IT’S THE SMALL THINGS
By ALEX M. EDUQUE
In a world where many have stood up in suffrage movements and to fight for equal rights for women, having a whole month to celebrate women and their cause at large is a huge victory. Equality has not always been the norm, and in some areas around the world, it sadly still is not. Even in seemingly modern nations, oppression, in varying degrees, still exists. It is undeniable that some societies are still much more seemingly masculine, some cultures still instill docility as a trait a woman must possess, and it is still much more acceptable for women (rather than men) to stay at home. Although these gender stereotypes unfortunately still exist today, we now thankfully know that all it takes are small changes to combat these mindsets. It is we who are responsible for shaping the minds of the future generation, and it is entirely in our hands how we choose to show them the world.
I was raised by, and in the presence of some of the strongest women I will ever know. It is a priceless blessing I will forever be grateful for. In a family that places women on a pedestal, and demands exactly from the women just as much (or perhaps even more) as the men, I never felt, at least in the environment I was raised in, that women were ever incapable of accomplishing certain things, or that we were ever inferior. If anything, I felt like women did not only merit the same standards, and deserve the same amount of respect in the workplace – they actually belong and are most empowered there. I was never raised with the mentality that women need to know how to cook, and be versed in domestic chores (albeit admittedly helpful) to serve their future spouses and household. Instead, I was taught that it was perfectly fine for my talents to lay outside the kitchen, for as long as I knew how to run a household, and turn a house into a home – one with warmth and an utmost overflow of love.
Perhaps this is the very reason, why when choosing friends, I tend to gravitate towards the boys. Sans the drama, and the need for colorful and flowery language to get my point across, I have never felt competition, the need to falsely flatter physical looks, or to engage in banal and mundane conversation on what the latest fashion trends are to ever tickle my fancy. In the same way that growing up in the company of stronger and older women has made me very comfortable in the presence of elders, growing up with a strong sense of security and identity which I owe to the women who raised me, has saved me many times over. It is what brought me out of the darkest and direst of situations, and has kept me grounded in the fleeting moments of victory. While a part of me will always be slightly envious of friends of mine with solid girl groups, I would not trade my chosen handful of girl (and gay) friends, and packs of cousins for anything. It is in and through them that I have learned the value of loyalty and trust, against betrayal and all odds.
And while the empowered mindset I was raised with may not sit well with just about everyone, I was also taught to respect people’s opinions and points of view. Just as I have shattered the glass ceiling a multitude of times, I know very well that there is always a proper time and place to do so. The norm is not always meant to be challenged, and when we do, we must still respect the status quo. In the same way that others are contented with sitting pretty, and while there is absolutely nothing wrong with that, women can take their inner grace, resilience, and tenacity, and use it to their advantage when trying to get a point across. And while a lot of the world will most likely judge, it is what we choose to make of their judgment. Personally, there is nothing I find more fulfilling than proving people wrong for thinking I am incapable, or thinking that I am someone who I clearly am not. I owe it to the strong women who raised me – my role models and my personal heroes – to show them that possibility itself lies in the impossible. As the famous saying goes, “Here’s to strong women. May we know them. May we be them. May we raise them.”