The "why" in empowerment
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?