This past year has been a year of academic and personal growth. I’ve defined my major and have realistic, concrete goals to work towards. I’ve become confident in my personal skills, and have many new ones that I hope to gain. I have a decent idea of what kind of professions I could thrive in as I move forward in my studies and out into the professional world. I feel like lately, things have been falling into place for me, and that if I just keep focusing on myself, I can really achieve.
However, focusing on myself doesn’t do much to help others. Focusing on myself doesn’t solve local, national, or global issues. Focusing on myself is a good place to start, but I can do bigger and better than that. This was exactly the kind of prompt that Lamar Peterson, my painting professor, wanted us to start thinking about last semester.
On the first day of our studio class, Lamar said, “Paint an issue.” It could be large or it could be small, but it had to be powerful. I thought about all of the world issues that we face today. Climate change. Natural resources. Poverty. World hunger. Species extinction. Terrorism. War. I thought about national issues. Islamophobia. Social, economic, and political division. Inequality. Discrimination.
For my project, I chose an issue that directly involves me, one that I could understand on a personal level and could put a part of myself into: the controversial issue of being woman.
Femininity has always been a point of contention. Decisions about our bodies, our health, our salaries, the validity of our testimonies, and whether or not we are “truly” women are, for some reason, constantly put in the hands of others. And oh, if you haven’t heard, we are absolutely sick of it.
In response to the prompt, my painting features three powerful women. It’s dark and we’re alone, but we’re done being afraid. We are done ignoring cat calls and other disgusting, abhorrent slurs. We are done putting up with strangers approaching us for “just one kiss!” We are done quietly watching our male counterparts receive more pay, and we are DONE tolerating inequity. We are strong, we are united, we will take care of each other, and we will not stop fighting until we, and yes, that includes ALL women, get the equality that we deserve.
I do realize that this is idealistic (although I can’t wrap my head around why equality today remains controversial). I do realize that not all women have the privilege to act so bold. I realize that typing this from my cozy, expensive, security monitored apartment that I am extremely more privileged than most. Privilege, however, is exactly what must be realized by those who feel unobligated to this issue, unobligated because maybe gender inequality doesn’t affect them as it does others. I have the power to speak out against injustices, but more importantly, I have the responsibility.
Little did I know back in September, where the issue of gender equality was headed. There is no time I could ever be more proud to be a woman. In terms of shattering expectations, I’m not just doing so in my own personal and academic life, but I am and I will continue to do so on a larger scale, for all women.