Moose Lake Star Gazette - Serving Carlton and Pine Counties Since 1895

By Bethany Helwig
Moose Lake Star-Gazette 

Women's History Month and empowering women

From the Editor

 

March 21, 2019



The second I start talking about women empowerment, I know there is a selection of people that will immediately tune out or even turn away from this editorial with disgust. Some of you may think that’s an exaggeration, but the ugly reality is that it’s true.

I’m not here to preach at you. I’m not here to say that my opinion is right and yours is wrong. All I want is to give you a glimpse what has empowered me personally as a woman.

The hard truth is that there are and probably will always be more obstacles for women than men in the world. As a girl growing up, I felt like I had to work harder to prove I was smart or good enough. Inherent prejudices were and are everywhere, turning every aspect of being a woman into something that’s undesirable, such as being too emotional, too talkative, or too weak.

When someone alludes to these in my presence, I get angry—furious even. But then I like to think of the women who rose above the petty classifications bandied about by people of simple minds.

Lyudmila Pavlichenko and her story is something that has stuck with me ever since I heard about her history. Nicknamed “Lady Death,” she was a Soviet soldier who fought alongside the Allies in World War II and was the deadliest female sniper in history. She challenged the stereotype for woman in every way possible. She was a force to be reckoned with, so much so that even her enemies would blare out messages on their loudspeakers trying to bribe her over to their side. I’m not kidding.

She wasn’t afraid to let her opinion be known in face of disparaging reporters. Tired of the questions about wearing makeup, curling her hair, and nail polish, she once said before a large crowd, “I am 25 years old and I have killed 309 fascist occupants by now. Don’t you think, gentlemen, that you have been hiding behind my back for too long?”

What does it take to make someone look past gender to see what she wanted to be known as? “As a citizen, as a fighter, as a soldier for my country.”

Look up her story. Please.

And when you’re done with that, also look up Margaret Hamilton who coded the on-board flight software for Apollo 11 and coined the term “software engineering.” Or read about Eleanor Roosevelt. Or Rosa Parks.

If you’d prefer something more visual, try Hidden Figures or Temple Grandin. And although fictional, give Wonder Woman or Captain Marvel a go. Nothing motivates me more to sprint on the treadmill than watching the no man’s land scene from Wonder Woman.

In the end, I guess what empowers me is knowing there are women that redefine being too emotional as passionate, too talkative as diplomatic action through words instead of arms, and too weak as unrecognized or undervalued strength.

 

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