September 22, 2014

DUGGAL | Tina Fey Is My Girl

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By HEBANI DUGGAL

It’s been a rough week. Usually, I manage to limit the amount of times I get run over by the TCAT to less than three, and this week, I’m at four, and it’s only Tuesday. I wish I could say I have the drive (pun intended) to deal with the fact that prelims are approaching, and calculus is a foreign language and I have no idea what I’m doing here, but that’s not entirely true. I do, however, have Tina Fey and her words of wisdom.

“Don’t waste your energy trying to educate or change opinions. Go ‘Over! Under! Through!’ and opinions will change organically when you’re the boss. Or they won’t. Who cares? Do your thing and don’t care if they like it.” Inspired? I am. Tina’s words are tucked away in Bossypants, one of the three books my idealistic self brought to college because “I can read during my free time.” They’re my motivation, and more recently, they’re the words that come to mind when I hear people claim that we don’t need feminism anymore. Stop rolling your eyes, this isn’t another piece on the importance of recognizing gender inequality or the lack of respect towards women in rap culture or whatever. I don’t care if you think we need more or less feminism in the future. It doesn’t matter to me if you even believe in feminism or not. I care about what you do with what you believe. To me, using the energy it would take to protest sexism to instead outpace people who condescend based on gender is what feminism in the 21st century is all about.

It would be a mistake to assume that the feminism we talk of today is the same feminism our mothers or grandmothers advocated. Today, women are allowed to vote, to work, to pursue an education and to make the decision to put their careers ahead of their family lives. We have undoubtedly made progress, but we are far from equality. Feminism needs to stick around. Why? Because even though every two minutes, another American is sexually assaulted,  society still asks what she was wearing to provoke the attack. And because while American women are free to enjoy the right to vote and to drive, Saudi Arabian women are not. And because, when the average woman turns 60, she will have earned $450,000 less than a man working in the same position for the same amount of time. So no, feminism cannot quietly fade into the background just yet.

There is, however, a way to be a feminist without pulling out statistics every time you feel you need to defend yourself: just don’t care if they don’t like it. It doesn’t matter if the person in front of you is a narrow-minded jerk so long as you can get over, under or through him or her. The energy you would waste proving your worth to the person in front of you is better used working towards simply being better than that person. To put it more diplomatically, as Emma Watson did, “If you hate the word, it is not the word that matters. It is the ideas and the ambitions behind it.”

Hebani Duggal is a freshman in the College of Arts and Sciences. She can be reached at hduggal@cornellsun.com. Teach Me How to Duggal appears alternate Tuesdays this semester.

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