For the love of immigrant mothers

My mom probably doesn’t know what the word feminist means, so she probably doesn’t realize that she raised three of them. Three daughters, who are all very different, but that is one of their common threads. It turns out, you can be woke without knowing you are.

In all honesty, a lot of the discussion around feminism comes from a place of privilege and from countries that have the luxury to debate if the word “feminist” is even valid. Many of the fierce promoters of feminism are utterly unaware of how much they are contributing to the movement, because they have been excluded from the narrative. One such example, are immigrant mothers like my own.

You see, my mom raised me and my sisters on the notion that we are whole women on our own. She pushed us towards education, making our own money, and being outspoken. I’ve heard stories of my badass, red-headed mother, brazenly putting her feet on her boss’s desk and demanding a promotion after he made fun of her for being an immigrant. She had a family to feed and a dignity to defend.

The key difference is that for women like my mother, the notion of feminism was not born from a movement, but from everyday survival. She instilled this in me and my sisters because she wanted us to be our own person wherever we ended up in our lives. My mother didn’t expect to have to flee her country, have three kids, learn a new language, and survive a war all by age 30, but if she could survive that, she can survive anything. I fully believe that there is no way my family would be where we are without her.

There is a showiness in Western feminism that might be quite odd for women, who keep their heads down, work hard, and don’t have time to parade their love of being a woman. Women like my mom believe in duty to their families and in love and compassion. They aren’t necessarily marching in rallies or campaigning for reproductive rights, but they are incredible forces that uplift all women. They might be looked down on for not being as liberal as your average millennial feminist, but they have raised women who are fighters and who know their worth.

We need to show more love to the women who are from different socio-economic backgrounds, races, cultures, and more. They have been champions for the movement without being included. My immigrant mother raised three college educated, independent, compassionate warrioresses while working night shifts, learning a new language, and feeding a family of five on below minimum wage. If that’s not feminism, I don’t know what is.

Arijana Ramic is a Seattle based standup comedian. You can find her musings on twitter (@arijanaramic) and short videos on the Aisha and Arijana FB page.

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