Friday, January 23, 2015

"This I Believe: Feminism" by Sam

This December, Advanced Composition students studied, wrote, and recorded audio essays. Students wrote and recorded their own "This I Believe" essays inspired by the weekly This I Believe Podcast. While we're publishing the text of each essay below, we strongly encourage you to listen to each student's audio essay for a more intimate experience.

Middle School sucks. It’s a time of awkward social interactions, figuring out where you fit in, puberty, and mean kids so you shouldn’t be surprised that I don’t often find myself thinking about my middle school years. Yet here I was, sitting at my desk remembering my frustration in my sixth grade science class with the history of the DNA model. “Watson and Crick created the first DNA model with the help of research from scientist Rosalind Franklin” read the textbook in front of every one of the sixteen students in the class, but my teacher soon enlightened us that Franklin did more than just “help”. Watson and Crick used the information without her consent and took all the credit while she literally died for her work by contracting cancer through radiation poisoning. 

I remember bubbling with anger at how unfair it was that they went on to win a Nobel Prize for the discovery of DNA and other awards for research that they didn’t even do. Yet somehow, even with the public knowledge of their, essential thievery, these two men are still revered in the science community while Franklin is a name almost forgotten, an add-on to the story of Watson and Crick. She had done all the work and they took the credit by simply putting it into 3D form. I was so angry I couldn’t help but asking my teacher why she wasn’t the one getting the recognition, or why Watson and Crick didn’t get into trouble. He just shrugged it off like the rest of the world seemed to have as well, and we continued trudging through the rest of the content. Although I wasn’t thinking about it at the time, I believe this to be one of the first instances of me becoming a feminist.

This is world is unfair. It is unequal and unjust, especially when it comes to gender roles. I believe in “the social, political, and economic equality of the sexes” as Beyonce puts it in the interlude of her song “Flawless”. How is it fair that men get paid more than women? Why is that men can’t cry in public and women can’t be tough? People should be allowed to be who they want to be and do what they want to do… this is America for godsake! People don't fit into cookie cutter stereotypes. They are unique individuals who shouldn’t be bound by what society says. Unfortunately we’ve all contracted a disease, one that is embedded deep, even in the small things in our culture.  

In commercials or ads women are portrayed as frail, helpless beings with unattainable perfection. Damsels in Distress. The women in my life aren’t like that. My grandmother lived behind the Iron Curtain, endured years of oppression, managed to escape with her family of five, and not only survive but thrive in America. My mother is one of the strongest people I know. She came to this country not knowing a single word of English and in less than four years was studying in one a prestigious college, even earning one of the very few spots available to study abroad in her junior year.

It saddens me when my nine-year-old sister doesn’t think she can do something because it is too boyish, or that girls shouldn’t try that, and as much as we may try this problem goes too deep to be a simple fix. People need to open their eyes and culture needs to change its outlook because as I see it, things right now aren’t right. This movement is happening, and although we have a long way to go and it may take years upon years I believe, as a nation, we can achieve equality for all.

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