The weekend of Friday the 13th is usually a scary time in American culture, but for year’s I’ve looked forward to this special day for a very different reason.

On January 13th, 1954 my grandparents, Donald Kearns (86) and Ruth Kearns (88), got married and 63 years later they’re still going strong.

Don and Ruth Kearns on their wedding

Their love is a love I celebrate. Most people might say that they are Daddy’s girls or Mama’s boys, but me, I’m a Grandparent’s gal.

As I celebrate my Grandparents 63 years of love on this day; I realize that a lot of my identity and beliefs on feminist behavior and feminist ideology have come from watching the way my 80-year-old grandparents have shown their love for one another over the years.

Although many people have the idea that tradition and older generations are stuck in a misogynistic era, I’m proud to say that over the years my 80 year old grandparents display feminist traits that even you can use to make your everyday life more feminist.

When I was first diving into what it meant to be a feminist, I spent a lot of time reading, exploring, and most of all, observing. I soon realized that one of my own definitions of true feminism came from witnessing how my Grandpa takes care of my Grandma and vice versa.

One of the things I pinpointed at a very young age as different and interesting was a rule my Grandparents established. If my Grandma ever made dinner, my Grandpa would have to clean up after the meal. I don’t remember a dinner at their house where my Grandpa wasn’t doing the dishes. At 80 years old he still bends down over the sink and somehow scrubs away built up dirt and patriarchy with every wipe.

Author and Grandpa

It’s more than just doing the dishes every time your wife makes a meal. For me, this was kindness displayed through equality. But in many households, this is not a common tendency. From a very early point in their relationship, my Grandparents established that chores and tasks are not met by gender, but by who has the skill and ability.

Not only could feminists learn from my Grandparents but I’m sure big corporations could too. As long as my Grandparents have been a team, they have worked as a unit, striving to make life on the planet better for their children (my Mom and Aunt) and the hundreds of people whose lives they have touched.

When my Grandparents were first married in the 50’s, my Grandma was the one with the car, at a time when the car and any other property was usually owned by the primary breadwinners, or the man. However, at the beginning of their marriage both my Grandparents were working professionally and often my Grandma would let my Grandpa drive the car without a threat to their relationship or social economic standing. Now that’s feminism in action!

Ruth Kearns, on the beach taken on the day she met Don Kearns

On the other side of the scale my Grandpa encountered reverse gender roles when he became the main caretaker of the family; as my Grandma headed back to Kansas to take care of her dying family. My Grandpa jumped into action, making meals, cleaning, and learning to stretch and sew, all without questioning his role in the family and society.

In the late 70’s my Grandpa took up sewing as a full-time hobby in order to bond with my mom and as a fun way to make clothing. He wasn’t afraid of the stigma and in fact made several skirts for my Grandma as gifts.

My Grandparents’ unorthodox roles weren’t always met with compassion. My Grandpa recalls when he received nasty retorts from a few fathers one day after, news spread that he had made the High-School graduation dress for my Aunt, a traditionally feminine task.

I’m sure they still might have some archaic traditions because they came from a different era than I did. Although I view my Grandparents in the highest regard, they’re far from perfect. But that’s what adds to their true feminist nature; the honesty that comes with a relationship where two people work to be their best selves, and strive to be equal with one another in every regard.

If my 80-year-old grandparents can be proud feminists, so can you! Feminism isn’t scary, and it’s not hard to do. Take a moment today, pick one task and strive to make the world just a little more equal.

Happy Anniversary Grandma and Grandpa. Here’s to you and all that you taught me and to many more celebrations of your love.


Don and Ruth, today!