A Thank You to Courtney Martin

I was just like any college girl. Dazed and confused. Not like the movie, but in regards to life and what I wanted to do. I was a junior in college and had no idea what I wanted to do in life. Just like most women at the ripe age of 20, I had no idea what my purpose was or what I was passionate about. I was trying out yet another major at the end of my sophomore year; one more in the long list of majors attempted. I found out very quickly that Public Relations was not my thing. While I still learned valuable writing skills and learned to write press releases, I did not like the idea of basically lying for companies I did not approve of like the beauty industry for example. I decided I needed to find a new direction.

I searched endlessly, re-reading the list of majors offered and coming up empty handed in what interested me. In attempt to stay sort of on track with all this major changing I did, I decided to take a few online classes over the summer. I took a Philosophy ethics class whose final paper involved writing a research paper on a famous philosopher or thinker. My professor encouraged us to pick women philosophers because most people just solely focused on the great men thinkers.

I chose Elizabeth Cady Stanton. I found she was a pretty astounding and accomplished lady. She was a leader of the women’s rights movement, an abolitionist, and an intelligent woman of her time. I was hooked. After re-reading the list of majors again, a new one stuck out that I must have skimmed over before: Women’s and Gender Studies.

With support from my family, I decided to fill my fall semester with an array of women’s and gender studies classes: from Introduction of Women’s Studies to Psychology of Women to Women in Comics. I could not wait to start the new semester.

The first day started as any. My professor of my Introduction to Women’s Studies class began the discussion, “What is feminism?” Like most students, I immediately had a negative connotation with the word and ironically, I did not even know what the word meant. As we discussed the many definitions of feminism and what it actually meant to us, I was in shock. How had I not known about this before and why were more people not feminists?! It seemed like such a great concept: equality for everyone, right? However, I was still reluctant to accept whether I should call myself the “f word” yet.

I thought about this for a few days. Honestly, I think I was still in shock. Why did no one tell me before? I would have been down for the cause a long time ago if this was more publicized. However, it was not until the second day of my Psychology of Women class that I had my click! moment. My professor came in the room dressed in black combat boots any girl would be jealous of, a pink polka dot skirt, and a black shirt that read “Vagina Warrior” (which I had no idea what it meant at the time). She was unlike any other woman role model I have had in my life, strong, confident, and passionate about diversity and the women’s movement. She showed a video to coincide with our discussion of feminism and what it means.

That was the first time I saw “Reinventing Feminism”, a speech by Courtney Martin. Since then, I am pretty sure I have re-watched it about a dozen times. Courtney spoke to me. I was reluctant to claim the term “feminist” too. I wanted to help but did not know how. I could relate to every word she said and saw myself in part of her story. Click! I was a feminist.

There was no turning back now and I knew that from now on, I had a great responsibility on my shoulders to spread feminism and encourage other young women to resist the patriarchal society we live in today. So far, it has not been easy. For awhile, I struggled to have the education and knowledge to back up my arguments which made talking to other people and calling them out on sexism really hard. However, I thank Courtney for her words. She sprouted that seed of feminism in me that has grown with such passion and fury and has encouraged me to pursue a life in advocating for women’s rights. So thank you Courtney and all the other educators and women in my life along the way who have made me into the feminist that I am today.

Disclaimer: This post was written by a Feministing Community user and does not necessarily reflect the views of any Feministing columnist, editor, or executive director.

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