Unlabeled: An Essay on Radical Feminism

Thesis: I am not gender non-conforming but a radical feminist. There is a difference. The first is a negative label given to us by the trans movement. The second expresses a feminine ethos of expanding the envelope of what it means to be a woman. However, both of these are labels. Be who you are without society’s label.

In 1972, Helen Reddy was belting out “I am woman, hear me roar…” I was thirteen. I still remember that song. I went on to study engineering and have a career as an engineer. I was smarter than the boys. I didn’t marry or have kids. I more or less continued on with life as a well-funded single woman. I didn’t take up the stereo-typed life of a mainstream woman: married, kids, job, house in the suburbs, debt, etc. I never conformed to the stereotypical female lifestyle.

Along comes 2016 (I was 57) and Caitlyn Jenner comes out as trans. I hadn’t thought about trans-gender until that point. Suddenly, I wondered if that was what was wrong with me. After much soul searching I knew for a fact that I didn’t want to be a man. But I’m still wearing boy’s Levis and no makeup and getting called “sir” pretty often.

As a result of the LGBTQ+ movement, this new terminology and labeling have emerged. I suppose I could call myself gender-nonconforming, or AKA genderqueer. What a derogatory label to put on oneself. I’ve ever since been hateful towards trans-women because they are not women and in fact downgrading the power of the true feminine. A woman’s biology is what it is and no man can claim it just by taking hormones or having surgery.

Oh well. If you are Q then, eff it. Go on with life.

However, I am also a meditator and a person in connection with my higher self. And a person who more and more loves the inner child or true self who came to be on the planet. My higher self loves me and doesn’t think of me as queer at all. This morning, I was writing in my journal and then I meditated and then I wrote in my journal some more. Suddenly the words “Radical feminist” came into my mind, out of nowhere. And suddenly I felt my life re-framed and transformed. I’m NOT some queer gender non-conforming person. I’m a radical feminist. I’m a powerful example of expanding the type of life available to a woman.

I fully accept my female biology and my life outside the gender box. Sing along with me.

Helen Reddy, I Am Woman Lyrics:

I am woman, hear me roar
In numbers too big to ignore
And I know too much to go back an’ pretend
‘Cause I’ve heard it all before
And I’ve been down there on the floor
No one’s ever gonna keep me down again

Oh yes I am wise
But it’s wisdom born of pain
Yes, I’ve paid the price
But look how much I gained
If I have to, I can do anything
I am strong (strong)
I am invincible (invincible)
I am woman

You can bend but never break me
‘Cause it only serves to make me
More determined to achieve my final goal
And I come back even stronger
Not a novice any longer
‘Cause you’ve deepened the conviction in my soul

Race Report

First of all, I did a really great job of running a marathon. Second of all, the cabin sucked. Driving went fine.

I drove from Kansas City to Fulton Illinois, directly to the race course on the day before the race. I wanted to make sure I knew where the course was. I met Clint and Tedford there, so I knew I had the right place. Then I proceeded to the campground.

I think I realized from the instant I first walked into the cabin that I didn’t like it. Mostly because it was dark inside (no windows) with poor lighting. The air conditioner was very noisy. The porch might have been nice to sit on but it was in the sun, so too hot to sit there. I put my chair in the shade in the grass and found it very buggy. The shower house was dark also, though it did have real toilets. The camping area only had a pit toilet with no light or door. During the night, I found my sleeping situation not comfortable, being too hot or too cold depending on if the AC was on. The AC kept waking me up. I found myself peeing in a plastic tub I brought for that purpose, but still, it was awkward and made me wonder what the hell I was doing there.

I got up around 3:30 to prepare to drive to the race which started at 5. I found myself with the phone, looking at hotel rooms in nearby Clinton Iowa. I was realizing that it was an impossible task to recover from a full marathon in that cabin and be ready to go to a 5 am race the next morning. There was no way I could relax and re-hydrate in that cabin. As well, it would take extra time to pack up my mountain of stuff in the morning.

I drove to the race. After parking, I immediately took out my phone and booked a room at the Hampton Inn for that night. This was very fortuitous. It meant that I could relax and run my marathon knowing I would have a shower and a bed waiting for me afterward. It also meant that I would finish my race because I had already paid for the hotel room. I had nowhere to go so I might as well run 26 miles. My mind bought into this perspective and I had a great race. There was a cool breeze coming in from the north, keeping the weather mostly cool. I loved it. It was the first time in awhile that I ran in joy and not in wanting to quit. The 26 miles went by easily and fast.

Video on Day 1: https://youtu.be/ICSs3vhzAIo

Windmill along the course, Day 1
Riverboat on the Mississippi, Day 1

I finished the race in 5:57 by my Garmin, which didn’t include pit stops. I jogged most of the first 20 miles. Very happy with that.

After the race, I drove to the campground, packed up my stuff and checked into the Hampton Inn. The AC in the room was quiet! The room was clean. I showered. I began to re-hydrate with a real bathroom nearby, not having to pee in a cup (like at the cabin). I felt like a queen in my hotel room.

Day 2: The racing company gives you the same medal no matter what distance you do and you can switch distances after the race starts. I knew I didn’t plan to go more than 13 miles for a half marathon. I started jogging. After 5.5 miles I realized that my legs were tired and I didn’t want to push them. So I finished off a 10k and collected my medal. The sunrise was worth getting out of bed for.

Sunrise, Mississippi River, Day 2

I am extremely pleased that I had enough positive mental attitude to enjoy a full marathon. I am entered in a 50k in 6 weeks and I feel optimistic about that. My training plan is to keep lifting weights and keep putting in hot miles, even if walking. I have no injuries from my marathon.

As I started heading home, west bound on I80, I noticed that there are more semi-trucks on I80 than cars. It made for a slog from Davenport to Des Moines. But as I turned south on I35, it was smooth sailing. I guess no one wants to go to Missouri!

Something New

I will be participating in a two-day endurance event next week. I decided that instead of staying in a hotel, I’d try staying in this cabin in a park. Should be different. I don’t have a habitual pattern of behavior for a cabin, so my brain will have to work harder to figure things out. The campground does have wifi, but I won’t be bringing my computer. I’ll have a paper notebook and pen. I wonder what I will spend my post race afternoons and evenings doing? Alone with my thoughts, in a cabin, by a river, with no YouTube.

The endurance events are in Iowa, 5 hours north of here. The weather looks great: not that hot. Now I only need the patience to complete the events.

I am focused on endurance events. You would think that a sixty-something woman would forget about ultramarathons, but I haven’t. I am afforded this luxury because I go slow and the events have long cutoff times. I am afforded this luxury because I cover 70 to 80 miles every week. Oh, and I do a small amount of weight lifting. In fact, I retired from my career in order to run. So I am doing it.

In real life, the people I know think that old people have to be sick or on medication; and they are sure I’ll get mine. I’m just saying that you have a choice about well-being. Choose it. As I was out running this morning, it occurred to me that I don’t play by other people’s rules. I have ripped off the virtual reality headset of American mass consciousness.

Wait, I signed up for a 50-mile race? Is that not crazy? Of course, maybe. I love shuffling into the finish line after 13 hours of jogging.

Walking is one of the 4 Ws that I live by: worth, wonder, wealth, and walking.