Women's issues have always been important to me, even before I realized it. In elementary school, my mother told me about how marriage and children were expected for most women. A girl married over the age 25 was considered "old". Sometimes education was emphasized but it was always in the context of finding a good husband---the ultimate prize.
Her experiences, even the ones I was not around for, molded me into questioning the roles we get into, the definitions we cultivate for what a successful future is. She's always pushed me to find purpose and make something that's truly my own, whether that's through words, medicine, or causes to fight for. She found power through her singing. Most of all, she reminded me to respect the choices of my fellow peers.
Last night, I shirked any hope of studying and writing when the documentary Makers came on PBS. It reminded me that because of many strong women, from Gloria Steinem to my mother, I have the luxury of choice in so many ways. Even my confusion and uncertainty are luxuries. I can have open, insightful conversations with my friends who have chosen to marry early and those who are choosing not to marry at all. I can sift out messages from the media that skew body image and discard them. I can define parts of myself that have no relation to anybody else.
In addition, I have recognized that various men in my life have also been empowering. My father always quizzed me when I struggled in certain subjects. He promised me at a young age that I'd never have to worry about getting support for education. When I began driving, he taught me how to make sure I'd never get ripped off at a car dealership. He's also the reason I always had high standards for the way a man should treat me.
Things have changed since my parents and I immigrated here in the late 1980's. There's still a long way to when it comes to equality but I think it's okay to celebrate how far we've come.
"Some of us are becoming the men we wanted to marry." Gloria Steinem
"Human rights are women's rights and women's rights are human rights." Hillary Clinton
"Well behaved women seldom make history." Laurel Thatcher Ulrich
"I hate to hear you talk about all women as if they were fine ladies instead of rational creatures. None of us want to be in calm waters all our lives." Jane Austen, Persuasion