Enough is Enough: Done With Being The Quiet Good Girl

I need feminism because.... Taken by Ileana Jimenez
“I need feminism because I need to destroy all the Latino myths told to future generations. I need to be public and fierce.”
(photo credit: Ileana Jiménez)

I need feminism because I need to destroy all the Latino myths told to future generations and I need to be public and fierce.

In her documentary, Gloria: In her Own Words, Gloria Steinem states, “We are the women our parents warned us about.”

As a young feminist in training, I plan on listening to Steinem when she states, “Listen to the voice inside you,” and destroy the dangerous single stories told to children.

Growing up with traditional Dominican parents, I had to believe everything I was told because parents are always right in my family’s world. My family always complimented me for being a good girl. It took me years to realize that one of the reasons I was called a good girl was because I was a quiet girl who never spoke up. I allowed myself to get comfortable with being quiet all the time and let people tell me things with which I did not always agree.

In my family, there are different expectations for men and the women. For us girls, we are expected to have more integrity than the men. Now that I have taken this high school feminism course, I notice the way my little cousins are influenced by what they see in the media and by what their parents tell them.

For example, it is frustrating to see my 9 year old girl cousin think that she has to be skinny in order to be pretty. About two weeks ago, I spoke to her and she said, “why is my little brother not fat and he eats more than I do and I have a belly.” She sounded frustrated and I could not understand how a 9 year old was already concerned about how she looks. Her mother makes her think that the only way she could be pretty is if she is skinny and in style. Her mother dresses her with the latest designer clothes and even provides her with pretty handbags.

I sometimes envy my little cousin because her mother lets her paint her nails and I couldn’t even paint mine until I was 15. No matter how hard I try to change her mentality, she still thinks the way she does because the media supports what her mother tells her. It makes me wonder how can we change the minds of the already corrupted? Becoming a feminist is going to be challenging for me because it is not easy to try to change the minds of those who are already committed to their beliefs.

Our feminism class watched a very inspiring documentary, Killing Us Softly, by feminist media critic Jean Kilbourne. One thing out of the many observations that Kilbourne said that stayed with me was how young girls are dressed as grown women, and women are dressed as little girls in the media. This is the “new sexy” in our society today. Our society is letting little girls think it is fine to look older than your age and telling grown women that they need to look like little girls.

Kilbourne illustrates how “advertising tells us, as it always has, that what’s important is how we look.” She also states that “girls are getting the message . . . that they need to be impossibly beautiful.”

I am guilty of being one of those girls who occasionally finds her self hating and complaining about the way I look. Seeing my little cousin starting at the age of 9 and wanting to be like an “impossibly beautiful Barbie” makes me want to take action.

Taking this feminism class has exposed me to the many problems women face everyday in our toxic society. As my level of awareness rose in this class, so did my level of confidence. Feminism has challenged my beliefs and has made me want to get up from my seat and take action.

At the a StopSlut Coalition Conference I attended, Suzy Esposito, an artist for Rookie and Bitch Magazine, explained how as feminists, we are all going to approach things differently, but that we all agree on one thing, which is change for women needs to happen. As a feminist, I have had enough and cannot sit any longer listening to children get brainwashed in my own family and all over the world.

I am done with being the quiet girl because enough is enough!

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