“Keep your head down, and only speak when spoken to.” I’ve heard this one too many times and it’s influenced most of my decisions as a young woman. Never wanting to give an opinion because it made no difference and never making eye contact because I believed I was inferior to men. I was under the pressure of the male gaze to conform but never intrigued by their interest in me because I wasn’t interested in them. Reminding myself that I am more than the fixed box that society has stuffed women into, we are the essence. I am a lioness, a female lion. I possess all the qualities that make me a powerful human being, in a world full of bullies. I support those beside me that identify as women and those who respect the “woman” in us. For every misogynist, there is an even greater amount of feminist.
Derived from a history of trailblazers, who sacrificed their lives to combat the inequalities amongst genders and the limitations placed on women. From human rights to women’s suffrage, we knew a change was making its way to the development of our society. I spent most of my life admiring Maya Angelou and Gloria Steinem for launching publications to promote civil rights, and ultimately being the voice for women in a male dominating era.
When I was in 5th grade, I was harassed by a few boys in my class because I participated often, addressed inappropriate comments, and was one of the three fastest students in my elementary school. Every day for lunch, I’d be approached by boys in my school, and they’d say “You must be a lesbian because no girl runs that fast. You won’t ever have a man because you are one.” In response, I’d smile but really it broke me down often because I enjoyed running and it infuriated me to be made fun of. Until one day, my aunt introduced me to a video of Gloria Steinem expressing, “Don’t think about making women fit the world — think about making the world fit women.” Relief rushed across my face, and my posture adjusted, I thought, “Wow, I’m ready.” I am ready to be the unapologetic young woman in a community full of controlling and self-obsessed boys.
The very next day I walked into class, grabbing Earl by his shirt and I said, “I don’t need to fit you, you need to fit you. See you at the gym, crybaby.” Confident in my duty to be the first young girl to stand up to the boys but also sure of my duty as a female to dismantle the biases and sexist attitudes developed by men against women. Conforming to public and family expectations made me feel small, and I was in dire need of liberty, so I took it! To boost the social development of communities means to empower one another and to promote the fulfillment of our potential. Saying yes to what gives you joy and saying no to anything strips you of the liberty to self-express and achieve optimal success.