Phenomenal Women, That’s Us


Image Source: INSIGHT Into Diversity

Analise Bruno, Editor-in-Chief

March is recognized as International Women’s History Month to celebrate all the phenomenal girls and women who have shaped the world as we know it. Many people may not understand why an entire month is dedicated to something like this, and for those wondering, I invite you to consider how history has treated women, and how we in return have responded. The Viking Times will be covering many different influential women from all over the world, and even locally in Winthrop this month to give you greater insight into what this month is all about, but now I give you a preface to the very “phenomenal” history of the woman

Maya Angelou once wrote a poem called “Phenomenal Woman.” The first time I read it was when I was in the eighth grade, and at the time I sort of glossed over it. I think it takes time to comprehend its true significance, and certainly some personal experience. And whether or not you can relate to it, I find that there’s a discrete power in at least being able to understand it. 

We are all born from a woman, and we all get our name from a woman. They are our lifeblood, the pillars whom without we would not stand. Yet, our history would reflect something different. A look back on global history would reveal the many availing years fighting for suffrage, equality, and equity. Even as we have made advancements in our society with acts like the 19th Amendment, we still fall short. After all this time, with the bar still on the floor for standards, there are still parts of our society that actively punish, shame, belittle, and low ball women. There is a lot of naivety towards it, especially in those who are uneducated, or those who are not old enough to understand- but whether it be in the form of a growing wage gap, unattainable beauty standards, or even having our ideas discredited- much like the famous Rosalie Rayner- there is much to discuss on this topic. 

I’ve grown up around the most fabulous women my whole life. From my mom and my grandma to the women, you read about in the headlines. It often comes across my mind that the first time I ever even had a teacher who wasn’t a woman was until the 5th grade. These are the women who come to mind when I think of that poem now. 

To me, they have, and always will embody what it means to take on the multifaceted complex that is being a woman. There is an undistinguished pride in being able to be compassionate and vulnerable without feeling weak, but also being able to stand up in the face of all adversity. And yet, even with the gender-based discrimination, the attempts to control us, and the outdated norms- not once have these women failed to show me the ability to overcome. These are the strings that bind, the solidarity we share for a collective harsh experience with society. They are phenomenal women.

 But I also find my inspiration from the women who both you and I don’t know. The woman riding the train station alone cradling her toddler, the one typing away doing her best to earn a degree. The woman who sits in night school looking to further her education, the one learning to find her voice in a crowded office to make herself heard. The single mothers fighting to make ends meet for their kids, the one pursuing a male-dominated career field. All the women who get up each and every day who continue to power through societal pressures and fears continue to inspire the observant young girls around them, even if in the most subtle and indirect ways. They are phenomenal women. 

 I can not leave out, of course, that the reality is especially different for black, Hispanic, and other minority women who also face racial discrimination on top of just sexism. When we talk about women’s suffrage, we tend to neglect that the 19th Amendment only applied to white women at first. It would take multiple decades following it to secure voting rights for minority women- and this didn’t apply to just voting. These women are also fearless and especially phenomenal. 

 Gender is a huge part of people’s identity- even if they do not label themselves specifically male or female. With that being said, it should never confine them to societal boundaries and roles that say what a should be. In my opinion, the best part about being a woman is that we are all uniquely made, no matter how we choose to live or portray ourselves- inside or outside the arbitrary gender norms. The women in my life- family, friends, teachers, have helped make me the phenomenal woman I know myself to be. There is about a four-year gap in the time I have first read the poem until now, and I think the most important thing I have come to understand about it is that in a world that is often so resistant to change, the best rebuttal is finding the empowerment to remain confident in yourself and push forward to achieve despite what the masses of society may have to say.

 Phenomenal women, 

That’s us.