This was Melissa Divine, one of my Women’s Studies professors and someone I call a friend. She passed away Sunday and what they say is true, you never realize how important someone is to you until you’re gone.
Melissa was all things feminist and taught me that being a feminist meant that you are a WOMAN. Feminist doesn’t have to be a negative connotation. We are not ‘bra burners’, we are people who deserve respect. Melissa made me a more confident person and woman and I love her for that.
I’ll never forget one exercise she made our class do (one of the 3 classes I took with her). She said until the next class (2 days from then) we were to make eye contact and smile with every woman we came across, walking to class, in the supermarket, etc. She said that we needed to notice how many women look away because it’s a natural reaction not to genuinely acknowledge eye contact from a stranger.
So I did it. And the results were eye-opening (no pun intended). I would say 9 out of 10 women looked away.
What did this teach me? It taught me to smile at strangers and return smiles to those who smile at me. It taught me not to shy away from others just because I’m supposed to be a demure woman who isn’t supposed to speak her mind. All cheese aside, smiling is a simple gesture that reminds us that we are all humans on this great big planet, living our life and attempting some sort of happiness.