Thursday, March 8, 2018

Annie Edson Taylor and Zuzu's Feminism

The kindergartners at Zuzu's school are each choosing a famous American to research for a presentation. They get to dress up as that famous American for the presentation. My understanding is that the teachers checked out a bunch of different biographies for children and they selected a famous person featured in one of the books.

On the way to school the morning of the choice, I really talked up Rosa Parks. How AWESOME was she to protest on a bus? Wasn't it great that she started a huge movement for equality that we still want to be part of?

Other girls in Zuzu's class chose people like Jane Adams, Juliette Gordon Low, and Sacajawea.

Zuzu chose... Annie Edson Taylor.

The first woman to survive going over Niagara Falls in a barrel.

If you need me this weekend, I'll be crafting a barrel out of a cardboard box. Don't worry--I found a YouTube video on how to DIY this.

I sent Zuzu's teacher a link to this article the other day because it aligns so strongly with the Montessori philosophy, as well as the way I want to parent. Her teacher's response included this gem:

"Caroline is one child who is especially in tune with what she loves to do! It's wonderful to observe!"


Zuzu is definitely in tune with what she loves to do. And she really doesn't care very much at all if it meets anyone else's expectations or desires. Her teacher put such a generous spin on that personality trait, which is one of many reasons she is a wonderful teacher!

I was talking this over with a friend in the context of a conversation we'd been having about this past week's This American Life. which is kind of a spin off the #metoo movement and follows five women who worked for the same guy and their experiences, reactions, and expectations of sexual harassment in the workplace. My friend's comment about Zuzu was, "I hope she will use that trait in the future to avoid tolerating shitty behavior from others because she thinks her desires should be secondary. It's very feminist of her."

Yes! This! Exactly! I want to nurture and encourage this take-no-shit attitude. I want her to be as fierce and confident at 15 and 25 as she is at 5.

I definitely don't want her going over Niagara Falls in a barrel, though.

So maybe she can be fierce and confident and also be willing to listen to her mother? I mean, is that really too much to ask?


  1. Hi!
    My name is Aayla, I'm 11 and in 6th grade. About your most recent post on feminism, I was wondering if you had any advice on how to write a persuasive paper on why everyone should be feminist's? This subject I feel very strongly about, but is is also one that is difficult to put persuasively. It's hard to put in what I'm trying to say. I was really inspired to do this when my reading teacher was telling about her feminist history class, I said under my breath "there's a feminist history class?" because i'd take that in college. Then a boy next to me said "feminists are a group of woman who have taken it too far". I need just the "write" words to correct him! I've done my rough draft, but nothing seems "there", you know? My Mom and I have been reading your blog for years now, We found you after a friend of hers started a blog when her twin girls died after birth.She posted my suggestion of "The Giver" a few days ago. You definitely have my dream job! As for the blog post, I really love it! Make sure Zuzu never takes that personality trait for granted.
    Happy Woman's Day!

    1. This is one of my favorite blog comments ever! I actually e-mailed Aayla a longer reply, but in case anyone else has the same question, I told her to start with Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie's book We Should All Be Feminists (or her TED Talk). Feminism means men and women should have equal rights and equal opportunities, but it also means that work that has been traditionally feminine should get equal respect (and equal pay).

    2. Go Aayla1 And I love the "write" pun in there.

      That This American Life episode was something else. Wow.

    3. Thank you so much!

    4. I think this is one of my favourite comments that I've read too! I hope Aayla sent you a copy of her finished paper! :)

  2. Hey would you mind sating which blog platform you're using?
    I'm going to start my own blog soon but I'm having a difficult time making a decision between BlogEngine/Wordpress/B2evolution and Drupal.
    The reason I ask is because your design seems different then most blogs and I'm looking for something completely unique.
    P.S Apologies for being off-topic but I had to ask!

  3. lol at the barrel lady. Infamous!

  4. I totally cracked up when I read Zuzu wanted Annie Edson Taylor as her project subject... just so long as she doesn't carry her admiration into imitation, lol. ;) She certainly gets points for originality!