I'm going to warn you now, you may not agree with what I'm about to say. I won't tolerate negative comments, but you are free to leave your polite, cited opinions in the comments if you wish.
*Steps onto soapbox*
Before we kick off our stories of strong women, I'd like to address two topics that are very near to my heart- Feminism and strength. First, the feminism...
I've seen a disturbing trend lately, where young ladies are declaring they don't need feminism. As much as I respect people's opinions on their own lives and hate to tell others what they do or don't need, I just have a hard time believing these women. Here are 5 of my reasons:
1) Without feminism, you and I, as Americans, wouldn't be able to work, own property, vote, have rights to our own bodies, or have marital rape considered a crime. We need feminism today because giving up the fight is not honoring women who dedicated their lives to making ours better. You don't just get to quit this one.
3) We still live in a society where women must fit into a certain role. Women are the weaker sex, made for child birthing and rearing, fickle minded and emotionally driven. In custody battles, women are historically more likely to be awarded custody, this is true. But that lately hasn't been proven to be because of court decisions, and it's certainly not because men hold less power.
4) There are people who still believe that a man cannot rape his wife, simply because she is his wife. That is his property to do with what he pleases. Women are still the main victims of domestic violence in the United States, especially when it comes to stalking, homes with guns, young women, and rape.
5) Historically, when Americans stop fighting issues, we regress. I don't want to get into a bunch of problems and start a bunch of arguments, but the problems that are hot buttons today are largely things that have been pushed aside, ignored, and belittled over decades. They're coming back (or amping up) now because people stopped pushing. Let's put it this way- If we stopped fighting for scientific advancements- stopped trying to make our species smarter and more efficient- we would stop making progress, and eventually backslide. Even if it's just a little, it's a problem.
You, and me, and your mom and dad, and your brothers and sisters, and your neighbors... Every person you've ever met, and all those you haven't, need feminism. It is a movement for equality. People will argue it's not, but the fact of the matter is not every movement needs to fight every issue. People that donate their time and effort to saving rain forests don't hate swamps... They just chose rain forests. Similarly, feminism isn't about hating men, it's about equality for women. Feminism does, sometimes, call for men's rights, as in seen in the case of dress codes. Feminists insist that men are more than a pair of reactive eyes and blood vessels. They have brains and can control themselves in the presence of a woman in a skirt. They can, because they are overall capable, smart, qualified humans, just as are most women.
My point in all this is- if you want to say you don't need feminism, you are welcome to that opinion. But please, find something, anything, that supports your idea before spreading it around. You could be hurting the next generation of girls without even knowing it, and, let's be honest, they have enough working against them.
It's a hard word to define. Overall, we tend to jump to the assumption that it correlates to something physical, but some of the most admirable strength is far beyond that. When someone is strong, it can be a lot of things, and the more we think, the more definitions and examples we can come up with. But the overall theme of "strength" relies on someone doing something difficult, seemingly with ease.
People that are strong are people we admire. The phrase "strong woman", specifically, has admirable connotations that many young girl strive to achieve in their families, circles of friends, and communities. As they should.
The world needs strong people, but the world we live in today needs more strong women. There can't be enough. It can come in any form at any time, but it's imperative that we keep raising strong, independent, dedicated kids to take on our battles when we're done fighting them.
So, this is why stories of strong women are important. We need them in our communities to help younger girls understand the importance of strength. They need to believe, with every little piece of their being, that they have a right to feel safe in everyday life. They need to see that they can drive change and influence the entire world, just by being who they are. They need to watch glass ceilings shatter, so they can shatter the next above. If we keep raising girls to be strong women, then eventually, hopefully, we'll be able to honestly say we don't need feminism. Until then, we'll keep on keepin' on, and tell our stories.
Our first story comes from the lovely woman who runs Pelhuaz, Zeide.
-- I do have someone who I look after. Her name is Ivana Bustamante. She is a mentor, a friend, a role model, and a "role mother". I met her back in 2005-2006 when she was assigned from Peru to help the Insular branch of the company that we worked for to establish a PMO. I wasn't Project Manager at that time, I was only a Customer Service Representative and she saw potential in me.
