Every week, I send out a digest of our top stories from msmagazine.com—prefaced by a personal note from moi. This letter ran on Sunday, for Mother’s Day. Sign up to get letters like it—and lots of good links!—directly to your inbox each week.
Mother’s Day has always felt like a homecoming. My feminist journey begins with my mother, with all that she went through to open doors for me and all that she showed me about power and persistence—and the themes of political and economic equality which ring throughout our Mother’s Day pieces this year have particular resonance for me as a daughter, granddaughter, niece raised by strong, working-class women.
I want to tell you about my mom—a strong and self-determined woman who raised two weirdo kids on her own, who told us every day with her words and her actions that we mattered and were special and could do whatever we wanted with our lives, who advocated for me endlessly, who instructed me to be kind and be good, who made so much magic for us in spite of a world that attempted to constrain and crush families like ours and people like us and the kinds of dreams we dared to have in spite of it.
(Also, mom, I know you’re reading this. Hi! I love you so much.)
I also want to tell you about my aunt—a woman who wears shining black heeled loafers every day just in case she has to kick ass; who studied law and went into finance and never let the world tell her what kind of woman she had to be; who whispered in my ear when I was 13 that I could, would, should be the first woman president.
And I mean, I obviously have to tell you about my grandmother, too—a woman who ran the kitchen at our local high school and practiced a firm but feminist form of leadership, who picked us up from summer camp and fed us fruit snacks as we rolled down the car windows, who took care of us when my mom worked nights and rinsed the plastic tables from pizza boxes for my dolls to put in their bedrooms, who grew up in the Great Depression but still taught herself to drive and fought for her own freedom.
When I am asked why I do this work I always think about the village of women who empowered me into existence. I began fighting for gender equality because of them. I began fighting for women because I was fighting for us—for women who confront discrimination and harassment while they work to feed their families, for women who are constrained by a lopsided system that was never meant to support them, for women who want more and who raise their daughters to live out their wildest dreams.
I am here because I wanted families like mine—and women like me, women like my mother, women like my aunt and my grandmother and the generations of women before them—to have a fair shot at freedom. I am here because together, they endeavored endlessly to give me the incredible opportunity to chase my own.
I’m here because my mother and your mother and their mothers deserve to be supported, valued and heard all year long. In the pieces below, Ms. contributors and feminist movement leaders alike sound off on how we can make that happen.
Happy Mother’s Day.