Knapsacking Up Introduction

I remember the exact moment I became a feminist.

I was a junior in college, taking Human Relations a year early because the terrible professor who usually taught the course was on a sabbatical. The professor brought in several excellent speakers who told their story, and in doing so, shared with a bunch of White college kids what it was like to be Black or female or homosexual or Native-American or Asian-American in our society.

In preparation for one speaker, we were asked to read Peggy McIntosh’s “Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack.” Although the version we read for our Human Relations course dealt specifically with race, the connection with sex and gender was not difficult to make.

From that day(ish) forward, I have been a self-described feminist. As a high school educator and coach, I deal with high school students every day, teaching American History and American Government. Most of them think that feminists burn bras and seek to set up a matriarchy in America.

Me? I like bras. They’re fun to take off and keep boobs from getting droopy later in life. (Is that science or am I just making that up?) I really just want two things. First, I want American society to perceive women as worthy of the same basic respect as men. Second, I want women to receive the same opportunities as men.

See? That’s not so much, right?

Once upon a time, a friend of mine set up a feminist website and I was set to contribute. My plan was to provide a male perspective on the inherent advantages we have in America solely because we are men. I would have “unpacked” items in that knapsack through my experiences deep in the heart of BachmannLand, the most terrifying place on earth.

Unfortunately, life happened and the website collapsed after I worked ahead and finished several posts. So, over the next eight weekdays, I’ll be burning through my planned series “Knapsacking Up.”

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