By: Rosie LoVoi
When I was little, I was what you’d call a “push-over.” My friends were the kind of girls who had no problem making me take the less desirable costume in dress-up, and I was teased on the 5th grade basketball team because one time I apologized for stealing the ball. I just played along, because that’s what I thought it meant to be nice. Usually, I didn’t mind; I have an older sister, and I was used to being second string. But eventually, it got to me. I began to feel frustrated by my inability to stand up for myself, but at the same time, pushing back felt like I was pretending to be someone I wasn’t. There seemed to be only two options: I could push back, which meant sometimes being perceived as mean even if I was only defending myself, or I could be walked all over. As I grew up, I had to find the in between.
In addition to an older sister, I also have an older and younger brother. And let me tell you, a four-kid family is hectic – we talk over each other, fight for the front seat of the car (even though everyone knows it goes to the oldest), tease each other and play games constantly. In a four-kid family, it’s quite simply impossible to be passive. What I had to learn was the difference between quiet niceness and passivity. There’s a balance to be struck between being polite and nice in your dealings with other people, and letting others always have their way over what you would prefer.
When I was in middle school, I got involved in student council, and it stayed a huge part of my life through high school. Here are a few things student council taught me to do: make decisions that were sometimes unpopular, tell people about those decisions, challenge authority, work with people who saw things differently. Most importantly, I began to see the value in my own opinion, and, while I tried to maintain the niceness I had been so concerned with as a kid, I stopped being afraid of pissing people off. I’m not loud about it and I don’t like to draw too much attention. But when it matters, I know that it matters and in the most respectful way possible I refuse to let it go.
Since I learned what the word meant, I’ve called myself a feminist. But this is a title that necessitates a lot of defense and explanation, because people often don’t understand what it means so they jump to conclusions about you. As someone who feels much more comfortable making sure others are comfortable, this is a difficult spot to be in for two reasons: one, because I don’t like the confrontation of having to explain myself, and two, because some people have the idea that to be a feminist you have to be loud and outspoken, some qualities that I’m definitely not. I admire when other girls are unafraid of the challenges posed by those against feminism or who don’t understand, but I can’t help getting intimidated by the prospect of explaining my beliefs.
I’ve never questioned how I feel when it comes to feminism, but I have questioned how I’m supposed to talk about it. Like I explained earlier, joining student council in grade school taught me how to use my voice for change, and I learned that you don’t always have to yell loudly to make the change go your way. Impact through quiet negotiation became my style. I’d always rather have a one-on-one conversation to shift someone’s opinion. Over the years, I’ve learned that loud and proud is just as legitimate and good as quiet and proud, as long as you really are proud. The whole thing with belief is that it should come from yourself - not parents or friends or teachers - and you should be able to say why you believe what you do. Why does it matter? If you can’t answer that, you should rethink it. But if you can, then shout it to the crowd or whisper it into your neighbor’s ear – just don’t be afraid to let people know.
Here’s something big: it’s okay to want your way, and you should ask for it. But here’s something else: if it feels more right to you to not demand your way, you absolutely don’t have to – as long as it doesn’t come at the expense of your own well-being. I’ve learned that I like compromise. I tend to feel uncomfortable if I force what I want; “my way or the highway” has never sat well for me, no matter whose way it is. If it’s a simple decision, I’ll work to find a way to make both myself and the other party happy with the outcome. But when it’s something that matters, like feminism – something that would really affect your happiness or peace of mind – I’ve learned that you shouldn’t and can’t let that go, and – newsflash – that doesn’t make you rude or bossy. It makes you a sometimes quiet but seriously determined feminist.
Author, Rosie LoVoi
Rosie is a member of the Gold Hand Journalism Team
Hi!! My name is Rosemary - Rosie for short - and I’m one of Gold Hand Girls’ new bloggers! I grew up in Tulsa, Oklahoma, but moved to Indiana to study at the University of Notre Dame. Of all the things in the world, I love reading the most, but after that probably comes anything sweet (see picture for proof). I’m beyond excited to be writing for Gold Hand Girls. Spreading support for creative girls is so important to me, and I’m thrilled to be part of that mission. Stay tuned for posts on cool girl bands, books, and more!
Graphics, Kat Harris
Kat is a part of the Gold Hand Graphics Team
Hey! My name is Kat Harris, and I'm from Dallas, TX. I go to the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville, and I am a Graphic Design and Advertising/Public Relations double major. I love music and have a serious habit of making playlists (so check out my Spotify --Kathryn Harris). Some of my favorite bands are Rainbow Kitten Surprise, Local Natives, and The Temper Trap. I’m interested in photography, design, and really anything art-related. I love to find inspiration in everything I do and strive to be constantly creating and expressing myself!
You can follow Kat on Instagram @groovy.kat