I Am a Woman | Emma Allison

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As a middle-class American woman and college student, I know that I have been afforded opportunities that many other women around the world have not. Even within America, many women have not had the same chances as me. Opportunities for women are changing and growing around the world and yet, women everywhere still struggle to be treated fairly. They are expected to become mothers and to focus on their families rather than spending their time getting an education and building careers. Women are often told that they cannot do something, or they must act a certain way simply because they are female. This is an issue that I have become increasingly passionate about during my time in college.

            Over the past few years, I have also found myself struggling with the American identity and its view on the rest of the world. With the country’s current political climate, it seems to me that there is a growing air of nationalism. We often hear that this country is better than others and that the culture here is superior in multiple ways. Words like “freedom” and “equality” are thrown around and, on one hand, it does appear that some Americans have more opportunities in life. However, that does not mean the entirety of American life is better. America has yet to have a female president while many other countries have had female leaders, our education system is lacking for such a developed country, and workplace equality is protected by law but not always in practice. We still have social issues to work through, freedom and equality are not available to everyone, and American life is most definitely not fair.

            Worldwide, as people struggle with inequalities and hardships, those who are religious turn to God for an explanation and comfort. Depending on the location and the person, the form that God takes can be very different. Almost every prophet, messiah, and avatar has taught love and compassion, and the golden rule can be found in most traditions. Despite this, religious wars are fought, people claim that their God is better than the next, and this love that has been taught is nowhere to be found. Why is it that even though the core teachings of most religions are the same, many refuse to see the similarities that exist? The way I see it, many people around the world love God and, even if it is not the same God by name, God is God. Whether one believes in one God, a different God, or no god, we are all human and should respect each other as such.

            During the fall semester of 2018, I took an introductory class on Hindu Cultures. At the end of the semester, we were required to complete a creative project reflecting on a social issue and take a stand. We were instructed to put ourselves in the shoes of those marginalized by society and use that perspective to describe and defend their position. I took the opportunity to explore some of the societal issues I had been noticing. Because I am not a Christian or a Hindu, I decided to research those perspectives in order to better understand them. I wrote a poem which compared the lives of a Christian American woman and a Hindu Indian woman. Poetry has always been a creative outlet for me. It allows me to explore my thoughts and feelings while also giving me a way to explore the thoughts and feelings of others. Although the poem was originally written as an assignment, I quickly found myself getting drawn into the views and passion as I was writing. Before I explain the way the poem is designed to be read, I would like to provide a brief disclaimer:

As mentioned, I do not personally identify as Christian or Hindu. The views and feelings expressed in the poem are my perceptions and are not meant to be taken as facts, nor should they be taken as stereotypes or attempts to make assumptions.

            As stated before, this poem is meant to compare the lives of two separate women. The poem is meant to be read aloud by two people. One person would read the column on the left, which represents the point of view of a Hindu Indian woman. The other would read the column on the right, which represents the point of view of a Christian American woman. Both people would read the column in the middle, which represents shared statements or views. This format is meant to highlight similarities and differences, to elicit empathy, and to show that we are not so different after all. This is my attempt to step into the shoes of people different from me.

I am a Woman by Emma Allison

I am a woman

USA born and raised

India is my birthplace

I am proud to be an American
Living in the land of the free

A country full of people
And famous for its food
I love my home

I am proud of where I’m from

I am proud of the culture
And the colors

I am proud of our founding
And our presence in the world

I love how spirituality is steeped into daily life
A cup of chai steaming with love for God
The scent of spices filling the air for everyone to enjoy

I love the diversity
People with origins stemming from everywhere
Growing and blooming together

I am a woman
And I am proud of my country

Proud of my country 
that has allowed me so many opportunities

Proud of my country
That is so vibrant and full of life

But my country challenges me

My opportunities can be limited
Who would trust a female mechanic?
Who would expect a woman to be an engineer?
Right?

My place is with my family
A woman doesn’t need to go to college to have a child
A family needs me to cook and support them
My husband can earn the money
Right?

Wrong
My family needs me
And I need them
But there is more to my life than that

I have a career

I have passions

And I love God

Jesus watches over me
A Father in Heaven who will care for me
And protect me Ever-loving and ever-present
He loves me

Krishna’s flute plays in my heart
Just as the gopis
Who loved him so dearly
Played with him

My love for God keeps me strong

Even when I am expected to be meek and modest
because I’m a girl

Even when I am told I can’t do something 
because I’m a girl

Even when life feels unfair
And I thank Him for the increasing opportunities for females

There are more and more women in STEM

And more and more women are pursuing careers outside of their families

And still yet more women everywhere are breaking standards
Things are getting better
And yet
Better does not mean perfect
I am still a woman
I still fear rape
Men still think they can control me
My marriage is expected
Why would a woman want to stay single?
My purpose is to be a mother
My achievements mean I must have overcome expectations
You may not respect me
You may not love me
But God does
And so do I

Emma Allison, student at Furman University.

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