I was responding to a friend of a friend on Facebook this morning to a question about Hillary Clinton and feminism. If you’re new to my blog, I’m passionate about faith and feminism, politics and the arts. And according to my daughter, I’m a creative cook. You’re thinking I digress.

Each one of the women this man referenced did not view Hillary as a feminist. But what was significant to me is that feminism is not what’s most exciting to them in their life’s work. They’re shaped and informed by feminism, but it’s not what they’re most captivated and enthralled with.

A little back story… I was debating feminist issues in 5th grade. I walked my neighborhood enlisting people to sign a petition to pass the ERA when I was 12. Later, I proudly worked for Ms. Magazine. I’m a product of second wave feminism, which miraculously came into being about 50 years ago.

But somewhere along the way, I stopped making feminism a priority, for a variety of reasons. Career success, relationships, spiritual choices…I cared, gave, volunteered, raised money, spoke out and wrote articles…but it wasn’t my job, my raison d’etre.

However, feminism hasn’t left me alone. It’s whispered in my ear, been my muse, snuck into my poems. Held down by the undertow of life, it swam its way to the surface.

I used to love swimming in the moonlight. I’d swim out so that it was quiet, just the waves, constant and rhythmical, me and the sea and the stars and God. In those moments, floating, I needed nothing. The relentless human yearning was still.

I’ve been soul searching lately, trying to know what is most important to me, what I want as my legacy, how I want to spend the time I’ve been given in this life. Having crested 50, this is what I feel most urgently.

For my wedding, we used a lighthouse as an artistic and spiritual theme for our gift books for our guests. Our wedding was just a few feet from the ocean, but, really, I had an affinity for lighthouses.

Now I see that for me, feminism is the lighthouse. No matter how tumultuous life gets, it’s the beacon of light, a true north, helping us to find our way. It’s a spiritual calling. It is a state of gratitude and grace.

The elections have drawn this sharply into focus for me. Michelle Obama moved me to tears last night. She zeroed in on the excitement and emotional pull Hillary’s candidacy has for so many feminists.

I’ve wanted to like Bernie throughout this campaign season, but he didn’t speak to me. Feminism was an afterthought in his Progressive vision. Even last night, I was grateful he was unequivocal about Hillary, but I felt like…blink, and I missed us, we were barely there.

I’ve wanted more from Hillary, and she has finally became more open, more insistent about articulating feminist issues. She can tell you all the reasons why holding back equality for women is bad for the domestic and global economy, and conversely, why empowering women is so beneficial for everyone. She explains it all in common sense terms.

I see feminism as spiritually significant. After twenty years of studying Jewish mysticism, I’m even more convinced that feminism is what is needed to really change the world for the better. The subjugation, oppression, exclusion and dismissal of women has been the one constant since the beginning of time.

Our voice has been missing in religious texts, history books, canons of art and literature. Even now, the feminine, more personal narrative is discounted as not as IMPORTANT.

Hillary’s candidacy is important. It’s vital. Not only because she’s a woman but because she is intent on lifting women up, on creating real change. This is the revolution she has been tirelessly and perhaps too quietly working to bring about for her entire career.

Is she a perfect feminist? Who is? Most of us have been sidetracked, made choices we regret. We do not yet live in a world where women are fully enlightened or free…or compensated or treated equally.

When there is a real shift in valuing the feminine voice…in the corporate boardroom, on the radio, in our houses of worship, in our leadership, in every aspect of life…then we will have transformed our world.

In the meantime, I’m working on transforming my life. Six months ago I embarked on a diet I created. I’m determined to shed years of baggage and live life in a healthier body.

I’m doing this for myself and for my daughter. I keep a daily digital food journal, track my calories and weight. I shop differently, create healthy, delicious recipes, enjoy a variety of colors and tastes. I researched, made a plan. I don’t eat any wheat or sugar.

This morning it occurred to me that feminism is also like dieting. You have to really focus, alter, track, measure to effect a change. Long term change requires vigilance, developing new habits, prioritizing, commitment.

This concentration is essential, the only way to swing the pendulum rather than merely maintain, or worsen the situation. This is how to create a new body politic. #Feminismfirst.

It means not being afraid to chase your personal and collective dream, never giving up, not burning out. Hillary is on the brink of 70 and she’s running to be the leader of the free world.

This morning, I woke up refreshed and restored from the powerful sentiments expressed in the convention speeches last night. I got on the scale, and it tipped in my favor.

I promised my friends when I reached another milestone, I’d let them know. Today I’m 50 down and I’m not done yet.

About the Author
Dana is a Jewish feminist, writer and poet. She is passionate about her daughter, love, kindness, spirituality, the artist's voice, and speaking out for the vulnerable. She lives in Music City, Nashville, TN.
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