By Shannon Sweeny
I am at the point in my life where I have made the big move: back to my parents’ house after graduating early from college. I was almost a little excited about this originally, getting to see my family, free food, no rent, no choosing whether to buy groceries or turn the heat on. At first the small town atmosphere is quaint.
The amount of small stores, local businesses and honest people really does warm my heart, but I forgot what moving from two different big cities to my small New Hampshire town would entail.
In other words, I forgot what it was like to be a feminist positive progressive thinker in rural New Hampshire.
I have become very appreciative of my small-town upbringing. Lots of space to run and play, always friends on the street to play cops and robbers with; but when I began to grow older I felt very alone in the way I viewed the world.
I believed that patriarchy and gender stereotypes were plaguing the way we lived, but I didn’t see anyone else around me expressing those concerns. For this reason I moved to Boston to attend a liberal arts university. There I found almost 100 percent of the student body had similar opinions to me and wanted to do something about them.
So now I am back “home” and the question of “why did I leave in the first place?” did not take long to answer.
On my way back from my mediocre suburban yoga class (I know I sound pretentious), I decided to go to the library from which I used to take out Judy Bloom books. I walked into the building that probably carries less than 1,000 books and went straight to the nonfiction section looking for the feminist studies section.
I looked at the weathered books and I saw Simone De’ Beauvoir’s “The Second Sex,” one of the first feminist texts I ever read, and “The Feminine Mystique” by Betty Freidan. Both of these texts are integral to the women rights movement, a social movement that is still incredibly influential today, and, of course, I assumed they would be there. Next to both of those texts were the books “Motherhood is Difficult” and “How to Raise Your Children.” My blood pressure began to raise 10 points a second. There are only two feminist texts in this entire library and they are in the MOTHERHOOD SECTION? So a woman’s only use is to be a vessel to a child?
This was the trip that broke the feminist’s back. Why is it so difficult to be a progressive thinker in a small town? Why do we feel as women, liberals, or progressives that we need to move to cities and get away from our small town roots? This is something I have been struggling with since I was a little girl who didn’t believe in Disney fairy tales.
If you feel this way, you are not alone and maybe we should start a book club. A book club that involves current feminist texts that reflect the beautiful thinking that is going on in this decade about women and society. Because someday I will be a big feminist fish in a small rural pond and I would love to share my bowl, no matter how cramped, with some great company.
Shannon is a recent graduate of Emerson College with a degree in Political Communications with minors in Gender Studies and Dance. She has passion for the arts, human rights, non-profit work and progressive thinking. She now resides in New Hampshire and hopes to soon move back to the city she loves, Boston.