I didn’t expect much when I first joined the Rising Voices Fellowship—I thought I’d meet some fellow writers and have a good time blogging. Yes, both of those things ended up happening for me, but I ended up getting so much more out of the fellowship than I had originally expected. I’ve participated in many meaningful activities, but joining the Rising Voices Fellowship was one of my favorites. I’ve been able to explore who I am as a writer and as a Jewish feminist.
Rising Voices taught me that there isn’t one simple definition of a feminist. When I started the fellowship back in October, my feminism consisted of a belief that men and women should be treated equally and be given equal opportunities. Throughout the Fellowship, I met with a group of girls monthly who, along with peer editing and exploring different writing techniques, also challenged my views. The Fellowship is made up of a group of girls who all have different views on feminism—and that’s okay. I’ve learned that my idea of a feminist is not everyone’s definition of a true feminist. I came to realize that even though others may disagree with my views, I am just as entitled to the label of feminist.
The Rising Voices Fellowship has also exposed me to a different way of expressing myself: blogging. High school taught me how to write a very structured five-paragraph essay based around a well-constructed thesis. While this is an important skill, Rising Voices showed me that writing is more than just following a set structure. The chance for strangers to comment on my writing on the Jewesses with Attitude blog has helped me grow as a writer. The idea that my writing is up on the internet for more than just my English teachers and mom to view has made this experience even more meaningful.
Most of all, I’ve come to appreciate the importance of the untold narrative during my time as a Rising Voices Fellow—the stories that didn’t make it into the history textbooks or the ones that faded into the background. Women’s voices have tended to be those untold narratives that get left out of history books and the official record. In my previous Rising Voices pieces, I have found my own voice as a female USY president in my very first blog post, explored the power of hearing Richie Jean Sherrod Jackson’s voice in my pop culture piece, and discovered the impact of my grandmother’s storytelling in my Passover piece. Rising Voices has given me a space to further explore those untold stories and their meaning in my life. To understand where we are today, everyone needs to go beyond what is written in textbooks. We should all read diaries and letters, view personal photos, and seek out the “untold narratives.” It is not enough to only study the official story, but to learn from all voices, including those of women. Many of the women that I wrote about this past year have offered different perspectives, whether it was Jean presenting a different view of the civil rights movement or my grandmother offering a different look at the Passover story. I can’t wait to experience my next adventures and to share these stories.