Editor of Bringing It Home: Women Talk About Feminism in Their Lives (Arsenal Pulp, 1997), a collection of feminist stories.
Bringing It Home: Women Talk About Feminism in Their Lives (Arsenal Pulp $21.95)
While Patty Osborne is in the grocery store with her nine year old son, her thirteen year old daughter sits outside in the car reading.
As mother and son walk down the personal hygiene aisle, Patty wonders out loud what kind of sanitary napkins her daughter prefers.
Her son enthusiastically offers to run outside and ask, then returns, saying "She told me the kind she likes I'll go get them." He runs back again, this time with the package which he tosses nonchalantly into the shopping cart.
"These are the ones she likes," he says. "Can we get some nectarines now?"
Patty Osborne tells this story in "The Academy of Motherhood", her contribution to Bringing It Home: Women Talk About Feminism in Their Lives (Arsenal Pulp $21.95) edited by Brenda Lea Brown. As one of the 25 contributors, Osborne describes her efforts to raise her three children in a non sexist environment.
Her children's questions about everything from why boys don't wear skirts to issues of wealth and power distribution led Osborne to examine her own assumptions.
Growing up, she had been expected to iron her brother's pajamas. Another of her chores was cleaning the boys' pee stained bathroom.
As Patty pushed the iron along the seams of her brothers' long sleeved cotton pyjamas and scrubbed urine off their wall, her feminist education began to take shape.
"Why, just because I'm a girl, does my mother make me clean up after the boys?" she wondered.
But it wasn't until her mid 40s, while raising her own children, that Osborne began constructing and employing her own personal feminist philosophy.
Editor Brenda Lea Brown set about collecting stories like Osborne's for her Bringing It Home anthology after her own three year old son started saying things like, "Me and daddy are stronger and better than you because we're boys."
Her son's attitude led Brown to thinking more about feminism and what it meant.
Brown hadn't had what she considered a typical feminist education she had never taken a women's studies course, never marched at a "take back the night" rally or volunteered at a rape crisis centre all things she considered hallmarks of feminism.
"I wanted to hear from women who are not regular spokespeople for feminism," says Brown, "and find out how they negotiated the sometimes intractable waters between their lives and their ideals.
"It was a relief to discover that I wasn't the only woman in the world who felt as though she was living in the shadow of an impenetrable monolith called feminism.
"It was empowering to learn that individual feminist women do not all think alike they have not all read the same books or made themselves aware of each others' issues."
With the foreward written by former MLA Rosemary Brown, Bringing it Home was voted one of the best books of '96 by Shari Graydon, president of Media Watch. It includes contributions from Raminder Dosanjh, Margaret Dragu, Ursula Franklin, Meg Hickling, Linda Uyehara Hoffman, Larissa Lai and Shirley Turcotte who write about life, love, work, art, sex, science, sports and community.