For me, I think it was actually the good examples that drove me to feminism.
So, today, for International Women's Day, I'd like to create a small list of my influences. Certainly not exhaustive, and maybe I'll continue to add to it in the future... but today, a little tribute.
1. My mother. The strongest woman I know, and a feminist herself. Maybe it's in my blood, maybe it's in my DNA, maybe it came from sharing a body with her for ~8 months (I was early). Maybe it was the little decisions she and my dad made-- giving me all kinds of toys to play with, always telling me I could be and do whatever I set my mind to. But without much conscious awareness of it, I inherited her feminism.
2. Little Girls. A book I believe my grandmother got me, that was one of my two go-to bedtime books every. single. night. It starts off with, "Little girls are wonderful. God made them all, but they're as different as can be..." Despite the baby-pink cover, the sweet, traditional drawings, and sing-song of the words, I learned to love the diversity that is womanhood from that book. Every night before I closed my eyes.
3. My pediatrician. My parents took me to a group of pediatricians, of which, there was one lone woman. As I got older, I realized she wasn't very nice, and I didn't like her very much. But as a very young girl, I loved her, and she was an important figure for me of a woman in the medical field (and science), in an otherwise all-male practice.
4. Disney Princesses. Yes. I said it.
I wanted to be all of them (Almost. Was never too keen on Snow White.) But, royalty. And, most of them looked fairly independent to me (especially as a very young girl), having adventures and such. (Ok, in light of Tangled and Frozen, things look a little different now and the earlier princesses seem less independent, but they still had their share of adventures, dreams, and feminism.) Belle. Jasmine. Ariel. "Bright young women, sick of swimmin', ready to stand..."
5. Deanna Troi, Bevely Crusher, and Captain Janeway. My parents were big Star Trek fans, and while I don't remember many individual story lines, I grew up on Next Generation, Deep Space Nine, and Voyager. It always seemed to be on in the background at least, when I was playing on the floor in front of the TV, or doing homework. I was around 1 I guess when Next Generation began, so I never remember a time without Star Trek on TV when I was little. I looked up to Deanna Troi and Beverly Crusher. They were so different from one another, but I identified with them as women and looked up to their skills and positions on the ship. I was about 9 when Voyager started, with the first female starship captain I'd seen. She was strong and I immediately took to her.
6. Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton. I'm not sure when exactly I learned about them, but I took out every book my little Christian school elementary library had on them and the Suffragette movement (which, was surprisingly more than a couple-- Yay books in schools!) I learned how to protest and stand up for equality from these women. I was a suffragette, decades too late.
So thankful for the women-- historical, fictional, and in my own life-- who have gone before me and influenced me. Let's continue to empower today's-- and tomorrow's-- women. I'm a feminist because I believe in Safety, Education, and Equality of opportunity (and rewards). For women and men.