**The story of how I came to identify as a feminist can’t be summed up as easily as my turn to labor history. This is post one of some ;-)**
Despite my genuine love of hot water cornbread, I don’t cook it. I can’t. It’s never shaped correctly. The outside is not crispy enough. The inside never seems done (though my aunt tells me all the time “The hot water cooks the cornmeal!”) It is a mental block, I know related to a disastrous episode of cooking when I was twelve years old.
My mother put some hot water cornbread on to fry, five pieces in a little black, cast iron skillet, then started to comb my sister's hair. That has always been some task, as her hair is thick and long and required some time to pull into ponytails. Hot water cornbread cooks quickly and my mom called me to check on it and turn it over in the grease.
I was a touch peeved--I'd been caught up in some book I probably had no business reading. But I couldn't display my anger overtly--my mom would've popped the hell out of me with the brush or whatever was close by. Instead, I marched into the kitchen in a nylon slip and jabbed the fork into the cornbread. All five pieces had fried together, so they lifted from the skillet together, then fell back down into the grease. Virtually every drop of boiling oil that was in the skillet splashed out and onto my nylon-clad stomach and thigh. I screamed.
From here, the story gets twisted in my family's collective memory. My mother claims that she jumped up, threw on clothes and rushed me to the ER.
My sister and I clearly remember that she looked at me, told me to take my time, and "Stop hollerin'. You a woman. You gon' get burned plenty of times cooking." Only after I went into the bathroom and tried to pry the nylon away from my bubbling and blistering skin, did she get up to check on me and realize that this was serious.
How, you're wondering, is that related to feminism? See, in the ER that day, suffering from 2nd and 3rd degree burns, and angry about that damned bread, I decided I was not going to be a woman. Not if this is what it entailed.
Later, I thought that was the most ridiculous thing in the world. I laughed at my twelve year old self. Silly girl, how could you not be a woman?
Now, I'm back to knowing exactly what I meant.