Name: Becky Sumber
Location: Westchester area, NY
Occupation: Manager in the Service Coordination Department of an agency that serves people with developmental disabilities/mom
Random/Important facts: mother of a young daughter and son.
How do you define feminism?
Feminism to me is knowing that women don’t need to fit into any particular gender role, and that that only limits on women are their own aspirations. I experience feminism now mostly through parenting my kids; raising each of them to just be who they are and to do what they love. Feminism isn’t just about women having the freedom to explore and enjoy traditional male gender roles (being the breadwinner, working in male dominated fields, etc), but also about embracing things that may be considered traditional female gender roles (being nurturing, soft and feminine) if that’s what they enjoy and if that’s what feels right.
When did you first consider yourself a feminist?
In college I took a women’s studies course and identified with a lot of the themes. I grew up in a household where, when she could, my mother stayed home to take care of me and my siblings, but when she needed to, she also worked, obtained an advanced college degree, and moved her four children into a better living environment as a single mother. Without realizing it, I was raised with the assumptions that a woman can do and be anything that she wants to, or anything that she needs to.
Has your definition of feminism changed over time?
I think having a daughter reinforced my ideas, and forced me to think about them more concretely, as I’ve tried to raise my daughter to know that she can be whoever she wants to be and that her voice is important. I’ve extended those thoughts to my baby boy, who I will raise to be comfortable with who he is, & to know that women can be equal partners with their mates. I think that, as I’ve watched my daughter grow, I’ve become more aware of making sure my kids know they don’t have to fit into any sort of gender stereotype; that they are perfect just the way they are, however they wish to express themselves, and that they can do and be anything that makes them happy.
Have you ever experienced resistance to identifying as a feminist? If so, why do you think there is and how do you handle it?
I actually can’t say I have experienced resistance. I haven’t ever felt like I couldn’t do or be something just because I’m a woman; or that I have to do or be something because I’m a woman. I’ve also been lucky to work in a very female-dominated field where women are commonly leaders and in upper level positions.
What do you see as the future of feminism?
I think the future is feminism. I see a world for my kids to grow up in where women are equally accepted and respected for any choice they make in their lives, whether my daughter wants to stay home and raise children, obtain an advanced degree and work her way up the ladder in a male dominated field, build a remote control car or dress up in unicorn costumes and have tea parties. All are valid and valuable choices.
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