Not Quite Janis Joplin

Years ago, when I withdrew my daughter from a private school and home schooled, I had an incredible sense of freedom. That private school had been incredibly rigid, so tightly constrained the parent handbook suggested how to run birthday parties. What on earth was I thinking then?

When I enrolled my kids in the local public school, I discovered a freedom I hadn’t expected from my dismal memories of school. Perhaps it’s simply the diversity of kids, who come from homes with parents running the gamut income-wise, but also in home life, with mothers who range from stay-at-home moms to professors with PhDs. Maybe one of the best aspects of rural Vermont schools is their encompassing, egalitarian qualities: the kids are literally all in it together, and by and large, the kids don’t mind.

Oddly, the end of my marriage was also a pivotal point of incredible freedom. If not this life I planned, then what? I seized that breaking as an unexpected opportunity to rethink how the heck I got to here. What breadcrumbs do I want to follow to get myself unlost from this forest?

Here’s pre-dawn reading before my wood stove….

Much of contemporary feminism uses the language of power. Girls need to be “empowered,” women need to fight for “self-empowerment,” “girl power,” etc. There is little conversation about what that power is to be used for, because that is supposed to be obvious: whatever the girl wants.

But growing up in a system that measures success by money, that values consumerism and competition, that devalues compassion and community, these girls and women have already been indoctrinated into what to want. Without close examination, without conversion into a different way of thinking and acting, what that girl wants is going to be money, power, and, possibly, her continued subjugation, because a feminism that does not  provide an alternative to the system will still have the system’s values.

…. Moving beyond that (patriarchal) structure means forgoing the rewards that structure doles out for participation. But it also gives you back your agency.

Jessa Crispin, Why I Am Not a Feminist: A Feminist Manifesto

Where else but Hardwick, Vermont, in the first days of spring?

By Brett Ann Stanciu

Brett Ann Stanciu lives with her two daughters in Hardwick, Vermont. Her creative nonfiction book, Unstitched: My Journey to Understand Opioid Addiction and How People and Communities Can Heal, will be published by Steerforth Press in September 2021. Her novel about rural life in Vermont, Hidden View, was published in 2015.


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