"I Attended a Panel Discussion on Feminism"

Yesterday evening I attended something powerful; it was beyond powerful, it was great. The Metropolitan Board of the Chicago Urban League hosted a panel discussion called "What a Feminist Looks Like?" The discussion featured six powerful women from around the Chicago area. All of these women, in a way of their own, are activists, teachers and feminists. They trot the nation and the globe speaking up and for women's rights, feminism, the right to choose and equality.


Prior to attending this event I started to wonder about my stance on the topic of feminism. I attended Spelman College, so the topic of feminism is very familiar to me. Although, feminist topics are things that I frequently catch myself unconsciously shifting a conversation to, I am not sure if I have established my own personal views when it comes to the topic. Do I consider myself a feminist? Am I a feminist if I don't always agree with the choices of other women? Are gender and RACE taken into consideration when talking about feminism? A ton of questions started to flood my mind. What, indeed, does a feminist look like? It was important for me to learn and figure out where I fit in when it comes to this.


Exploring these areas in my personal life is what I appreciated the most about the discussion. I can honestly say this was one of the best panel discussions I have attended all year. The panelists were very real and honest. I was engaged during the entire event. Topics, such as race, class and inequality, were explored. This was very eye-opening for me, especially when it came to race. How can I identify if I am being oppressed because I am a woman and when I am also Black? It is impossible to separate the two. Are black women treated unfairly because they are Black or because they are women? This was just one of the many topics that we discussed.


The women on the panel were diverse and all came from different backgrounds. Some worked in politics, education and government, while others were authors. The conversation varied between those who were mothers and those who decided not to have children. That made me raise another question: Are women who don't have children considered less than those that do decide to have children? Womanhood shouldn't be judged on the decision to have children, but it often is.

Another intriguing factor that I realized is that our points of view are biased. We saw the feminist perspective from those living in America, but I'm sure this perspective shifts when inquiring about women from other countries and parts of the globe. Culture always plays a part in many of our ideologies. American culture shapes feminism to be empowering. The same is not true in other societies. Could feminism shift the way cultures behave, especially where women are born and die submissive? This was the most profound question that I asked myself. I know that I will explore this deeper. I have always been interested in understanding things from global viewpoints. This can be saved for later.

As of now, to me, feminism means the right to be treated fairly, equally, and as importantly as men. It is the right to choose what is right for you and your life. If you want to be a stay at home mom, fine, or change the world, that's great too. I agree with both of those things as long as a woman makes the choice herself and on her own terms. Another part of feminism is being supportive of other women and the choices they make, not passing judgment even if you don't like the choice that was made. I still have a long way to go and more avenues to explore. But one key thing that I learned during this panel discussion is that I am empowered and in power of my life, my mistakes and my choices. What I decide to do should not be determined by another person, especially a man. I am going to dig into this topic deeper so I can learn and develop my own ideologies regarding this diverse topic. When the time is right I will share more. But, for now, I leave you here.


By: Rachel M. Roberts via EIC Le'Keshia Smith