True story. An old white man first opened my eyes to the urge to dismantle the patriarchy.
Dr. Crowley taught World Civilizations History at my undergraduate university. He looked like a normal dude, except he wore professor clothes like turtlenecks with blazers.
He liked to give the “Live long and prosper,” Mr. Spock gesture, or else raise a fist in the air and shout, “Power to the people!”
Like many of my college peers, I had never really thought much about racism and sexism except as an outside observer, detached and without awareness of my own place in anything. Lucky me.
Dr. Crowley seemed to be amused by his students’ sheltered-assed dumbfuckery. His eyes sparkled and he smiled as he gently challenged us on our blind privilege, like he got a kick out of the whole thing.
THE WOMEN’S HISTORY OF THE WORLD by Rosalind Miles. This was mandatory reading for all of Dr. Crowley’s students.
The book seemed to be everywhere, as much a part of the university fabric as the old Texas limestone buildings or the fountain on the academic mall. It was a rite of passage for my fellow history majors, and many non-majors who swarmed to bask in Dr. Crowley’s aura.
We talked about it in dorm rooms, in the dining commons, and during pretentious drunken conversations on disgusting fraternity house sofas.
Dr. Crowley was smart. He knew what he was doing in handing this book over to a bunch of mostly traditional white kids. He was WOKE AF before being WOKE AF was even a thing.
True story. The book blew my mind, re-shaping everything I thought I understood about our world and human civilizations, as if I were Dorothy, stepping out of the black and white house and into the Technicolor. Suddenly it all made sense. All of the messages I received my entire life about what it meant to be a girl or a boy.
I never looked back, funneling my undergraduate work into women’s studies and women’s history, trying to absorb as much information as I could to help me understand how we got to where we are now in this world.
My life took a pivot, thanks to Dr. Crowley, and the assignment of that book. I hope that in my life I can have the honor of sharing something as meaningful with another person.
Meanwhile, let’s keep working together to make our world safe and loving for all humans. We’ve got a big job to do.
Live long and prosper! Power to the people!