I grew up as a huge tomboy, not because I had any desire to be a boy (I had to be quiet adamant to people who saw my short hair and baggy clothes that I was, in fact, a girl) but because, at a young age, I rejected femininity like a disease. I hated the color pink. My hair was cropped shorter than your five-year-old son’s. You wouldn’t catch me dead in a dress.
I didn’t have any female heroes to look up to, no Katniss Everdeens or Reys or Paige Mahoneys, so I looked up to the boys instead. Femininity was dainty, and I wanted to be strong. I didn’t care about pretty; I wanted to be someone they made adventure movies about.
Honestly, I just wanted to be jedi, and then my parents went and named my brother Luke, which seems about right.
But on a day a long time ago (in a galaxy far, far away…) that I bear no recollection of, and almost every day since, I realized that I’d been looking for my female heroes in the wrong places. They’ve arrived, since, on the movie screen: Wonder Woman, Katniss, Tris, Rey; they’ve appeared on my shelves as Paige, Hermione, and Elena.
But that’s not where I needed to be looking for them, though. No, my heroes were always hidden in plain sight.
Because there is no greater strength than being female. Woman endure so much but maybe the reason I couldn’t see that at a young age is because they do so, often, in silence.
And they are tired of it.
I have been teetering on the precipice on rage, despair, and triumph ever since the Harvey Weinstein story broke a few weeks ago. Every #MeToo story I read breaks my heart, because for every brave soul who has stepped forward, there are even more that are dealing with their harassment or assault in private, fighting just as hard a battle. For every ugly and necessary detail that has been shared, there are hundreds of people waiting in the wings with their but-but-buts hovering over the keyboard.
And every woman who has ever endured, who has ever spoken up or battled on, has set the precedent for this cascade of truth to come storming out.
Everywhere I look I see a hero. The background of my phone is full of some of my favorites; my twitter feed is an effigy to them. They’re the voices on the other end of my phone, the random women I make awkward eye-contact with at the stoplight. They’re the outspoken actresses who have refused to be silenced on the topics of equality, sexual harassment, body-shaming, or sexism.
Once I realized all my heroes had stuffed their capes at the back of the closets for safe keeping, I found them everywhere. Teachers, coaches, friends, co-workers, bosses, workout instructors, mothers, mentors.
And still, I have never been more proud to be a woman than I have over the course of this past year. It sucks that it has taken the feeling of the world breaking underneath my feet to truly, wholeheartedly appreciate the power of femininity, but this broken dam should be evidence enough for what we’ve been chanting all along.
The future is female.
Thank you to all of the brave humans who have shared your stories over the past few weeks. I hope you know you have been heard, that you are so, so loved, and that you have legions of women behind you, ready to light our own torches off the sparks you have given us.