Opinion: I am a feminist out of gratitude


Bobbie Szabo

Bobbie Szabo

“I am a feminist out of gratitude,” Connie Schultz, a faculty member with the School of Journalism and Mass Communication, explained during the Kent State Women’s Center’s  Mothers, Mentors, and Muses scholarship and award reception.

Schultz said she is a feminist because of the sacrifices made by women in the past for the right to vote, for reproductive rights and for human rights. She said she recalls stories of women who were tortured for speaking out against injustices, feels the weight of their burdens and knows she must uphold their legacy.

I am also a feminist out of gratitude, although I had not known I was until I heard Schultz — who is an inspiration of mine — speak.

I am grateful I live in a world in which I have multiple platforms for self-expression, both artistically and politically. I am grateful women of the past laid the necessary groundwork for the modern feminist movement and that my activism has been made more effective and powerful as a result.

I am grateful for queer activists and activists of color who have opened up the doors for the most marginalized people to participate in community organizing and politics on a national and international level.

I am also thankful for those currently organizing with me, those who still must break down oppressive barriers in order to obtain fundamental human rights and those who experience privilege, yet fight for those who do not.

So often we forget the people who have paved the way for us.

I forget my mother has spent 15 years as a single mom, raising two children and working both a full-time and part-time job.

I forget my father moved to the United States from Germany to create a better life for himself and his descendants.

I forget women, like Schultz, had to beg and fight for years to become successful in professions in which women were not even allowed to participate.

I forget my predecessors in the fight for human rights were beaten, jailed and murdered.

No more forgetting.

Of course, people are still facing unending hardship. People are still beaten, jailed and murdered. Marginalized people still do not have the entire spectrum of basic human rights, but the world has come a long way in the past century.

We cannot allow the past struggle to be forgotten simply because our world has improved. We cannot forget it because of the ways in which our world has not improved, either. We must recognize the accomplishments and shortcomings of the past in order to continue forward with our own work.

Previous generations have empowered my generation to speak up against injustice in all its forms.

We have studied their trials and errors in community organizing. We have embraced the rights and opportunities they have granted us. We picked up the movements and begun our service.

We are ready to fight. We will not be complacent. And we will not forget, although it is easy to do so.

We will remember the sacrifices of the people who came before us, and we will not allow those sacrifices to be in vain.

Bobbie Szabo is a columnist, contact her at [email protected].