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VOF Week 2: (Born my Father’s Feminist)

I arrived into the world the first child of a 48-year-old US Navy captain and his 36-year-old wife. Seven years later, we welcomed my brother into our family. It wasn’t until the turbulent years of puberty that I began to perceive how my father treated men vs. women, specifically, my mother. My father was no abuser, but with subtlety and consistency he made sure everyone knew who was in charge and who wasn’t to be challenged. This was my first male/female knot to unravel: witnessing two people perform the traditional dance of control and submission and wondering all the while, why it was so. Prompted by such complexities, at the age of 13 I began to journal as a way of processing. Journaling became my standard way of expression for the next 17 years.
By the time I left for college, I had ironically subsumed many of my father’s worldviews. These provided further knots to untangle after I arrived on campus. On my own for the first time ever, it was my father’s voice in my head, he who was telling me what to do and how to live. At 18, I didn’t realize that I would be embarking on a journey that would take me abroad for 8 years in order to figure out my thoughts and ideas about the world. Letting go of my father meant I needed distance – geographically and emotionally – which only became known in the clarity of retrospect.
During that time away I nurtured my independence and spurned commitment to much of anything be it a person, place or thing. My trusty journal always in hand, I delved deeply into these rich years of study, travel, discovery and loneliness. Eventually, I uncovered my core. It had naturally been there all along but coated in the dust of someone else’s outdated notions.
Into adulthood I studied international development and gender issues and received my MA. My enjoyment for writing was with me all the while, though my subject focus shifted. Through the process of academic stimulation contrasted to my own experiences, I grew up tall into feminism. I became committed, for the first time in my life, to something that I can no longer separate my identity from: advocating women’s rights and capturing these experiences in words.
This is my passion, my purpose, and my path. Recently I discovered World Pulse and am thrilled to integrate this into my ever-expanding feminist tool kit. As someone who is drawn to write and finds solace in putting words onto the page, finding the VOF opportunity was like stumbling upon a treasure chest. I enjoy the challenge of doing something well and through VOF can integrate my love of writing with my heart’s cause to do greater good in the world. My feminist dream to realize with VOF is this: to become a literary midwife and birth the suffering and solutions of our movement into the awareness of the world.

Comments

Brige's picture

Your story - Part 2 VOF

Dear Danielle, I am from Belgium, speaking french and living in Portland. I was really impressed by your story and the emergence of your feminist awareness. I wish you good luck in your action. And hope to hear more from you. Brigitte

Danielle Prince's picture

Thank you.

Hi Brigitte,

Merci pour ton message. I appreciate your comments about my story (VOF week 2). Interestingly, the same day I received your comments, I worked for the first time with a woman from Belgium, married to an American, who's experiencing domestic violence in her relationship. It's not everyday that one meets - let alone hears from - someone from Belgium. The coincidence struck me as unusual.

Thank you again for your kind words. Danielle

“There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.” Maya Angelou

Margot's picture

Beautiful entry!

Hi Danielle!

My name is Margot Edmiston and I am one of your assigned listeners for the VOF. Your love and talent for writing came through very loudly through this entry and it was truly a pleasure for me to read. Its awesome that you were able to turn a somewhat negative home situation into something ultimately positive in your journey. I'm curious as to what you do for work these days?

Thanks for sharing and I look forward to reading further entries!

Margot

ntoweett's picture

I so relate

I starting putting down my thoughs on paper around about the same time and although we are worlds apart I do relate to the intricacies of the relationship your father and mother. It was the same for me in a way, my mother though was young in polygamous marriage, the 4th wife to a man 27 years her senior. (their meeting and relationship over the years is a whole novel in the waiting).It is intriguing to me that , my father treated us girls differently, encouraged us more to outshine our brother and i believe how our mother related to him made us girls want to be more independent. We are 12 girls in total and only about 3 of the 12 are married. the rest are single mother / divorced. Just writing this to you has made me realise how much I really need to look back at all the stuff i wrote back in the day and reflect on it....am digging up my past writing. Another intersting thing i used to do was write letter , notes and poetry to a select group of friends while boarding school. that woud also be an interesting read. I have asked a close friend to trace all the stuff i wrote to her , i would like to explore the possiblity of doing a sort of exhibition / performance "Ode to writing on paper!"
Thanks for your "Born my Father's Feminist" piece..it has inspired me to explore my past writing to understand my present choices and path

ntoweett's picture

I so relate

I starting putting down my thoughs on paper around about the same time and although we are worlds apart I do relate to the intricacies of the relationship your father and mother. It was the same for me in a way, my mother though was young in polygamous marriage, the 4th wife to a man 27 years her senior. (their meeting and relationship over the years is a whole novel in the waiting).It is intriguing to me that , my father treated us girls differently, encouraged us more to outshine our brother and i believe how our mother related to him made us girls want to be more independent. We are 12 girls in total and only about 3 of the 12 are married. the rest are single mother / divorced. Just writing this to you has made me realise how much I really need to look back at all the stuff i wrote back in the day and reflect on it....am digging up my past writing. Another intersting thing i used to do was write letter , notes and poetry to a select group of friends while boarding school. that woud also be an interesting read. I have asked a close friend to trace all the stuff i wrote to her , i would like to explore the possiblity of doing a sort of exhibition / performance "Ode to writing on paper!"
Thanks for your "Born my Father's Feminist" piece..it has inspired me to explore my past writing to understand my present choices and path

Danielle Prince's picture

Thank you so much for

Thank you so much for responding to my post about my dad's influence on my life. It means a lot that you shared the dynamics of your upbringing with me. Thank you. I would love to read a novel based on your parent's relationship, and i am sure I would not be the only one interested in that story. Though I know - having academically studied the cultural choices of taking more than 1 wife - to hear it from a woman's perspective would be profound. I think it very interesting that your father encouraged you girls to be independent. I'm curious as to his motivation (perhaps from your mother?). And though we are worlds apart, as you say, I can hear similarities in our interests and in our ways of dealing with our family situations. It would be interesting to re-read old journals! Thank you again for your connection and contact with me. I hope to hear from you again. In Gratitude, Danielle

“There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.” Maya Angelou

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