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My Quest To Become A Better Highly Imperfect Feminist

03/08/2017 04:26 EST | Updated 03/08/2017 04:26 EST

Am I a feminist?

A definition, first:

1. Adjective. Sometimes, feministic.

Advocating social, political, legal and economic rights for women equal to those of men.

2. Noun

An advocate of such rights.

man thinking

(Photo: Jacoblund via Getty Images)

By that definition, am I a feminist? As I often tell my truly feminist wife: I aspire to be a feminist, but I'm not there yet. Just as I practice law -- just as I see myself as a writer/musician/painter-in-progress, one who has yet to produce anything truly worthwhile -- I am incomplete. I have much to learn, and many miles to go. Perhaps on the day I die, I will be closer to being a feminist. For now, I remain highly imperfect.

When I was younger, during my undergrad years, I was an idiot. I hung out with a bunch of residence guys who were similarly idiotic. We got involved in student politics and got taught a few painful lessons we richly deserved, principally by and about Carleton's Women's Centre.

In the same era, on a personal level, I was cruel and reckless with hearts of many (many) women. When I came home to Calgary for law school, my dad looked at me one night in September 1984 and said, in that way he had: "I disapprove of how you were when you were student council president. And I am very disappointed by how you have been in your relationships. You have not been a gentleman."

So, what is a feminist? Not me, not yet.

If you knew my dad, you would know why those words cut me like a knife and why I never forgot them. They affect me to this day.

So began a period where I commenced (in typical guilt-stricken-Warren Irish Catholic fashion) a quest for absolution. Lisa would perhaps tell you that (again, typically) I have gone to the opposite extreme -- and that, like all converts, I have been desperately trying to make up for lost time.

As such, on many days, I actually despise men. I do. I regard men as the principal source of all evil in the world. I tell Lisa -- who listens, patiently, but never agrees -- that wars, crimes and most misdeeds are committed (overwhelmingly) by men. That men are the ones who (overwhelmingly) do evil, to women and children. That men are (to me, at least) dispensable, biologically and otherwise.

man lake

(Photo: Mike Powell via Getty Images)

She listens, and then she reminds me that we are the parents to four amazing young men. She tells me that our obligation, as parents, is to equip them with an unshakable commitment to equality and an unwavering desire to render a better world for all the varying shades of gender. She's right, of course.

There are those days when I look down south -- and I see the piece of human garbage who occupies the highest office -- and I rage. But, eventually, she calms me down. (She's not stopping me from my next book being about male self-loathing, however.)

Anyway, anyhow. I should conclude this little confessional by saying that I am not on my odyssey of feminist self-discovery for Lisa, or our two daughters, or my mom, or some other woman. I am not doing it for them. I am on this quest, for me, to be a better man.

So, what is a feminist? Not me, not yet. I am trying to get to that distant shore, but I still have a long way to go, and I still have many sins for which I must atone.

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