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The big F word

By: Teresa Valadez


Pick one word that can make more than half of the population squeamish. A single word
that will cause outrage, cause violence, cause discrimination. A word people have been fighting a
silent war for. A word that when said leaves the atmosphere with a heavy and uncomfortable
aura. Have you thought of the word yet?
I personally am not one to speak out on the actions of society as a whole, but there are
times when it becomes hard to be so ignorant about such grand matters. Coming from a Hispanic
background, I have always seen the way that traditional marriages occur. A man is in charge of
income and of making decisions while a woman is in charge of cooking, cleaning, and taking
care of children. There is no other way. This is tradition. A woman is viewed as an object, a mere
piece of property. A woman is to keep her place, keep her mouth shut, and allow her husband,
father, brother, etc to dictate her life. There is no choice as to whether or not a woman wishes to
do something. Its a matter so frowned upon, not just in the Hispanic community but in many
cultures around the world. But this is America, the land of the free, the land of liberties, the land
of independence. Yet why is it that women are still viewed to this day as the weaker sex? What
chromosomal alignment led to the ignorance of female independence?
When I first heard the big F word, I automatically made the negative association that
many others do when they hear this word. The word itself seems selfish, and a naive 12 year old
mind carries forth with first impressions without really looking into the matter. My mother had
raised me in a traditional female way: ask no questions, do what is asked of you, and always
smile. But with puberty on the horizon, something changed. I suppose you can refer to it as the
onset of teenage rebellion, but I began to question the way the world worked. I began to speak
out when my parents asked something of me. I began to question why I had to clean the living
room while my father slept on the couch. These small instances of curiosity led me to the big F
word.
The Webster dictionary defines feminism as the theory of the political, economic, and
social equality of the sexes. However, many people automatically assume that feminism is the
push for female superiority which is ironic for the fact the whole point of feminism is to get
away from a single sex superiority. When I finally began to understand the feminist movement, I
began to realize how terrible things really were. Ive always been conservative and try not to
voice my opinions on controversial issues, yet on September 7th, 2013 I pushed at my
boundaries and decided to join the Chicago Slut Walk. The Slut Walk campaign is a group
supported and funded mostly by people of the feminist movement who march out and protest the
inequalities present in female life and to bring awareness about the rape culture found in the
United States. I decided to go to the Slut Walk just to see how I would relate to other people
fighting my same cause.
I cannot recall a moment where I was completely speechless until I saw how many
people were located in Daley Plaza in Chicago. The multitude of people was not, however, what
took me aback, it was the stories that all of these people had and the measures they went to just

to prove their points. Of these stories, theres one that stuck with me the most. A woman named
Danielle was wearing a pair of jeans and an old t shirt. This is viewed as odd in Slut Walks for
men and women walk around almost nude to prove the point that no matter what one is wearing,
no is no. Danielle did not go with a provocative outfit because her point was much larger than
theirs. When she was in college, she was raped wearing that exact outfit. She told me that she has
gone to Slut Walks across the country spreading her message, that it does not matter what one is
wearing, rape is rape and that there are no exceptions.
The details of her story have forever become etched in my mind about exactly how
pathetically women are viewed in the world. Danielle suffered tremendously from her event, but
it is because of her that my eyes opened as to how vulnerable I personally am. I used to assume
that things like that would never happen to me, but the odds that it will are incredibly high (1 in 5
women are likely to raped according to a study conducted in 2002 by SARS). This has lead to
my personal reevaluation of my surroundings. I am constantly in fear when I have to go
somewhere alone. I find myself walking a little bit faster when I notice a man behind me. For a
17 year old girl, I find this absolutely repulsive. I do not understand why my gender takes away
my basic rights.
And this leads back to how misinformed the population is about what feminism is.
Feminists want women to be in charge of their lives, they want to be paid the same amount that
their fellow male comrades make (women make about 77% of what men are paid, for the exact
same position). In general terms, feminism is set out to create an equality between everyone, not
just a select few and I am ultimately grateful that I have been able to open my eyes and fight for
my rights as a young woman of this country.