An ode to real-life superheroines
IT’S INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY this month, so I am taking the opportunity to recognise two women who have made a tremendous impact on my life. The first is Rosa Parks. I came across the American civil rights activist when I was researching for a written assignment back when I was in school.
It sounds incredibly chauvinistic, but as a teenager who had grown up in a patriarchal society, I was blown away that a woman could be so influential. At that point, perhaps thanks in part to the media, I saw men in positions of power everywhere I looked. Most politicians were male. Most movie leads were male. Heck, even most religious leaders were male.
So when I read about how Parks would rather be arrested than be forced to give up her seat to a white passenger in a bus in Montgomery, Alabama, I went on to research other incredible women who didn’t take s*** from anyone.
I read about Amelia Earhart, the badass who flew solo across the Atlantic in 1932. I read about Billie Jean King, the tennis ace who beat Bobby Riggs in the “Battle of the Sexes” after he taunted female tennis players. I read about Benazir Bhutto, the first female prime minister of a Muslim nation who helped move Pakistan from a dictatorship to a democracy.
I was always taught to respect the fairer sex, but these stories instilled a deeper sense of admiration in me. It made me believe that women are just as capable as men, and it all started with Rosa Parks.
She once said, “I have learnt over the years that when one’s mind is made up, this diminishes fear; knowing what must be done does away with fear.” It remains one of the best pieces of advice I have read.
The second woman is my own mother. To me she is an incredible human being. She’s out of the house by 6am to work at a full-time job, and still comes home to prepare dinner every day. She barely gets time to herself and yet, she never so much as mutters a word of complaint.
When I was about nine, my mum taught me a life lesson that will forever be etched in my mind. It was my school’s annual sports day and in typical fashion, she was there to cheer me on. I was pretty confident that I’d do well in my event so I wasn’t surprised when I was in the lead close to the finish line. But metres from glory I tripped over my own feet and crumpled on the track. Half-sobbing from the pain and embarrassment, I crossed the finish line with my head hung low, defeated. My mum came over to check on me but I just walked off to the grandstand without saying a thing. Later on, after a few other events had taken place, she came back to me, grabbed me by the hand, and said “follow me”. Before I could object, she had dragged me back on the track for a parent-son threelegged race.
I was still protesting when the air-horn went off, but she had already lifted me and started racing towards the finish line. To my surprise we came in third, and I couldn’t help but have a smile plastered across my face as I walked up to receive the trophy.
That day I learnt my mother knew just what I needed. She wasn’t going to let my own moaning get in the way of it. So to all the women out there, know that you are just as powerful as men, if not more.