I know why Laci Green is.
As long as I can remember, I’ve been one…even before I knew what it is. I felt it.
My parents married young, immediately had a string of kids, and weren’t highly educated: my father pumped gas for a living and my mother was a homemaker. Do I need to tell you we were poor? That didn’t matter to us: we could see that our parents loved each other very much and also loved us, but to be honest, you’ve got to admit that love doesn’t pay the rent. There were stresses and strains. I know my father was torn up because he was struggling so hard to meet that traditional male role as the breadwinner, and he wasn’t doing so well…and there was also a problem of binge drinking.
And then, my mother got a job to help out. And my parents argued. I knew that wasn’t right; if Dad can work, why can’t Mom? And then one night they fought. My father actually slapped my mother. I didn’t see it, but my sisters did, and they immediately started such wailing and crying and running through the house — that was wrong. Our parents were in love, they never ever hit each other. We were in total shock.
I’ll never forget what my mother did. She left. She took my sisters and moved back to stay with her parents. Our family was torn right in half, and it was probably the most traumatizing, terrible event of my childhood…but I still knew my mother had done the right thing, and that was important. My mother has always been quiet, soft-voiced, the stereotypical sensitive one, but I also knew in that moment that she was also damn strong and righteous. Even if I was crying myself to sleep every night, I was proud that she had stood up for herself.
The good news is that my father was also strong, and strength in this case meant admitting that he was wrong and changing his behavior. I never saw him drunk after that day; I never saw him strike my mother ever again. The usual description would be that he went “crawling back to her”, but that wouldn’t be it at all — it was more that two people who loved each other also realized that respect was part of the equation.
I was eight years old. I learned that forcing people into traditional roles tore them apart, and mutual respect and equality brought them together again. I also learned that women can be strong, and that good men can make mistakes. And years later, when I learned about this feminist thing, my reaction was to think, “But of course…isn’t everyone?”