It is too easy to take for granted the opportunities that we have today as women. We feel almost equal. We can choose colleges, careers, vote, and do not depend on men to sustain a life. We can marry for love, and most importantly, we can truly find ourselves, and serve our purpose.
A few years back I had a conversation with my mom and a friend of hers, when they casually mentioned how their options out of high school were to become a nurse, a secretary, or a teacher. It struck me that twenty plus years ago this was the case; that my generation was one of the first generations of women to be told that we can be whatever we want to be. My whole life, I have felt entitled to my dreams, my career aspirations, and sought my soul’s purpose. We have come so far from days women had to wear skirts and bring coffee to their bosses.
Today we get to wear skirts if we feel like it, and if we want to be a barista, we can. We can also head large corporations and lead in the political arena. We get to discover what we are capable of, and as it turns out, we are capable of a whole lot.
Popular culture holds up a different mirror than gratitude for the brave women who paved the way. We are far more fascinated with women who simply look pretty. Much of our aspirations are to look good and to look rich, and to be the envy of all of the other girls. To truly succeed as a woman, looks play a large role. Women in politics are smothered by men and women alike. There is still a quiet undertone of a women’s capabilities in our society. Deflated footballs are still a bigger deal than domestic abuse scandals, and even today an average woman makes 78 cents for every dollar made by her male counterpart, given equal experience and education. That’s making almost 1/4 less than a man, simply because of your gender.
We do, however, have outstanding women who are worth paying attention to. These women are a reminder of the road that is being laid for us, sacrificing it all so that others have a chance. These women represent the importance of unity amongst the human race, compassion, and possibility in each individual. These women are restoring a balance to humanity that has been offset by the egotistic male-dominated landscape for thousands of years–encouraging a shift to greater equanimity.
I hope that these three modern feminist icons inspire you to know your own power to be the change you would like to see!
“It is not power that corrupts, but fear. Fear of losing power corrupts those who wield it and fear of the scourge of power corrupts those who are subject to it.” -Aung San Suu Kyi
Aung San Suu Kyi, a 1991 recipient for the Nobel Peace Prize, is running for president in Myanmar, the former Burma. She is a champion for democracy, yet believes in introducing it slowly, and combining it with the love and compassion of Buddhism. She had already been elected to office in 1988, but instead was forced into house arrest for fifteen years. During her imprisonment, she studied Buddhist principles, meditated, and formulated her comeback. Suu Kyi follows Gandi’s lead in non-violent action. If elected and allowed to serve as president, she will be a force that will be nothing less than inspiring.
“Let us pick up our books and our pens, they are the most powerful weapons.” Malala Yousafzai
Malala Yousafza is the youngest recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize in history. By now, you surely have been touched by her. Her strength against the Taliban, that she considers love over fear, even transmits through the television set. Since being shot in the head by the terrorist group, she has moved to England and is working to educate women around the world through her organization, the Malala Fund. With an entire lifetime ahead of her, be sure to watch this remarkable woman blossom.
“I’ve come to believe that each of us has a personal calling that’s as unique as a fingerprint – and that the best way to succeed is to discover what you love and then find a way to offer it to others in the form of service, working hard, and also allowing the energy of the universe to lead you. ”
― Oprah Winfrey
Media mogul Oprah Winfrey has influenced us like none other. Most of us know her story: poor Southern roots, a childhood plagued with tragedies of abuse, rape, and drug abuse. As far as appearing on television goes, the odds were against her. She started off on a news station as a heavy black woman, when women weren’t earning anchor jobs, never mind black women. Still today, you would be hard-pressed to find a heavy-set woman broadcasting the news. Yet, she grabbed one television job after another. The Oprah show, as you may remember, metamorphesised from a seedy talk show that was popular in the nineties, to a show that inspired us in the 2000’s, sparking off a revolution where people began to seek their “best selves.” Though many hold it against her that she is a multi-billionaire, who better than Oprah? She is involved in many philanthropic organizations, including her school in Africa for girls. Since the Oprah Show ended, Oprah’s brainchild, the OWN network, has showcased programming unknown to mainstream television. Oprah interviews and documents spiritual leaders and stories, teaching us how to meditate, pray, seek our soul’s purpose, find gratitude in dire times, accept our selves, and love this life. Oprah has opened up “New Age,” “hippy-dippy” and “spirituality”so that all of the goodness and potential we are is not what society considers fringe ideals, rather tools to live an abundant life. There is a truly wonderful movement happening at the moment, and Oprah is a main catalyst.
Do you have a favorite modern feminist icon?
Also by Jess: Vegan Massaman Curry
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Photo: Claude Truong-Ngoc via Wikipedia Commons; Russell Watkins via Wikipedia commons;