes about priorities and values. But specifically I remember my mom taking my older brother to a pro-choice rally in Washington D.C. and being insanely jealous that he got to go and I didn't! That brought home the fact that "women's issues" are human issues! We, male and female, all need to stand up and demand respect as individuals. It didn't hurt that she has always said one of the main reasons she married my father (a nurse midwife) was because she knew he'd be a great father to a girl and she was right!
Vicky: My mother was a women's lib-er LONG before it was ever even mentioned. She was an artist, an architect, an instructor. She could (and did) dig in and build a block wall (literally) just as easily as she could cook a meal. She was a Republican, but her commitment to education was life-long, serving 2 terms on the local school district board of education when I was young, then many more terms on the board of the community college where she was an instructor for over 30 yrs. She NEVER told me that I COULDN'T do something, and encouraged me to be me, even if 'being me' meant not being a republican. Because of my mom, I am a strong woman with many skills and interests that aren't common among my female friends... and I credit HER with giving me a strong example to follow.
Samantha: My mom grew up during the Dr. King era. As we got older she told us the importance of voting. When we became 18 years old we had to register to vote. My mom is the shortest of all of us, but the fear that she put in us to vote and to protect our rights, it went a long way. All 5 of my sisters vote in almost every election. We have been active voters and our children are that way as well. She says it is your strong voice, so use it. My mom is now 69 and I remember an election with the city was being held and I jumped out of bed real early and went and stood in the line to vote. I could hear her voice, "Samantha did you vote today?" Yes I did, yes I did.
Nancy: Speak your mind, speak the truth and quite frankly, "give a damn!" Thanks mom!
Tiffany: My mother was a leader in the Republican Party, yes THAT party. She taught me to be politically aware, and a strong woman. A woman with a voice. I am a Democrat and we used to laugh about how her daughter could be a Democrat, but she always supported my active stance and would debate with me about issues that typically divide the parties. We would get VERY passionate during these debates, but would always end with an "I love you" and plans to do something together. My mother died July 2010 and I miss her every day. I cherish what she has taught me and I know she is proud of me.
Blithe: When I was in 4th grade we were sent home to ask the older members of the family what the greatest invention from their lifetime was. My great-great aunt said the washing machine, my grandfather said the TV. My grandmother said "The Pill" - the look on my teacher's face was priceless :)
Toni: My mother came to the US as a teenager, turning 14 on the boat that took her from her old home in Sicily to a port in NY where she then traveled to her new home in the Midwestern US. The quiet strength that grew within her as an immigrant child in a foreign land was an integral part of the woman who has influenced me more than any other. Her influence has always been subtle but ever present. There was no command to vote, stand up, speak out, etc., but rather an all encompassing love and support that gave me the foundation to be active and present in my life. When I, as a child, refused to bend to the norms of gender and culture, she never pressured me to conform and always encouraged me to do what I believe, and believe what I do. She came with me to vote for the very first time, listening to the passionate tirade of a newly politically empowered 18 year old the entire way to the polls. 20 years later, she's still listening just as intently as she did that day.
Lee: My mother had activism in her bone marrow. In high school in the 1940s, she was called "political woman." She used to put my little brother in the stroller to make her rounds as a Republican Party block worker in the late 1950s. She circulated petitions, registered people to vote, and wrote letters to the editor. When picketers used intimidation to block access to the only clinic in the state where abortions were performed, she escorted women and their partners through safely. She was active in PTA, in establishing a drug abuse prevention program in the schools, in starting a shelter for women and children who were fleeing abuse, and in campaigning for the Equal Rights Amendment. She urged (in person) office-holders to appoint more women to commissions and positions of public responsibility. Through it all, she taught me the importance of participating in the democratic process, and in discussing differences fairly and reasonably and working toward solutions that were best for everyone.
Melissa: My three granddaughters are my most motivating influences! Earlier in my life I was frankly, too busy to do much more than vote and discuss women's issues. As this next generation of young girls has blessedly come into my life, I am tuned into their future dreams, needs, and aspirations as never before! I want a wonderful, fair, healthy environment for their sweet lives - it is all I can think of some days. Thus, I am involved on many levels to ensure this happening!
Sue Ellen: My mother was a lifelong Democrat and held public office. She was county treasure for many years and was the first woman to work for the State of Kansas, Department of Revenue under the leadership of the late, great Governor George Docking. This was in the late 50's. Not only was she the first woman she was the only woman for many years. Mother taught us we could do anything we wanted too. She never believed her gender could hold her back.