My Phenomenal Unearthing of Feminism & Self Efficacy
by Maiya Milan Gitryte, Artist & Entrepreneur I discovered that I was a feminist somewhat by accident. I can recall the moment quite vividly now as I sit in a local café typing these words. It all began on a typically humid South Florida evening. A friend and I had RSVP’d to attend a popular nightclub in Miami Beach.
Although my friend had opted to dress in high heeled shoes as I usually did, that night, I chose to wear flat dress thong sandals. As we approached the “velvet ropes” of the venue, I was rather abruptly told by the doorman that I could not enter due to my footwear. I was baffled. I glanced down at my feet; nicely pedicured toes, black sandals adorned with crystals. The doorman stated that I would not be allowed entry because I was wearing flat shoes.
Although I was mildly disappointed, I remained in a jovial mood and proceeded to ask the doorman a situational question; suppose I’d recently suffered an injury that prevented me from wearing high heeled shoes? “Then stay home” the doorman replied “you’re a woman, you should know better”. Well there went my jovial mood. After a few more unpleasant exchanges, my friend and I turned around and walked back to our parked car. I was furious. To add injury to insult, when I repeated the details of the incident to a male relative, he agreed with the doorman. Seriously?
In the weeks following, I contacted civil rights attorneys, feminists groups and city officials alike. I wanted retribution. I wanted the doorman to suffer. I wanted an end to the sexist expectation that seemed to taint the nightlife experience. However, in the end, I got nowhere. Nightclubs are considered private venues that allow public access. Therefore, they are given permission to discriminate on whatever grounds they so choose. Darn it. As the months passed, I came to three important conclusions. First, the doorman of the nightclub is a misogynistic jerk. Second, the male relative mentioned above is a misogynistic jerk. Third, I am a feminist. I am a feminist because there are days that I do not feel like wearing make-up or flat ironing my hair. I am afeminist because I believe in “Alpha Females”. I am a feminist because I believe in a woman’s right to choose; not just what she will wear, where she works, what she buys or where she lives. I am a feminist because I am not docile, agreeable, nurturing, selfless, kind, or sexy unless I want to be. I am a feminist because I love dresses & high heels but I am most comfortable in denim jeans & motorcycle boots. I am a feminist because my life goals do not rely on marriage or motherhood. I am a feminist because I am a human being before I am a woman and as a human being, I am entitled to the same freedoms, joys, sorrows, accomplishments, woes & challenges as any other human being; male or female.
It took me a while to get here. Being raised by a single mother who eventually would own her own company did nothing for my self esteem. Neither did my endless array of relationships. I had to find for it myself. There were times where I worried that I was not dating/wife material because I did not act like, dress like, think like or look like the women that men hang posters of or tweet about. Until one day, I decided that I would be healthier & happier if I would just be myself. And so I did. Now, I am a woman who is not afraid to swear like a sailor or giggle like a school girl when it’s appropriate. And I’ve found the courage to enjoy this journey alone, until I discover someone that is just as human.
Maiya Milan Gitryte- Artist & Entrepreneur CEO of Citizens of the Universe, LLC.