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Female Empowerment Today

March 13, 2016

When I embarked on the path to complete an education that would provide for my family and create a career for my future I was 32 years old, married and had two kids. I ended up choosing a career path that was dominated by women, and many of my classes had a ratio of 60 plus women to an average of about 6 to 10 men.

As we often engaged in an open debate on a lot of issues we all had to deal with not only the realities of how society viewed each of us culturally, but we all had to address our individual views of how societal influences affected each of us specifically as men and women.

The benefit I got in being a non-traditional college student was that I had no misconception regarding what college was about. There were no disillusions about partying, meeting people and hooking up, my college experience was framed by the moniker of learning to think “outside the box.”

Among one of my biggest discoveries during my time in school was the realization that I was a diehard feminist supporter. I didn’t openly support women’s causes because I was secretly trying to curry favor or get any of my attractive female classmates to like me. I was speaking out about my beliefs which were the result of being raised by a single (divorced) mom and growing up with four sisters (and 3 brothers).

I didn’t even know what feminism was at the time when one of my professors labeled me a true feminist, I was initially offended, not fully knowing his intention. As I continued to learn and grow, I eventually took it as a compliment since it was only a reflection of my genuine beliefs.

Now I stand nearly 14 years removed from that 30 something-year-old freshmen in college, and I reflect on a society that is as ever fickle, not only on its views of women but how women themselves allow the world to see them and what they allow to empower and define them.

My tone and my effort in this is not to harm or ridicule women as much as it is to shed light on the reasons why we as a society are still having difficulty on the issue of gender equality and women truly being valued in our society.

I must start by pointing out the irony of how many men who grow up with certain slanted views or distorted misconceptions about women or how to treat them, were themselves raised by women and may have sisters they even claim to love.

I wrote a poem entitled our Mothers, Wives, Sister and Daughters trying to explain my disdain for how society treats women and how that can be rectified if only we learn to stop objectifying women and understand this is someone’s wife, daughter or mother.

When I read an article about female CEO’s in the computer industry speaking out about what it is like competing in the “Gentleman’s Club” I instantly support them. Yet, when I see that they decide to stand up against sexism in their field by posing in their underwear and semi-nude, I’m frustrated and angered!

When women decide to crusade against sexism by baring their body it gives short-sighted, opinionated men the very ammunition they need to suggest “that this is all a woman is good for!” Not only that but it inadvertently tells little girls who are watching that this is their true ticket to success in this man’s world.

Listen, ladies, for any and everyone who is following the “Kim Kardashian” model to success these days you have to understand the reality of your decision. For every few women who can parlay their sex tape or nude selfies into a successful legitimate career, we have a much larger list of wannabe starlets who in the end, only end up getting Fucked, both literally and figuratively. My statement is crude, but true.

The way society views women and influences little girls concerns me because I am a father who is helping to raise a daughter. When my daughter was about 5 years old, she gave me her list of things she was gonna be when she grew up. She listed a magician, a tap dancer, ballet dancer, chef and a martial artist (this was her short list).

As my daughter was growing up, I noticed a change in society; this was about the time when many Disney and Nickelodeon starlets began trying to shed their childhood personas and characters, despite the fact that many of them were still teens approaching adulthood.

I noticed what looked like simple teenage rebellion acting out slowly. Then it began to morph into “empowerment” and thus, Miley Cyrus’s “twerking” and affinity for taking off her clothes became standard. Demi Lovato, a young starlet with a history of self-harm and drug/alcohol abuse, decided to promote her new album with a nude photoshoot in the wake of her grandfather’s death; the album was entitled Confident.

I can speak on these issues not only as a father but a professional who deals with a large number of children and adults with mild to severe behavioral issues. These behaviors shouldn’t be celebrated let alone given an inspirational spin as “empowerment!” Are we suggesting that any young women diagnosed with bipolar disorder or that has body image issues can simply conquer their fear by posing nude?

Why is it that the common denominator for women always revolves around their willingness to take off their clothes for the masses?

Consider the pioneering women who crusaded for the very right for women to have the right to vote, participate and compete among the men. How do we think they would feel if after all of their sacrifice and hard work we’ve managed to marginalize a woman’s worth back to her ability to show her tits and ass?

If Serena William currently has the distinction of being only a few grand slam titles away from having the most overall and already has more titles than any male player, past or present, why should she be defined by her body and willingness to share it?

