It’s Time We Speak Up

I’m not one to talk about politics, ever. Sure, I can join the band wagon around my family and friends, but I am normally neutral. I guess spending three years being “politically correct” and “silent” about my views outside of the pageant interviews had a little bit of an affect.

But something peaked my interest these last few days. It kept popping up in various forms, nagging at me to use my voice to shed a light on a few things worth mentioning.

It first began with Barbara Bush’s Commencement speech.

Then, it hit me like a nail on the head during a date with my boyfriend.

And finally, it popped up on my newsfeed.

No, this is not a plea for feminism nor will this shove any kind of political agenda down your throat. This blog is meant to share a few experiences I’ve had as a white female and my takeaways. Please read with a grain of salt.

Let’s begin with the former First Lady.

First and foremost, my friends like to tease me with the hashtag #StillNotAFeministTho, and it’s quite comical and very true. Anytime I say something classified as “female empowerment” or #GirlBoss in our group chat, they instantly respond back with that hashtag. To be honest, it’s a fair judgment. As someone who does not weigh in on a topic she is not well-educated on, I truly cannot sit here today and tell you whether I’m a feminist or not. Personally, I prefer to be a “mermaid” and stand right in the middle, mediating the conversation while also motivating my lady friends to DREAM BIG. Just as every brave and driven woman in my family has done for me.

In the Wellesley College Commencement speech, Mrs. Bush mentions a quote talking about where “mermaids” – those who are different and do not fit the boxes – stand.

“Diversity, like anything worth having, requires effort — effort to learn about and respect difference, to be compassionate with one another, to cherish our own identity, and to accept unconditionally the same in others.”

Beautifully said. To understand others, you have to put yourself in their shoes, and to respond appropriately, you have to be compassionate.

If you are a fellow mermaid that doesn’t fit into any specific box, that pushes boundaries and strives to redefine societal standards, be proud of your way of thinking. This world needs more creatives, innovators, #GirlBosses and good, empathetic listeners.

On the flip side, if you are a woman who dreams of a family and being an incredible wife & mom first things first, be proud, too! No one said you can’t be both a radical and an awesome mom. The world is your oyster, and I hope to one day be as courageous as you.

As I sat in class post-speech, hearing almost every young woman in the room criticize Mrs. Bush for “only talking about her husband” and “being a wife,” I grew impatient. If those same individuals did their research, they’d know that her family refers to her as the “COO,” or “Chief Operating Officer.” That’s right, not a “CEO,” who oftentimes ends up being the spokesperson and the face of the company while the COO runs the ship. They’d also know and take into account that the First Lady has a very important role, and she is rarely publicized. Nonetheless, she carries on and makes a difference in her community.

I grew impatient because I couldn’t believe my fellow female peers were criticizing another woman for her choices. I might be wrong, but that sounds like the complete opposite of what feminism stands for. As someone who is unbelievably driven and headstrong, I can’t wait to have a spectacular career and make enough money to provide a beautiful life for my immigrant parents. However, I also can’t imagine my life and some of the opportunities I’ve been given without my greatest friend, biggest ally and most loving boyfriend. I can’t wait to be his wife and mommy to our children, while running our startups and overseeing our empire. To me, THAT is the best of both worlds.

Since when do we criticize women for wanting to be stay-at-home moms? I’d say it’s a dream to be able to work from home / on your own wild ideas and raise a family the proper way without worrying how to pay the bills, not having a flexible schedule to take your kids everywhere & be present in their lives, and not having time for yourself. These are things I’ve witnessed firsthand with my immigrant parents, and I turned out just fine 🙂 But don’t get me wrong, I am all for women being #bossladies and hustling away!

Isn’t a relationship about unconditional support? Isn’t marriage a partnership? I’m pretty sure no president can get to the supreme position without his wife guiding him, listening to him, loving him through his tantrums and holding his hand through every bump.

“Behind every great man is no woman. There is no greater man than the man that acknowledges the woman standing right next to him.”

On to date night.

It was a fun evening consisting of me taking Vince to one of my favorite, old-school movie theaters where they only show foreign and independent films. However, as I saw him squirm in his seat during “Battle of The Sexes,” I felt myself grow even more impatient. How dare he not enjoy a 20-dollar movie I just brought him to?!

Kidding, but really. I guess my initial reaction stemmed from the movie coming across as super one-sided and Vince feeling like the actual historic event wasn’t portrayed as well as it could have been. Instantly, I told myself in that moment, I was going to be a feminist and never again take him to a movie he didn’t first approve.

But after I asked him about his thoughts, it made sense. Hollywood has done it again. They have taken a powerful story and made it more about celebrating the love affair. To be clear — celebrate marriage infidelity. In THAT moment, I told myself he had a good point, that I’m still not a feminist (because I was going along with the emotional high versus seeing things for what they are) and that big picture, I thank Billie Jean King for the service she did for women. Thanks to her contribution to the feminist movement, I am able to play sports, have equal pay and opportunity, and step foot into any (previously proclaimed) male space.

We ended up eating our feelings away with gyros after that.

The #MeToo campaign.

WOW. The amount of brave women publicly sharing their stories is astounding. I had goosebumps reading some of your stories, and felt compelled to give praise to those strong enough to give a voice to the voiceless.

Biologically, women will always be weaker than men. We may not be able to physically fight back, but we can use our words. I think almost every woman reading this can identify a moment in a past (or current) relationship where you felt abused by your partner. I say power to you for doing two things:

  1. Leaving him
  2. Admitting to yourself that you deserve respect and kindness. Snaps for self-love.

There are subliminal messages all around us, telling us how to think, react and behave. Men are taught to be “superheroes” – powerful, muscular, strong, single-minded. If they steer off of that path, other men instantly pounce to ridicule them for their sensitivity, telling them it’s not okay to be emotional nor wimpy.

Men are also taught to be the alpha. They must be the breadwinners, the decision makers, the leaders. If they are not, what does society tell them again? That they are weak and powerless.

What WE, as a whole, can do is stand together. Stand up for women AND men. Stand for equality. Respect one another and each other’s decisions, opinions and perspectives. Listen now more than ever. Educate yourself on both sides. Spread love, not hate.

It’s okay to not know where you stand.

As my mother always says, “you can’t look into someone’s soul, so you can’t ever really know what that person is going through. So always be kind and listen.”

Take a moment today to talk to people opposite of your views. Go out of your comfort zone and do something society tells you you can’t do. Tell the men in your life that being compassionate and empathetic is far better than being stern and stoic. Be bold and empower others of all diverse backgrounds. Teach your children acceptance. Love unconditionally and celebrate life. Be a mermaid.

But most importantly, celebrate who you are.

XO,

Karolina

P.S. I don’t mean to offend anyone, and would love to hear all of the varying sides on this topic 🙂

 

2 thoughts on “It’s Time We Speak Up

Add yours

  1. This is a great post Karolina and brave of you to write. Being in pageants myself I completely understand where you’re coming from. Just a few days ago I had a “conversation” with my grandpa about men and women (he brought it up). That convo ended very quickly thanks to me, lol I couldn’t continue. We totally have more in common then I thought we have to get coffee one day soon. 🙂

    P.S. love you’re blog and keep up the amazing work!!💙

    Liked by 1 person

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