To Be or Not To Be… a Feminist

Jatziry Guzman Berzunza wearing a white hat To be or not to be... a feminist

Written by: Jatziry Guzman Berzunza

I grew up in México in a small town, I came to the US at 24 years old.

Some people, when they hear my story, want to know, “Why did you come to the US? For the most part it is has kind and curious people that ask.

I feel that my story is similar but not as harsh and sad as many of the other stories you hear from immigrants who have come here.

The dream of opportunity, the dream of being safe, the dream of not being harassed on the streets. The dream of a good paying job, the dream of a partner that is not abusive, manipulative, a better life!

Time has gone by, twenty years to be exact, I am now a citizen. I have been able to go back to México to visit my family, my Mom was able to come and work and stay, and my daughter came and after high school went back to Oaxaca.

 A few years ago, my fiance Bob and I were discussing the issue of feminism and he asked me if I considered myself a feminist?

I answered, It depends, If I am in México, I am a feminist, If I am here (USA) I am not.

I had to think about it, and this is my conclusion.

Every time when I go back to México I feel, sad, overwhelmed, angry, and unfortunately not surprised of the chauvinistic way society works there. At the beginning of my trips I would argue, confront, get angry at every situation that would come my way. Vacation time was not relaxing.

Then I would come back home and my guard would come down. I would watch TV news and see women screaming, being angry, frustrated, arguing, fighting for respect and equality and I would think “What are they talking about?” “Why are they so angry?”, especially compared to Mexico.

Fast forward to the “MeToo” Movement and I suddenly realized how much harassment is happening here as well. I saw those angry women and frustrated women, many expressing the same sentiment I feel when I go back home.

What I understand now, however is also what type of victim I still am (Because I am still learning) of that chauvinistic society that I thought I left when I came here.

Many of the things that women here in the U.S take for granted, I didn’t even dream of. Being independent, having of a career, getting a college degree, those things never crossed my mind. 

Life in the US has taken me in a beautiful journey that until recently through a series of epiphany’s, I didn’t realize I have been experiencing.

I did not go to college because still today I do not feel I have the skills to do s (This is what I am still working on, my beliefs and confidence)

However, I lived on my own for a while here and in México, I went to Cosmetology school and became an Instructor.  I guess I may have what it takes for a journey to a College Degree. I am evolving.

(On a side note about the Cosmotology and Beauty Industry… I recognize now that in an industry that “caters” so much to women, to be successful in it you, have to be a man. For Another Blog)

I have come to realize now that women here in the U.S. are as angry and frustrated at the inequalities in our society as what I see going back home. I may not have seen it here because here, like in my and many other countries, Women are also held down and kept quiet. They are trying to get out or survive an abusive relationship, have strong opinions, grow careers and face many similar challenges. I feel that here in the U.S, even with the “metoo” it would be risky and perhaps devastating for our careers to report harassments and abuses.

In other countries it can even be devastating for your life.

I am now taking on a professional career as part owner of a Manufacturing Rep Firm with my fiancé. This experience has made me realize the money side of unequal pay and treatment to women. There have been cases where people dealing with me want to lower or delay payments delay answers and I am surprised at how treatment changes when my partner gets involved.

But more than anything again it is the realization of how a Caucasian male gets treated in business, opportunities, pay and overall treatment vs. a Hispanic woman from a third world country.

What I am also realizing is how education changes your mind, how sheltered my mind had been and how little by little the opportunities of education and experiences  have changed my fears. It is time to exercise my “exigir”, or “how I want things to be”.

I am suddenly starting FIND MY VOICE!

 I want equality

I want to change the way I think.

I want to decide.

I want to help.

I am thankful for the women in my life that answer my questions with kindness.

 I am thankful for the men that treat me with respect and cheer for me to get a promotion , better pay and opportunities.

I am thankful for the situations and people that challenge my beliefs and thoughts. 

