As far back as I can remember – I realized that women all around the world were being slighted. My first passion was reading, and I consumed everything that I could get my hands on. I was very aware of the injustices of the world by the time I was in middle school. I spoke freely and frankly about my concerns and I knew that when I grew up… I was going to do my part to try to create a more just world.
I think that if I really had to narrow it down though – the first real awakening of “I am a feminist” came at my check-up after I had my oldest son.
I had gotten pregnant my first year of college and I although I was only 19; I was determined to be the best mother I could be. I read every book I could get my hands on, watched videos, and took birthing/parenting classes. Unfortunately, my job didn’t provide health insurance so I had to rely on public insurance (Medicaid) and a maternal health clinic at the local hospital throughout my pregnancy for my healthcare.
At the 6-week appointment most doctors suggest birth control. Pills. Condoms. Depo Shot. IUDs.
That’s not what was first offered to me though.
Instead, a male doctor, supposedly one of the “best” in the hospital suggested that I consider getting my tubes tied. I was floored. I only had one child – why would I be interested in tying my tubes at such an early age?
His reasoning? He said statistically because I had my first child while on government assistance, I had little chance of getting off, especially if I got pregnant again. He told me tying my tubes and not having any more kids was my best chance of being successful.
When I walked out that day I remember feeling so confused. I had older friends who wanted to get their tubes tied, yet were battling with their doctors who told them, “you may change your mind someday,” yet I was being encouraged.
Was it because I was poor? Young? Unmarried? I will never know but I do know what it did. It lit a fire.
I declined his suggestion. I researched my birth control options & I asked for an IUD instead. An IUD would give me 5 years of worry-free birth control, plenty of time to focus on that Bachelor’s degree I had dreamed of since I was a little girl, so I committed to doing everything that I could to stay in school. My son was due the first day of classes my sophomore year – so I knew I was going to have to find a way to take a semester off but retain my scholarships; find a place to live (no babies in the dorms!) and a way to pay to live.
I am proud that I figured it out. I still graduated in 4 years. I kept my scholarships. I found a way to put a roof over our heads.
I will always #SpeakMyTruth – I had to use government assistance programs to make it and listening to the way that people talked about those of us who had to use childcare subsidy or a housing subsidy hurt. I wasn’t lazy. I wasn’t stupid. I wasn’t a drain on the system.
I was just a woman who did what many other 19-year-olds were doing (having sex, that is). That wasn’t going to define me.
I was going to prove to everyone that being a young mom didn’t disqualify me from being a badass career woman as well. So, after my Bachelors – I kept going and got a few more degrees. I gave back my Section 8 voucher; bought a house and then came back to sit on the Housing Foundation board for our County’s public housing program.
I have worked several public health positions after graduating and have always had a passion for community, which has led me to run for City Councilwoman in a town that has an 8 seat council, with 7 seats currently held by men. I am also the founder of Badass Women Tribe; a network of badass women across the globe who strive to live an intentional life created out of love, kindness, & silver linings.
I believe women will change the world. We may only be half of the population; but we gave birth to 100% of it.