A Series of Moments: Part 1

There are two moments of my childhood that I credit as “THE MOMENT” I knew I was a feminist.  Perhaps I didn’t realize it back then but it seems so obvious to me now when I find myself sitting in a dorm room, scouring feminist blogs and thinking “YES. YES THAT IS HOW I FEEL.” It’s obvious in the way that I can’t just forget and ignore instances of blatant sexism or homophobia that I encounter in my daily life and the fact that those horrific moments make my insides twist and shout. I’m going to share Part 1 of my story today.

I’ll begin with the story that revolves around food. Yes, I was that child.  The perpetually hungry one.  (Ok, so I’m still that person today. JUDGE ME.)  I would offer up the specifics of my location, but I don’t seem to have them.  My family and I were on our way to visit my mom’s parents in Minnesota. I think. Probably. I’m almost certain we were sitting at some greasy breakfast diner, a Perkins or maybe a Country Kitchen.  (Road trips always called for pancake stops.)  There I sat: short, chubby legs swinging off the edge of booth, greedy little eyes taking in the glossy pictures of oversized portions displayed on the brightly colored, laminated menu I grasped between soft and pudgy hands.  Who knows exactly what my order was, but I guarantee you it came with a side of pancakes.  Fast forward to the moment of truth: choosing a flavor of syrup to drown my stack of fluffy, golden brown flapjacks.  I distinctly remember reading each label carefully-my parents had given me the chance to make this decision on my own and I was not messing up something as important as the meal I was about to devour.  Maple.  Boysenberry.  Apricot.  And then I realized…boysenberry?  What the fuck is a BOYsenberry?  And if there is a berry named after boys, then where the hell is syrup made from fruit bearing a female namesake?

Illustration by Alanna Stapleton, 2013

Illustration by Alanna Stapleton, 2013

I posed the question to my family and they laughed at my youthful naiveté, told me I should just use maple and get over it. My insides boiled at this response: get OVER it?  GET OVER IT?!  The female sex, in its entirety, was being left out of what was supposedly a diverse array of syrup choices at the most stereotypical Midwestern diner you could think of.  This was not something I could just GET OVER.  I can guarantee that I haven’t let the ridiculousness that is BOYsenberry syrup touch my lips (or my precious pancakes) since that traumatic day.

It might seem silly, this simple story of a child getting worked up over semantics. But now, as I muddle through the uber cliche time in my life where I figure out who I am, it feels like an incredibly pivotal moment. It’s like the way that my sister always told me “YOU SHOULD GO TO ART SCHOOL,” but I spent most of my time thinking it was just a hobby until finally I realized that drawing all day was exactly what I wanted out of life…and then ended up going to art school. Little Alanna was throwing feminist tantrums but adolescent Alanna tried so hard to be hardcore hipster Catholic. (Yes, that is a thing.) It was awkward and weird and just never felt right and then BOOM! I decided to think for myself.

A Series of Moments: Part 2 coming soon. (Soon is relative.)


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