The "why" in empowerment

Sofia Zettermark
Posted September 6, 2011 from Sweden

When we were little girls, we used to compete in putting ourselves down.

"My picture is super ugly!" "No, mine is uglier!"

We lived in a discourse where all things girly was shunned. To run like a girl was to run slowly. To cry like a girl was to show forbidden emotion. To play with the girls, if you were a boy, was to renounce your masculinity.

We grew up in a world that interpreted our achievements as "just playing by the rules set up for good girls", while the boys were considered talented and smart for doing the same thing. A world that constantly evaluated our looks and pushed us into caring about our appearance, while simultaneously racking down on us for being superficial. A world which assumed we fell in love with boys, and would do anything for the approval of those boys. A world blind to its own faults, where equality was made in to a non-issue through a colonial discourse: equality was something other people in countries far away needed to work on. Not us.

We existed in a crossfire of musts and don'ts and shoulds, and no one ever asked why. Why the injustice? The only "why" we ever heard was the seemingly bewildered why in the sentence: "Why do so many young girls in Sweden feel depressed, suicidal or have a eating disorder?"

I found my "why" in feminism. In the light it sheds over the systems of oppression, the norms and patriarchal structures which is very much the opposite of a non-issue. I can never erase the experiences of growing up in a patriarchal world, the self doubt that comes over me ever so often, but feminist insights help me cope and believe in myself.

I believe empowerment can start with a simple "why". Why the injustice, and what can we do to change it?

Comments 4

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Nusrat Ara
Sep 07, 2011
Sep 07, 2011

Yes it all begins with a WHY and I am glad you have found the answer to your why. Keep writing and sharing.


Sep 08, 2011
Sep 08, 2011

nice :))

Parwana Fayyaz
Sep 08, 2011
Sep 08, 2011

Dearest I liked your post, it is full of stories and points that still we are facing, and I also believe on the power of feminisim, which taught me as well the empowerment of self. I hope you will keep going sharing with us. Thanks, Bests, Parwana Fayyaz

Sep 09, 2011
Sep 09, 2011

I love your writing, it actually reminded me when I was a little girl I had 3 options for my future: the great one which is a doctor, the OK one which is a teacher, and the general one which is a housewife. Though I was able to generate my own strength by reading and demanding my rights, other women are not lucky and fell in the trap to embody what they are expected to do.

thank you