“It would appear to most people that I am the complete opposite of you…” the letter began.
“…I am a non-religious, lesbian, university professor living in the Pacific Northwest, and I’m not at all athletic…”
“I feel compelled to sit down and write to you today…”
Here we go.
“…and thank you and your husband…”
“For raising your children to be the best kind of feminists – the kind who actually respect women.”
“Are you trying to catch flies?” A teasing uncle would say when I was rendered speechless as a child, mouth agape.
I don’t know how long I sat there catching flies that morning, but when I finished Seattle’s letter, I realized something important: the best feminists are intellectually honest, respectful to both genders, and uncommonly kind.
And so – yes! May God help me raise the very best feminists this world has ever seen.
I can tell you that I’ve been dis-respected plenty in this life, by men and women alike, and it always stings more than I’d care to admit. But, I’ve also been shamefully disrespectful to both genders on far too many occasions.
I’ve often failed to be the best kind of feminist – the kind who considers all people as carefully as she would like to be considered.
“Well, that’s just common.” I can hear Papaw say.
Papaw was a West Virginia coal miner, and knew people about as well as he knew coal. Being ‘common’ wasn’t a compliment down in the mines – it meant you were showing your ass.
To disparage those who frustrate, bore, anger, or disrespect us must surely be one of the easiest, most natural things in the world to do.
To consistently give the proper weight to those who anger, question, hate, or disrespect us – that must certainly be one of the most difficult things in this life. How rare and surprising is the person who remains careful with people, even when feeling affronted by their actions, disdain, or ideology?
How refreshingly uncommon.
And so may we all endeavor to be the very best kind of feminist – the kind who speaks courageously, intentionally, kindly, and with words that seek to build up the whole person.
May you be a startling surprise to the common world this season.
Thank you, Seattle, for speaking words of grace and peace.
You didn’t have to.
You are an uncommon woman, a gift, and the very best kind of feminist.