This morning I woke up and realized I have not been taking care of myself even though I'm in a very good position to do so. I am not a single parent with small children. I am not struggling to make ends meet financially. I have tenure. But one's life is always relative to one's life. Sometimes my problems are first-world problems, and sometimes they are the real problems of living that every human being has just being.
It's a familiar story - too much wine, sweets, and computer games. Not enough sleep, exercise and downtime. The excuse is the same as it ever was: new job, teaching, lonely in a new place. These things give me comfort. I need comfort. But I am also at an age where I don't snap back the way I used. A week of increased exercise and sensible eating and a weekend of sleep does not put me back to energy and full of life.
What does this have to do with feminism? Beyond the "we take care of others before we take care of ourselves" meme?
For me it goes back to Virginia Woolfe:
'a woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction' - Virginia Woolfe
I need to step away from the immediate comforts, and find that room and be quiet in it for a bit. I need to listen to myself. This morning, on my way to work, there is a park, not just a park, a state natural area, a bog. I went there and took at 10 minute hike. There were spider webs with dew, and various plants in their end of summer phase, and mist rising off the bog. It was quiet inside and out. I looked at my life, and was very glad that I have moved. I was very glad for who I am. I was very glad that I had the money and room, both physically and mentally, to look at that.
I do not think that such would be easy, even possible, without feminism.
Feminism has become a bad word. I've given up lecturing on it. Explaining what was before, what still needs to happen in the future. Dr. Freeride hasn't, and the world is a better place for her. As we all consider how lucky we (and our sisters and daughters and partners) are to live in a place where education is possible, where we are not married off at 16 or 14 or 12, we need to remember the others who aren't. That is possible because we have, in some form, a room of our own.