Editorial by Magdalena Knapp
When I was younger, my mom used to read fairy tales to me before bedtime. Almost every story was about a young, beautiful girl who needed to be saved by a strong prince. These damsels in distress have been role models have been promoted to little girls for centuries: the idea that a woman needs a strong man to take care of her or to save her. Really? God, no! Every woman is strong enough to make it on her own, she does not need someone to take care of her. The focus of this editorial, strong women, is also what the first keynote panel of McKendree’s 2018 Global Awareness Week was all about. Global Awareness Week is an annual collaboration by faculty, staff and students on our campus to promote more awareness for cultural diversity and global issues.
Women in the 21st century society still struggle with inferiority biases. Society, TV shows, and books promote the image of a woman that needs male protection…an image that is totally overrated. Wonder Woman is the perfect example of a strong woman. She is strong, independent, beautiful, and can do whatever she wants; anything is possible for her. There’s one problem: she is not real. But we are real, you and I, and the keynote panel focused on the empowerment of women, showing that women do not need a strong male role model, every woman can be a role model for herself and other women.
In some cultures, such as the Indian culture, the father is the breadwinner of the family, and the family strives to have a son as their first child. Women nowadays are aiming above this line. “There needs to be a change,” says Shruti Desai, Assistant Vice President of Student Affairs at McKendree. Professor Lauren Thompson spoke about her childhood: She did not have a strong male role model, because she was raised by her mother, and because of this she has believed that women are capable of doing anything they want to. When she went to college and explored the big world outside of her hometown, she was told that she could not do anything she wanted. Many women are told “no” too many times in their professional life.
One important thing that was mentioned many times during the panel was that women have to support each other, because this is the best form of support a woman can get. An example that was mentioned was that we do not have to support Hillary Clinton’s politics, but we have to support her as the strong woman she is. We have to help her to fight against the issues she is facing in an almost entirely male dominated environment. We, as women have to bond together and support her and women like her and the work they are doing for women.
In past decades, black sororities, which you can read more about here, helped women of color to develop strength and to help them feel empowered. But women of every skin color need to feel this kind of empowerment. If we do not feel it, we need to find someone who can teach us how to become more self-confident and independent. A strong female role model would be Michelle Obama. She had to face many issues in her life, but got stronger and stronger after every setback. This is what strong women must do.
Who are your female role models? Who inspires you as a woman to be a better person every day and to overcome obstacles with pride? Let us know in the comments below!