“Ultimately feminism is about women choosing the destiny that they want for themselves. If a woman wants to choose to stay at home with her children, that should be a choice that she can pursue. On the flipside, if a woman wants to choose an entirely different life for herself, we need to make that possible as well.”
~Alexandria Ocasio Cortez
Aspiring for a career in this competitive world is incredibly difficult. Lately I have been wondering how I will manage to reach a notable position when I enter the work force in the near future. I know I am still a college student and I have plenty of time to preoccupy myself with this, yet I can’t help but think about it. People say there are plenty of opportunities out there, but I wonder who these opportunities are for. Given the current political climate we are living under, the one where world leaders believe only certain groups of people are worthy of achieving success, I worry about how others will receive me when I pursue coveted professions as a proud Puerto Rican woman. For the longest time society has tried to segregate people who challenge established norms. They always told me men where most likely to earn the high- powered careers because women have different priorities to entertain, and I was warned that, if I ever tried to refute this mentality, I would fail miserably. Now, following this week’s US midterm elections, I have witnessed great progressive changes that ease my concerns. As I sit here and celebrate the many women who are now occupying important places in politics, government, and other diverse fields, I want to establish what this means for all women who want to participate in their ambitions. As far as I am concerned, women are the underdogs, we are forces of great value in the face of any working group, and we deserve to be standing uninhibitedly beside men while sharing respect, dignity, and equality.
Alexandria Ocasio Cortez recently became the youngest representative of congress in the district of New York, and learning that this 29-year-old woman has ascended this far in her career in spite of the fact that politics is a field that is usually dominated by men, has helped open a new realm of possibility for people from all demographics. Along with her, Muslim, Native American, and Hispanic women have also reached high seats in congress and traced an influential path for individuals like me, who are looking for leaders that have the courage to run for these positions and make them available for the rest of us. I know there are a lot of people who see this election as something completely unprecedented, but it’s going to be very interesting to see these competent females address the issues of our time. It’s refreshing to make space for people from all cultures, religions, genders, and races in these vital platforms. Also, knowing that congress is filled with powerful women gives me hope, and I can hear that little 10-year-old me cheering in the background, that same child who though she was going to grow up and stay home and wait for a husband, even though she really wanted to read, learn, and speak her mind!
Sometimes as women we need to fight a very stiff fight in order to be recognized in the work we do. It often seems as though, no matter what our goal is, we are heavily criticized for making decisions for ourselves and being confident about what we think. I know women who have been silenced in the classroom for being “too aggressive” or “too emotional” with their points of view. I also know of women who have been shamed for deciding to be homemakers. The reality is that, regardless if a woman is studying and working, or meeting the needs of her family in the household, both jobs are equally challenging and have the same importance. I used to look at these situations with fear because, even though I am aiming for a promising future, I was afraid of being limited and censured. I’m the type of person who doesn’t want to decide between established alternatives. I want to create options for myself, choose my own way, and balance everything I have in hand. My aspiration is to be a dedicated contributor of the world and to work with all types of people. I never wanted to live in the shadows of a man, and now that these women have risen and conquered, I don’t have to!
There are many people who misinterpret the meaning behind feminism and gender equality. Any movement that strives to change discrimination can take extremes. Feminism is not the belief that women are superior to men, but rather the idea that men and women should exist on even ground. I wouldn’t want anything more than to commend a man for his hard work just as long as he is willing to reciprocate the effort. When people say two heads together work better than one, they have a point. I’m sure that I will never be able to achieve success on my own, without the help of my peers. This is why it is necessary to provide inclusive work environments for men and women. Nobody should be overlooked or disregarded, and young people who are in the process of preparing for certain careers today shouldn’t be worried about feeling this way.
With this historic election, I see there is plenty of room for me and many individuals dreaming to be self-sufficient and authentic in this competitive world. As long as we continue to prepare in order to assume these positions, I predict a future filled with more women in congress, more female governors, a time where men are not threatened by a woman’s passion, a place where people are focused on addressing the problems that infiltrate our lives instead of building tensions amongst certain groups. Nobody has ever assumed that these many women would stand out in front of what was commonly known as a male centered workforce. This is why women are the underdogs of today’s society. Clearly, now I don’t have a reason to worry, because even though the climb towards a fruitful career will be steep and long, I have incontrovertible proof that anyone is capable of taking on the journey.
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