Like Mother, Like Daughter, Like Lisa Simpson

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13044369617558.z7HKcaCS5Bq3zVIFiNHG_height640Soleil Young, 18Syracuse University

If you knew my mother, it would come  as no surprise to you that I was a feminist. My mom used to crusade for the ERA back in the 80’s and dressed me up in “Girls Rock” t-shirts when I was little.  As a child, I was an enthusiastic feminist. I picked it up from my mom.

Sadly, when I turned 12 or 13, I went through a teenage rebellion phase (like most do). Instead of rebelling against my conservative parents (something I couldn’t do since I didn’t have any) and becoming a hippie, I went through an odd shift towards the right politically. I stopped calling myself a feminist (it wasn’t necessary anymore is what I told myself), insisted I agreed with some of the tenets of the Republican Party, and declared to everyone that I hated communism. Like most teenagers, I didn’t think about the internalized messages of misogyny that perforated my life.

I don’t like to think back to that time, since I thought and said some sexist, shitty things (pardon my language). Luckily it only lasted a year or two. What brought me back to the feminist path was not my mom or any feminist writers, but Lisa Simpson. I started watching “The Simpsons” when I was about 14 years old. I instantly fell in love with Lisa, someone who I connected with greatly. She was smart, didn’t feel like she fit in anywhere, passionate, and creative. She was also a feminist. The pivotal episode for me was “Lisa vs. Malibu Stacy” (S5E14). After that, I was officially converted back to feminism.

I suppose it’s a little odd that I found inspiration from a fictional, animated eight year old on “The Simpsons” instead of my very real mother, but I think I needed to find my own path to feminism. Since then, I’ve continued my interest and belief in feminism, partially thanks to the Internet, which provided me with the space to interact with other feminists in a non-academic environment. Blogging to me provided an easy and non-judgmental space to learn and grow as a feminist.

Today I would describe myself as a hardcore feminist. As someone whose been active in scientific research since high school, I was able to combine my love of science and feminism to educate people about sexism in the STEM fields, and the systematic discouragement of women in STEM (I run a blog called thematildaeffect.tumblr.com that writes about forgotten woman scientists). It’s been a long and odd journey, but I couldn’t be happier that I went on it (as cheesy and cliché as that sounds).

 My name is Soleil Young, and I am 18 years old. I am currently attending Syracuse University, and I am majoring in Anthropology, Biology and Women and Gender Studies.