Thursday, June 25, 2009

Eyes Wide Open: Women Who Give Me Strength

(originally posted 04/09 at wordpress)

by Talia Jae Potter

You all amaze me. Even if you're not on the tree you are part of my strength.
I wrote this for a class final. The photo is the tree I had to create, then write a short summary about what it meant to me. This is as short as I could get.

When I learned that we would be making a kinship tree about important women to us I was ecstatic. I love art, powerful women, and self expression. Once I started making mine though, I was having a hard time narrowing down who would actually be on my tree. There are so many women in history, in my past, and in the present that inspire, motivate and move me. After a bit of research and deep thought I narrowed it down.
At the bottom of my tree is the foundation. It’s the roots of my tree and the soil that feeds it. I see this as a base for who I am today. The women at the foundation of my tree came before me and paved a path for me to follow. Not complete or smooth by any means, but a movement that they fought hard for that I am going to continue. I wanted badly to list hundreds of strong, ground-breaking women from history but to keep my tree from being 100 feet tall I chose three.
The first woman is Lillith. Lillith was believed to be Adam’s first wife before Eve and was cast away when she began to act sexual, independent, and free-thinking. The bible says that her hair was red, “The color of sin” and was cast into the sea where lascivious she-demons lived. I find it fascinating that an independent woman was the first woman portrayed in the bible and then is marked by the devil with red hair, me being a redhead myself. Secondly, I placed Margaret Mead at the foundation because she was a pioneering woman in many fields. She was an anthropologist and scientist and a life long learner. She inspires me to stay educated. Finally, I placed Rosie the Riveter on my tree because she represents the hard working women and mothers who came before me. The women of her time went to work in the factories during the war while their husbands were off fighting. These women opened doors that had never been touched before.
Towards the top of my tree are my friends and I. These are the women I work with at the Women’s Center and we acted in the Vagina Monologues together. All of my women friends are important to me in different ways but these women that I work with are special to me. They are the women warriors I fight side by side with everyday for social change and women’s rights. I feel like we are the new wave of feminism and activists that carry on the strength and determination of the women at the foundation. They are truly my sisters and partners on this amazing journey.
Lastly, and definitely most important, are my two beautiful daughters. These two little girls are the ones I want to leave my legacy with. I want them to witness strong, independent women standing up for their rights-- who don’t take ‘no’ for an answer. I want them to know that when they are women they can do ANYTHING they can dream. The next generation of young women can only grow stronger as we build upon the foundation of yesterday to support the women of tomorrow.

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