She managed to get me into a Project Management Training, made me part of the PMO implementation project, and made it mine. I discovered what I was really good at, thanks to her. It was like opening my eyes for the first time. I was born to be a project manager and you know that when you love to wake up everyday to go out and managed your project. Currently I'm a SAHM and use my project management knowledge everyday as a Mom and as a Small Biz owner. Even though she returned to Peru, we are still in contact (technology is a blessing) and we talk and chat frequently. Ivana is currently working in a very important office at the Peru Ministry and she is still my role model.--
From Belinda at BeeBee and Jack-
--For Women’s Equality Day I want to tell you a little about a woman who has inspired me, my paternal grandma, Gertrude, or Gert for short.
Grandma Gert did not have an easy life by any means. She was the second oldest of 4 kids and was an identical twin. Her poor mother had no idea she was pregnant with twins, so imagine her surprise when she delivered two 8+lbs babies. Grandma Gert lost her father when she was 16 to a logging accident and her mother became ill around a year later, so she gave up a full-ride scholarship to WSU to stay home and help support her mother by working in the orchards.
When she was 18-years-old, she met a strapping young man from Chelan who decided to join the navy. After about a year, they ended up getting married and starting their family. They welcomed 4 boys (Dennis, Thomas, Harry and Dale) and 1 girl (Barbara) over the next 8 years. Barbara was born with polio and lived to see her 5th birthday before she passed away. A few years later Dennis passed away in his sleep from a brain tumor at 16 years old.
Gert managed to hold down multiple jobs in between taking care of her brood and baking, cooking and canning. She became Douglas County’s Assessor in 1989 and held office for a few terms before she decided to retire. Apparently to her retiring means you just move onto doing something else because she worked in the kitchen of the Waterville school for many years and helped the church and community with any and every fundraiser they’d put on. People would come from all over Washington to get one of her pies or some of her canned goods/jams.
She was preceded in death by her husband, Howard, and shortly after that she lost another son, Harry, to stomach cancer. During this dark time in her life she was still adamant about baking and canning, along with making sure her garden was thriving. She loved cooking so much that she was preparing the chili and chowder for the church’s annual Christmas caroling before she was taken to the hospital. She insisted that the family not put anything away because she’d “be right back”. She went home to be with her husband, sons and daughter on New Year’s eve, exactly a week after she went into the hospital.
Grandma Gert has taught me that no matter what is thrown your way, it is survivable. She also taught me that life is short so hug your loved ones as much as you can.
From Michelle at The Purple Monkey-
--Someone asked me today if there were any inspirational tough women in my life. That's a tough one for me, I can think of many but I would have to say my maternal Grandma and my Mom.
My Grandma was all mine from the time I was born until I turned 5, and my stinky brother came along. She took me on all kinds of trips with her and I spent all the time I could with her. When I was around 9 years old she was diagnosed with cancer. She chose to fight like heck and she won!!! She of course got very sick and lost her hair, but you would have never known by her attitude.
Soon after her Dad got very ill she took the time and made she he was taken care of until his dying day, not knowing that all the stress of caring for her Dad would bring her cancer back full-force. This second time around she decided that she wouldn't fight, that she would rather have a quality life, not quantity. While I miss her every day and I wish she could see the beautiful great-grandkids made for her, I know she is watching over making sure I don't mess up too bad.
My Mom and I may butt heads (a lot), but in the end she did a pretty amazing job with my brother and I. She did a lot of our raising alone, but we never went without (even if we didn't agree at the time), I learned from an early age you have to work for what you want, (my brother took a little longer, he's the baby). She and I are very different in a lot of ways but I thank her for showing me how to be a loving, caring mom.
These two ladies have shown me how to live, how to fight, and how to love. I couldn't imagine my life without either of them taking part in it.
In collecting these stories, I find myself inspired by not only the strength within them, but the variety it presents itself in. The moral here is that people will be inspired by you being you. Don't let anyone tell you what it means to be a woman. It means whatever you want it to mean, and someone out there will admire you for it.
Rock on, ladies.