By Rachel Williams
Distinguished Young Woman of New Mexico for 2011
The United States has come a long way since women were first given the right to vote in 1920, but it has been a long road. Even today women on average are paid less than men and a smaller number of women are employed.
Recently, I have been noticing a lot of jokes coming out about women; most of them are centered on us “knowing our place” and “staying in the kitchen.” People are beginning to feel like it’s OK to talk down to women, treat us like we’re inferior, and demand things of us again. And some women are letting them!
Guess what? It’s not okay! Susan B. Anthony did not fight for our rights just so a century later we would fall back into apathy.
My friends and I were bored the other night so we decided to watch The Iron Lady at the dollar theater. It was the best dollar I have spent in a very long time. I cannot tell you how inspirational that movie was. I highly recommend you rent it and watch it with all your best gal pals. It followed Margaret Thatcher’s political career from the beginning all the way until she was the first woman Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. She was not taken seriously until she made incredibly pivotal decisions for the country. She brought the UK into prosperity. My favorite quote (that actually brought me to tears!) was this:
“I will never be one of those women, who stay silent and pretty on the arm of her husband. Or remote and alone in the kitchen doing the washing up for that matter. One’s life must matter, Denis, beyond all the cooking and the cleaning and the children. One’s life must mean more than that. I cannot die washing up a teacup.”
Margaret Thatcher, later nicknamed the Iron Lady, exceeded all expectations that the country had of her. She was determined and genuinely had her people’s best interests at heart.
The movie made me remember that all of these jokes, that I sometimes think are funny, are just fuel to a fire that women before us fought so vigorously to extinguish.
Ladies, do not allow anyone to make you feel inferior. We must remember that we are just as able and capable as any man to do anything we want.
On a side note, another thing that has become quite popular: do not immerse yourself in Hollywood portrayals of women that act weak and incompetent. Turn away from the character of Isabella Swan in Twilight, and embrace Katniss Everdeen in Hunger Games or Hermione Granger in Harry Potter. Although all three are wonderful stories; consider which woman you would rather aspire to be.
Aspire to be great. Leave behind a legacy that women of the future will admire. Assume the position of leader, doctor, engineer, or even President of the United States. As Margaret Thatcher said, your life must matter.