The simplest way to summarize my trip down "Feminism Lane" begins with three words: sex, gender, and power. When I deemed it necessary to downsize to 12 credit hours my sophomore year at junior college, I was strongly considering dropping "Sex, Gender, and Power" over "Astronomy," because it didn’t fulfill my science requirement. "I think you would be making a huge mistake by dropping that class," my mom told me over the phone my first week into class. She must have known something I didn’t. In fact, I recently dug up a note she wrote me later that year, which expressed excitement over my new class selection that would, no doubt, "expand my mind."
"Sex, Gender, Power" was an incredible path of self-discovery, frustration, and revelation. Why was it possible for a husband to rape his wife? Why do marriage ceremonies still convey traditional notions of women as property? Furthermore, why had I never been taught about gender inequality in other places (i.e. high school, my parents, etc)? I was fortunate enough to have a magnificent teacher who made the entire experience a worthwhile venture that changed my outlook, my education (I FINALLY decided on my major after taking this sociologically-based class), and ultimately...my life.
My transfer to NIU only aided in increasing my desire to pursue classes, clubs, etc. which were related to equality, namely relating to women. I felt a Women's Studies minor would perfectly compliment my Sociology major, and, thus, began taking courses with relevant themes such as women in history, women in contemporary America, and the like. Though I wasn't always the most intelligent student in the class, I nevertheless enjoyed the dialogue and felt I had found my NIU niche. Despite the fact that I had participated in events with a few women-themed groups on campus, I wasn't exactly settled or committed. Eventually, however, I received an alert indicating that the Women's Resource Center was searching for volunteers. I jumped at the opportunity, which felt so strangely....right.
My first week as a volunteer at the WRC was a breath of fresh air, a revitalization if you will. My volunteer coordinator expressed the appreciation and welcome attitude I had been searching out for months. I was fortunate enough to be offered the position of student worker for the following semester, which I gladly accepted. I couldn't help but think of what my sister had told me after reading The Secret: if you want something bad enough, it will come to you. New age philosophy aside, I was thrilled beyond belief, and was more than excited to create and present my first educational outreach programs (FeminINK, Faith and Feminism). Each semester gets progressively better, but I can't help but wonder where I would be if my mom hadn't been a guiding light of encouragement. The WRC is family. The WRC has been a source of much needed support and education. The WRC has opened more doors than I can acknowledge. To name a few (I'm not typically a "bragger," but one must give credit where credit is due): an internship with Planned Parenthood, an invitation to speak at a Young Women's conference, the opportunity to re-present "Faith and Feminism" within the community, the appointment as a peer instructor, experience with the university hiring process, programming skills (creating, implementing, advertising, etc), and exposure to LOTS of fantastic people.
My learning process if far from over. Still, I remain grateful for my position at the WRC and for the passion of that one teacher who changed my life. I know everyone who has been affected be feminism has their own story and own path to discovery, but I can't help but share mine because it is a constant and bittersweet reminder of how far I've come and what I hope to one day become. Want to know what's so great about the WRC? Check out our website or stop in and see for yourself. Want to know what's so great about feminism? Check out some of the eye-opening reading materials from our ever-expanding lending library, as well as a more recent, personal favorite Full Frontal Feminism by Jessica Valenti.
If you ask my why I'm a feminist, I'll tell you. I do it for my mom, in hopes that I might acquire the knowledge I wish she had discovered and that she might be proud of my accomplishments and what I've become. I do it for all oppressed persons who need a voice, a chance at equality, and a reason to know they deserve such. I am a feminist because I enjoy the challenge, and because I value its ability to capture the interconnectedness of the struggles of women, LGBT persons, those in the racial "minority," and anyone and everyone in between. I claim the title of feminist because it is a little bit edgy, because it challenges you to think, and because it contains a lot of spunk...just like me. I am a feminist because "Sex, Gender, and Power" helped me find my "calling," and turned me on to a world of wonderful people who care enough to fight for equality some only dream of. I am a feminist because I hope to someday make a difference in someone else's life.
two weddings and some feminism
7 years ago