By: Christopher Titus
After reading the title you might think of an individual that was raised a granola eating progressive. However, I have completely condescended that stereotype. I am a heterosexual white middle class man raised within the Catholic school system that just happened to be born into a progressive family. From some of my first memories included watching my extended family members having political debates on current issues. The most popular topic of discussion was the debate of gender equality. Not only because it was always a hot button issue to discuss but because of our family structure. It was a matriarchal structure because of the majority of the family members were women but also because the strongest and most influential member of the family was my grandmother. She was a woman of great character that dedicated her life to social justice around the world. She believed the best way to achieve this was to pass her beliefs of social equality for all race, religions, sexuality, and genders to her children and grandchildren.
I was one of these children that was fully inducted into my grandmother’s social justice warrior program. The reason it was so important for my grandmother to teach the children these principles was her own personal experiences of not being seen as an equal because of her gender in terms of education. This always infuriated her since she knew she was smarter than all the boys in her classes but they were able to have more of an opportunity to achieve higher education. She worked hard to ensure that she would be able to get to college. Her mission started at a young age when she competed in the National Spelling Bee coming in second place in 1930s. With this achievement she earned a scholarship to help pay for her future college tuition. When she decided to go to college she was met with disapproval from her father, who did not like the idea of a woman being college educated. My grandmother decided to go against her father and attend Otterbein College. There she received two Bachelor’s degrees in English and French. During her last year in college she went back home and was set up on a blind date with my grandfather who fell in love with her because of her intelligence and opinions on how people should be treated. After both of them finished their degrees they were married and had 11 children, one those being my father. In total breakdown it was eight girls and three boys.
My grandmother wanted to show her children a good example, so anytime she could she would help out people. This later turned into her activism work during the 1960s that would last the rest of her life. She fought for an equal society that refrained from using violence at all costs. She took this role as an activist as a full-time job with her side job of being a librarian. She kept her bookshelves at home lined with feminist literature and taught to her children the equality the genders have no matter if they are men or women.
Fast forward to my parents meeting, my dad brought my mom home to get the stamp of approval. My grandmother instantly loved her because of their shared ideals of a progressive society that included gender equality, even though I think they would both admit to thinking that women are the better sex. They have instilled the belief of equality on me as much as they could battling with my peers and societal norms that contradicted their efforts to teach me the right way to teach people. This past year my grandmother passed, our last conversation was typical, we discussed my life, politics, and how women are represented into society. Even in our last conversation she still managed to teach me the importance of equality. The ideals taught to me by both of these women will last a lifetime and hopefully I will be able to pass it down to others just like they did.
Christopher Titus is a Kent State University student majoring in Public Communication and Political Science.