Kirsten Gillibrand. Debbie Dingell. Nikki Haley. Michelle Obama. Kamala Harris. Hillary Clinton.
These are just a few of the amazing female politicians who have forever shaped my life and helped me discover feminism. I’ve always loved politics–it has enthralled me since I was very young. When I was 17 years old, we started talking about feminism in our AP English class. I had never really deeply thought about how I would be treated differently as a woman, and I started thinking. My mind drifted to politics, this thing I had always loved, and I wondered why there really weren’t that many people like me represented.
I started to ask a lot of questions. Some of the smartest people I knew were women, so why were there so few in my government? Why did the news always talk about female politicians’ outfits, but not necessarily their policies? Why did it matter how Secretary Clinton was wearing her hair? Why is it that female representatives constantly getting talked over? Why do mothers get asked if elected office takes away time from their children, but the fathers don’t?
Disheartened by the answers to these questions, I looked to these female politicians for hope. I followed almost every one of the on Facebook, I bought and read most of the books they wrote, I watched their speeches, and I started having real discussions about women representatives. I listened to their advice, and I thought about what their lives might be like. These women showed me how to stand up against sexism, and how to wield my own privilege to try and help others. They took on topics of discrimination and put out heartfelt and data-driven arguments to try to help people just like us. They stood up when men tried to tell them what to do with their own bodies. They called out sexist comments and policies and didn’t stand down. They demanded a seat at the table, and accepted nothing less. They were my warriors, going off every single day to fight, for not just white women like me, but minorities, LGBTQ+ people, immigrants, and many other marginalized communities. I realized, if they can help make a difference, then I can too.
I spoke up when I was scared, I donated to great causes, and I joined the team behind an amazing magazine, What the F. I stopped caring so much about what people would think of me for being a feminist, and when I was intimidated or worn down, I channeled my inner female politician.
When I read Off the Sidelines by Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, her words changed me. Not only is she one of my favorite female politicians, and someone I deeply admire, she gave me the strength to admit something that I had been afraid to say for a very long time:
I will one day run for political office.
I had always felt afraid that saying something like this would be looked at as cocky, or a childish dream. I want to run in Michigan, not only because I love this State, but to fight some of the gender and racial disparities still lurking in our local society. Senator Gillibrand, and all of the other amazing women representatives in the US empowered me to get involved, to speak up, and to share my dream. These women helped me define feminism. Representation in our government is so important. We need diverse leaders who represent all of the amazing viewpoints from voters in the United States. Women leaders push to give everyone a seat at the table, regardless of gender, race, sexual orientation, or any other disadvantaged group status. These women push for intersectionality, and that’s another reason why I really love them. They showed me that no matter what some people may say, I do have a place in running our government. We all do.
Social Media Manager, What the F Magazine