January 06, 2020

Young women, speak up!

By Daisha “Daise”

Are men better than women? There are some who think so, but why? Just because they’re strong, are able to get good jobs, and are usually the main income earner in their families? I could go on and on. But that's not the point.

I believe that women are underestimated and taken for granted. Women can be just as strong as men; just look at strength athlete Kristin Rhodes, who won the Strongest Woman on Earth title in 2012. She is physically stronger than many men.

And believe it or not, women can get good jobs too. For the first time in history, voters chose between two women for Salt Lake City Mayor this year. There are also a lot of women and mothers out there working to support themselves and their families.

Women can also be powerful speakers – no matter how young or old. Take for example, Emma Gonzalez, a highschool senior and survivor of the February 2012 mass school shooting in Parkland, Florida. She is a brave young woman who has spoken up for more effective gun laws in March for Our Lives rallies nation-wide.

American actress and model Yara Shahidi, and Pakastani activist Malala Yousafzai both courageously advocate for better education and equality for women.

And the latest young woman to speak out on the global scene is 16-year-old climate activist Greta Thunberg, who wants to see a better response from world leaders to the threats of climate change.

Do you see a pattern with all these young women? They all did the right thing; they stood up for what they believe in and what is important to them.

In my 11th grade history class we did a poster on women's rights and a quote was used that I really liked, “Women deserve to be heard, not just seen.” That really stood out to me.

In the world today we have seen examples of female activists being criticized by other people. Some of the comments are very sexist. Sometimes, when young females try to speak up for what they believe is right, they are not taken seriously or get shut down.

Recently, Thunberg spoke up at the 2019 United Nations Climate Action Summit. She called out world leaders for not taking action to prevent climate change disasters, saying,”How dare you…” While she inspired many people worldwide, she was also criticized, told to “go back to school” or that she was “too young to be speaking.”

After Time Magazine named Thunberg “Person of the Year” in December, our own President Trump tweeted, ”Greta must work on her Anger Management problem, then go to a good old fashioned movie with a friend! Chill Greta, Chill!" Other critics made fun of her because she has autism (Asperger's), but let me tell you something: Autism doesn't define who you are. My own brother has it and some people say, ”What is this? Why can’t you speak? Are you even human?” I see this all around me happening to others who have mental disabilities; they are not taken seriously, or worse, they’re made fun of.

I have noticed that sexism is not only directed towards activists; it's in our own daily lives as well – like high school sports.

For example, when a member of my high school’s girls’ soccer team accidently slipped a swear word during a game,  she got banned from playing in the next game. But no one really cares when a football player swears; they say, “Boys will be boys, not a big deal.”

This kind of treatment is not fair. I believe the whole American freedom of speech thing should apply equally to everyone – males and females!

In my own life, I have experienced sexist comments at school. I got push-back in my welding class, when some boys asked me questions like, “Why do you even weld? You’re not even really good at it. Isn't that more of a guy thing?” No, it's not. Yes I'm a female, but why does it matter? We can learn and weld just like men.

I have also received rude comments about my other hobby – skateboarding. I bring my skateboard to school and the boys have asked, “Do you even skate? You’re not even good because you don't know how to do any tricks.”

When I kept getting those comments, I wanted to give up on my own likes. But I learned that I don't need to care what other people say; if i like it, then i like it and should never give up.

In conclusion, I would like to say that no matter what others think, don't let them tear you down. Stand up for your rights and what you believe in. It only takes one person to help change the world. And that one person could be you.

Daise is a 16-year-old student at East High School and a participant of West View Teen Newsroom – a partnership between Glendale Library, West View Media and University Neighborhood Partners. Her last name has been omitted to protect her privacy.