“There are days I want people to like me more than I want to change the world.”
Blythe Baird’s poem, “Pocket Sized Feminism,” is always a poem that I always keep in my back pocket. In her poem she talks about what it is like to speak up as a woman when dealing with topics like sexual assault, sexism and what it means to be a woman in general.
There’s a video of her performing her poem on YouTube, and in those two minutes and 50 seconds I feel sadness and anger rise inside me. I nod my head and scream “Yes” in my room. Loud, but not loud enough so my family can hear me.
But I also feel an overwhelming call to action. I want to change the world for myself and women all around, right then and there. I will sit in bed and think about the words that I just heard, and then the adrenaline is gone as soon as it came.
“Is she likable enough?” by New York Times writer Jessica Bennett is another example of a piece that gives me a quick sense to get up, and my hero complex will be turned on again.
In her article she targets women in the workplace, specifically women in power. She explains that women will fall into this likeability trap because women don’t want to be called difficult when trying to be authoritative.
Again, I am nodding my head and thinking about all my friends I could send this to because I want them to feel empowered the same way I am when reading Bennett’s words.
The thing is, I didn’t stumble upon this article. I have a subscription to The New York Times. I get emails from a certain area of women-related topics called “In Her Words”. I don’t seek out news articles unless they might affect me in some way.
When I do read the news, it’s about women and college girls that have been killed, catcalled, or have almost been attacked and ways to prevent it from happening again.
Why is it that I only feel powerful when reading words like the ones Blythe and Bennett write? I think that it is a little disappointing that I understand on a personal level when a woman is talking about their trauma.
Even when the trauma has not happened to me, I can feel her pain because in the back of my mind I know that someday I might, and I hate that. I hate that I live in this constant state of fear and that I feel better when I read and see that there are other women that feel the same.
Women feel connected when we can understand each other. Maybe I don’t feel powerful in another woman’s misery, but I understand where they are coming from.
Maybe that empowerment and sudden urge to shape the world is not a bad thing but just a buildup so that when I have the opportunity to speak up and change minds, I can think of every moment that I nodded my head and have all the written words of the women that inspired me ready at hand.
Maybe I am interested in powerful words that women write simply because I feel powerful when I read them. And maybe that’s the point. I feel powerful as I write this, and my goal is for whoever reads it feel that same way.