WAP = Women Are Powerful

Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez gives a speech at the 2019 Women's March in New York about civil rights, justice and why being polite is not the same as being quiet.

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Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez gives a speech at the 2019 Women’s March in New York about civil rights, justice and why being polite is not the same as being quiet.

You are scrolling through TikTok and see #aocforpresident2024. Curious, you research and find a new form of female empowerment.

In a male-dominated world, it is important to have female representation and power so the younger generations can learn that we are equal. 

“I think it is really important to have that representation that is equal to what men have. It’s super important in our society and for future generations to realize that females are capable of doing anything.” ”

— Cecy Rivera

“I believe some people are afraid that if women (or blacks or other marginalized people) become powerful they will exercise power in the same ways white men historically have: in a way that deliberately excludes the former oppressor,” said Dr. Kaifa Roland, chair of Women and Gender Studies of the University of Colorado.

The word feminism has gained a negative connotation. Some people seem to believe that feminists think they are “better than men” or that they “hate men.” Just mentioning the word online can generate a bunch of angry responses. 

“A lot of people think feminism is ‘girls are superior to guys’ but no– feminism is equality for everyone regardless of gender, sexual orientation or race,” said junior Arlene Rufino. 

Some felt the need to disassociate with that word and find something more empowering.

Dr. Roland said, “I identify as a womanist. I needed a version of women’s empowerment that felt more authentic to me and my foremother’s experiences. To me, womanism celebrates womanhood unapologetically and unconditionally, whereas I sometimes feel like feminism is comparing femaleness to maleness.”

According to the United Nations Foundations, 5 million women in India formed a 385-mile-long human protest in January 2019, ensuring the year started with demands for gender equality at the forefront. The year continued with global demands for equal pay, reproductive rights, representation in government, and much more.

While we saw some progress in 2019, it’s clear we need more than 5 million people to demand equality and be even louder than before. Every day we are reminded of just how pervasive gender inequality is – and how much more we need to do.

“It’s true when they say that women can do whatever a man can but only if they put in the work,” said Century High School junior Jenny Contreras. “So when women are putting in the work in their field and getting paid less than a man does when they work in the exact same field it’s just not fair. That’s why people feel the need to call them out on it because it needs to be rectified.” 

According to the American Civil Liberties Union, women still only make 78 cents for every dollar earned by a man. Black women only earn 64 cents and Latinas a mere 54 cents for each dollar earned by white men. 

Clearly, we still have a lot of fighting to do. 

“Our voice is important, so when we use it to voice that women should be treated equally and respected equally it is not to be taken in an aggressive way. It is to be taken in the way that we want to change,” said Contreras.

Not so long ago, women had to fight for the right to vote and were largely excluded from political leadership globally. Today we are seeing a rise of women in positions of power which is amazing because we get our voices heard and role models to inspire us.

One great example of this is Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, one of the first female members of the Democratic Socialists of America elected to serve in Congress.

“I think AOC is a very powerful woman; she is honestly one of my role models. She is powerful in her own way,” said Rufino.

“She is a powerful woman that vouches for equal rights and a functioning modern society. She sets an amazing example for many people like myself and puts a true meaning to feminism,” said Rivera.

“AOC has done much more to bring more representation and respect for women, so I think she is definitely inspiring women to be true to themselves,” said junior Yarethsi Leal.

But because of the rise of females in power, there has also been a rise in excuses on why they shouldn’t. The most popular is that women are “too emotional” to be in positions of power.

“I do not believe it to be true that women are too emotional to be in power, but I also don’t believe emotion has to be interpreted negatively. What if passion and empathy were interpreted to be positive mobilizing qualities rather than detriments attached to a particular gender? I say we should all use what we’ve got to be our best selves rather than squashing some aspect of our personality/identity to fit someone else’s preconceived notion of who we should be,” said Dr. Roland.

If we can’t look up and see women who have been successful, we are less likely to be successful ourselves. The presence of women in leadership positions and the opportunity to network with them is vital to help motivate other women to step up and find their true potential.

“It’s important for little girls to see they can truly accomplish anything. They are not any less than their male counterparts,” said Rivera.