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Let’s hear it for the unapologetic women

April 4th, 2010 Posted in Opinion

By Melanie Klein

Deniece Williams sang it loud and sang it proud like she was shouting from the rooftops: “Let’s hear it for the boy, let’s give the boy a hand.” Her enthusiasm spread through my car as the song streamed on the radio. Of course, my love for movies led my mind straight to the scene in the movie “Footloose,” in which one of the characters learns how to finally “cut loose” to Williams’ song.

But, I suddenly wondered, why can’t we ever hear it for the girl?

The Women & Gender Studies Program’s recent “Women Rock the Runway” event held at USU to celebrate Women’s History Month opened my eyes on this question. We live in a world filled with unapologetic women who have and continue to change history.

This year’s theme for Women’s History Month was “writing women back into history.” At the Women Rock event, students (and faculty!) dressed as their most admired unapologetic women in history and pop culture. As they paraded down the runway and shared their heroines’ stories, I couldn’t help but wonder why I hadn’t heard of them before. Their stories and contributions had me wanting to stand up and yell, “You go, girl!

Others made me tear up, and gave me the overwhelming urge to throw my arms around these strong and unapologetic women and tell them thank you.

Thinking back on the endless, and mind-numbingly dull history classes that I sat through in junior high and high school, I started to get angry. Where were these stories then? They certainly make history come alive with the heroic movements that they helped lead and their sacrifices that made the world a better place.

The mass media do show us women who change history. Oprah, Barbara Walters, Sarah Palin—all these bring a face to mind with a flood of information about each woman. But what would you say to a different list of names? What about Maime Till-Mobley? Does anything come to your mind then?

It became all too clear through the Women Rock event that too many of those women are missing from the history books, women who fought hard and stood up for what they believed in. Why are they missing from the very history books that are used to teach students how to be better citizens? How can we learn from history when the juiciest parts of it are missing?

Another great lesson that we can learn from them is that they were unapologetic. They fought for what they believed in, something that seems to have lost significance in today’s society. It has been lost in the political realm, where laws are being shot out left and right like they were a new Disney story.

What does it mean to be unapologetic? It’s not about saying you’re sorry, but it means being strong and standing up for your beliefs without apology or compromise.

I think it’s time that we “hear it for the girl.” This version of the song would be called “The Unapologetic Woman,” a song that could remind us what history’s strong women already discovered—how fighting for what you believe can make a difference in society, and how you can change things so that others might have a chance to achieve their dreams.

So thank you, all of those unapologetic women from the past and the present. Thank you for reminding me that there is always something worth fighting for and how much of a difference can be made by one person. Next time I am driving and that song comes on the radio, I will sing out at the top of my lungs, “Let’s hear it for the girl!”


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