I am young, fresh out of college and quickly realizing how heavily gender politics influence my life. When I first learned about “Obvi, We’re the Ladies,” I was eager to participate but felt I needed to start figuring a few things out before I could be confident in writing about my experiences and opinions. I felt the need to explore my personal privilege. My perspective is, after all, limited due to my subjective experience. I needed to address and educate myself on issues I am ignorant about. Most importantly, I felt the need to think about the bigger issue of why I want to write in the first place and how I want to participate in the larger conversation.
I grew up in a middle-class household in the suburbs of Chicago surrounded by an enormous and incredible network of extended family. Like most families, we’ve experienced an amount of tragedy and hardships, but all in all I would say I’ve lived a life much more comfortable than most and have been given more than any person can rightfully ask for. Over the past four years in college, I have come to realize just how essential this good fortune has been to my success so far. This realization presented itself most clearly in my last semester, when I began to realize just how detached my experience has been from most people of different classes and races.
My mother was brought up in a ‘traditional’ Mexican family, but for all intents and purposes, I have experienced most of life as a middle-class white American. Understanding that this greatly affects how I see the world, and therefore the place of women in society, I feel a strong obligation to expand my understanding of how feminist issues arise and are being dealt with by women of other classes and races.
I expect that putting these ideals into practice will be one of the biggest yet most fulfilling challenges I will face as I come into my own. To start, I have promised myself to speak out when issues arise in conversation with strangers and loved ones alike dealing with subjects related to social inequality on all fronts. As I have already been called stupid and insecure on more than one occasion since beginning to execute this promise, I can tell that continuing to do so will not prove easy; but it’s a challenge I’m willing to face.
I have also promised myself, as I move forward, to use all of my willpower to speak up and defend myself when I encounter physical manifestations of misogyny in the future; to remind myself that I don’t owe anybody who doesn’t respect my mind and body a single thing.
I’ve come to realize that although my identity as a woman isn’t the only important part of my identity, it is a part of myself that bleeds into and fuses with all the rest. I believe that by continuing to examine and adapt the way I see and carry myself as a woman, I can reach a more complete idea of who I am as a person and I look forward to pursuing those conclusions alongside the other amazing women writing for Obvi.