I am thankful for the impassioned women on documentaries, teaching me lessons about how a strong willed woman (who has a victim of chauvinistic behavior’s or actions) believes, thinks and acts.

I am finally am happy to announce …

Yes…. I AM A FEMINIST!

Follow Jatziry Guzman Berzunza

Website: Jat Yoga

Who Am I To Do This?

Rachel Drummond warrior 2 who am I to start an intersectional feminist blog

I tried hard really hard to not start this blog. Honestly, I did. But since you’re reading this now, it’s clear that my voice of reason lost this round to the shared voice of the heart and gut.

My voice of neurotic and protective reasoning didn’t concede the battle without asking incessant questions. My calm inner voice of truth kept right on answering them and that’s how we got here.

The Q&A session in my head went something like this:

Q: “Who are you to start an intersectional feminist blog?”

A: “A woman who wants to create a space to free, heal, inform, and inspire others.”

Q: “You’re white. You can’t just feature stories overcoming challenges from you and other white women. If this is going to be an intersectional feminist blog, you need stories from a diverse range of women.”

A: “I know.”

Q: “You have a lot going on right now, you know.”

A: “I know.”

Q: “Are you aware of how much time this blog will take?”

A: “I have a general idea. Posting once a month is sustainable for me. I have a year of post ideas written down. I hope others will be inspired to write their own too.”

Q: “Doesn’t Pantsuit Nation on Facebook already do this?”

A: “Yes. And having one more place on the interwebs to share stories won’t hurt anyone. This blog is an option for people who aren’t on Facebook or want to spend less time scrolling there.”

Q: “Don’t you keep saying you want to simplify your life?”

A: “Yes. And every time I say no to starting this blog, the voice of Onward Woman keeps coming back and asking: ‘So when are we starting?'”

Why We’re Here: to Create Sisterhood and Promote Equity

The purpose of Onward Woman is to create sisterhood and promote equity by sharing stories from a diverse representation of women.

Through sharing stories of our bravery and resilience, which can range from tales of triumph to small and powerful actions, I hope we can:

  • create an intersectional feminist space
  • eliminate secrecy
  • normalize the unspoken
  • vaporize shame
  • allow healing
  • empower the storyteller
  • inform others
  • inspire action

Herstory

This blog will feature stories of women to counterbalance the disproportionate focus on “history” – cultural narratives that feature and celebrate the accomplishments of men.

Onward Woman is a place to write “herstory” – stories of bravery and resilience, struggle and triumph written by, about women.

Women Warriors

Throughout time, women have shown up as warriors. Ezer is the name used in Genesis to describe Eve which translates to “warrior” or “necessarily ally”. Warriors are brave individuals and supportive teammates. Warriors work together to do the most good.

Our presence and our voices are our power. Now is our time to remind each other how strong and resourceful we are through sharing our stories.

A Warrior Checklist

When it’s time for virabhadrasana II (warrior II posture) in my yoga practice, I go through a mental checklist to keep me safe, strong, and steady. This checklist helps me feel brave and confident so I’m sharing my warrior checklist with you. I hope that these physical cues will help you feel grounded, connected to your truth, inspired to take action.

A Warrior Checklist:

  • Arms up
  • Shoulders down
  • Neck relaxed
  • Eyes focused forward
  • Face calm
  • Belly drawn up and in
  • Hips open
  • Legs muscles engaged and active
  • Feet pressed firmly down
  • Breathe for five steady breaths

Inhale.

Exhale.

Pure self-made warrior power.

I can write this blog alone, but don’t want to. This is a blog that is meant for stories from the inclusive warrior women sisterhood. So if you’d like to contribute a story or you have a question, please contact me. And if you think you know someone who’d like to share their story, please share this post.

I understand it may be too early to tell, but what do you think of Onward Woman so far? What do you want more of in future posts? You can expect at least one per month from me and more if other women feel called to contribute.

Leave a comment and let me know what you think.

Thank you so much for your interest.

Onward, women!