Thursday, March 17, 2011

How a Boy Became a Feminist

By Guest Blogger (and NWPC Intern) Austin Langon in honor of Women's History Month
I grew up in a home with three women all of whom were strong willed, ambitious, and very compassionate. This combination of ambition and caring instilled in me the idea that equality is not only necessary but must be worked for every day. In rural Pennsylvania, in the northern tier of Appalachia, it is not always wise for a young man to pronounce himself a feminist but perhaps it’s for this reason, the influence of the women in my life, that I didn’t view my opinions as radical.
Having grown up with feminist ideology in the bucolic paradise that is northern Appalachia I was able to not only firmly ground my beliefs in the injustices I saw in this country towards women, but I was also able to release whatever testosterone fueled adventurous plans in the wilderness that surrounded me. Being an avid outdoors man and sportsman, whether it be kayaking down the Leigh River, hiking the Appalachian Trail, or harvesting the fauna from the mountains, I fell in love with the outdoors. I have been involved in scouting since I was five years old and I first went to Hawk Mountain as a Tiger Cub.  There at the North Lookout, eating Little Debbie oatmeal cakes, I found what has become my favorite place. Hawk Mountain is a playground for those who view wildlife and conservation as a passion in their life. Allowing for ornithology, deer hunting, hiking, and located along the Little Schuylkill River, kayakers are always passing by. Hawk Mountain was founded not by a burly woodsman, but by a socialite suffragist by the name of Rosalie Edge
Entering deep into the forest primeval and taming the wild has been viewed as solely a man’s quest since the prehistoric clans first began to hunt and gather. What is often overlooked is the role of women in the wilderness. In the domain of Mother Nature, gender makes no difference in the pursuit of survival, ecology, and enjoying the bounties of the Earth. Rosalie Edge was a female conservationist who rose to national prominence and created the world’s first raptor preserve that still exists today as a natural playground and safe haven to not only the flora and fauna of Appalachia but also anyone who wishes to enjoy the gifts of nature. 
Coming from a wealthy background, Rosalie Edge lived a life of jet setting around the world and socializing in New York City. Always socially conscious, Rosalie had a natural love for animals and when presented with the opportunity to create the world’s first raptor preserve she devoted herself to the cause. While spending time in Paris with her children, Rosalie was sent a pamphlet by conservationists in Pennsylvania who were looking for donations to help them put an end to the slaughter of hawks along the Kittatinny Ridge. Rosalie gave more than a donation; she devoted her life to creating a sanctuary for these birds of prey. Rosalie Edge had a huge impact on Kittatinny Ridge; and an even bigger impact on my feelings about women’s equality. 
For me, equality for all is not a radical idea, and a person’s right to make their mark on the world or have control of their own body is not a topic to be debated - these are just common sense issues of right and wrong. I found myself as an intern at the NWPC this year because I saw an opportunity to work towards actual equality. Women make up half of this nation, shouldn’t they have equal representation? This is not radical; it’s logical. It is because of this that I feel so strongly that more women need to be elected to public office. 
It is of course possible to be a man and be a feminist, it is possible to release your inner caveman and still stand for women’s rights. Women’s rights should not be a novelty or a special interest issue, they are human rights, and who can deny the necessity of this?  For men, women are our sisters, our mothers, our daughters, and our companions and should be entitled to everything a man has - not because we owe them this, but because they are born entitled to these rights just as every human is.  Besides, how could a woman resist a brawny man with a big heart who is so passionate about social justice? 

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