Danica Patrick is a race car driver, thus, she is considered a legitimate athlete, why should she be photographed in a bikini for GoDaddy Maxim or any other magazine?

Year’s ago I had an acquaintance once ask if my daughter had “body image” issues because she noticed that my daughter never showed off her curves or revealed too much of her arms, cleavage, etc… I calmly explained to her “she’s nine friggin year’s old!!!!!”

Why in the blue hell are we printing bold words on the bottoms of little girls clothing and marketing short shorts to girls who aren’t even old enough to read and write properly? Are we inadvertently marginalizing our little girls to conform to societies standards where female are concerned?

In 2014 Emma Watson, that’s Hermione Granger to the Potter fanatics, was appointed UN Women Goodwill Ambassador and began to make passionate speeches about equality and her views on feminism and the Hollywood industry. Watson went on to do her first nude scene shortly after this which left me wondering why was this even necessary? I applaud any actress that can gain recognition, fame and continued success without having to take off their clothes. That’s a model for real empowerment.

Perhaps we all have different views as to what feminism truly means and what it looks like. I look for inspiration on this issue from women who are truly making a real difference not just making speeches. Watson was quoted as saying that she received threats after her famous speech on feminism, and this made the press thrust her further into the spotlight on the issue of empowering women’s causes.

I read an article that said, “Emma Watson teaches Malala Yousafzai to embrace feminism.” I had already heard about Malala’s story, and I was outraged that the press was trying to suggest that a Hollywood actress was educating Malala, who had already won several National Awards for peace not to mention the Noble peace prize about championing women causes.

Malala, at the age of 14, was shot in the head by Taliban gunmen for her work as an activist calling for the education of girls and women in her country of Pakistan. Her cause wasn’t some contrived campaign to “free the nipple” or some drivel about privacy in the midst of leaked nude photos. Malala stood up to terrorists, was threatened, and was shot in the head as a result! Not only did she survive, but she continued to campaign for her cause. That’s real empowerment for your ass!!!

What can Watson’s convoluted jargon on feminism teach this woman who’s endured much more than Watson, you or I can ever understand about what life is like to be a woman in her country? The best that Western society can teach her is to compromise her religious beliefs, take off her burqa and show some cleavage, now you’re empowered!

I don’t want a media spin on female empowerment for my daughter’s generation of young women. I want an earn-your- education, apply-yourself approach to getting ahead, while not compromising your beliefs or values in the process to make it.

I recall one day when I was still in school, my wife’s schedule and mine overlapped and I had to take my kids to class with me. I gave them my laptop and I sat there taking notes on paper. I can’t tell you how many of my classmates, both female and male, came over to explain how proud they were of me. They explained the fact of what a valuable lesson I was teaching my kids about not making excuses.

A few months ago my daughter and I had just left her latest karate tournament; she had gotten first place in weapons kata, open hand kata, and fighting! I was so nervous as I watched her compete, it was as if I was the one competing. I took her out for a much-deserved treat of her choice, which meant Chik-fil-A and later a triple-dip ice cream cone.

As we were about to go in, I sat in the car trying to tell her how proud I was of her fulfilling more than a few of her goals as she is a 16-year-old budding chef and one of the youngest Black belts in her school. I explained that I only hoped that she could one day be proud of the struggle her mom, and I went through having to sacrifice so much of their time with both work and school.

My daughter said immediately without a moment of hesitation “I’ve always been proud of you dad.” At that moment, I used my “Pursuit of Happiness” speech to remind my daughter to let no one, male or female, dictate to her what she could or couldn’t accomplish in life. While my oldest child, my son, shares my name, my daughter inexplicably and perhaps, unfortunately, shares a lot more of my feisty personality. God help the young man that seeks her heart.

I encourage young men to value young women as being much more than the sum of their bodies and to bolster these young women for their mind and other gifts. When women truly learn to value themselves as the God-given gift that they are to this world perhaps, more women will learn to be empowered solely off of the uncompromising example of those pioneering women of the past.

As a father, I learned everything I know today, about being a parent and loving my wife and children, by witnessing my mother work long hours on her own while raising 8 children. All the female empowerment my daughter needs is to hear about her granny or her Abuela, those examples will carry her far in life, now that’s empowerment!

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