IN HER OWN WORDS: DEANNA
DeAnna Parker is a 2012 graduate and Empowerment Scholarship recipient. In her essay, DeAnna talks about being raised by her single mother and learning about how female empowerment plays a role in her life. DeAnna is currently studying biology at Olgethorpe University.
I was raised by my mother. I learned from her the roles of women in the household, women in the workforce, and women in society. Before the workshops I knew that real women are diligent, intelligent, and compassionate. But I did not see a purpose for empowering women. I felt that if more women empowered and loved themselves then there wouldn't need to be this constant seeming dissatisfaction perpetuated by some women's rights organizations. I felt that such organizations belittled the role and importance of men in our society and made women unaccountable for their own actions. They treated women like fragile victims, while claiming to fight for equality. I thought the tactics of such organizations were radical, illogical, unintelligible, and above all else unnecessary.
The Athena's Warehouse workshops made me reexamine my perspective. The positive self-image workshop where we learned a dance routine, healthy eating tips, and how to boost our self esteem helped me to see the empowerment of women a lot differently. I finally saw a women's empowerment program that placed the responsibility of empowerment on the individual. I remember we were told to dwell on the positive and not the negative, which was something I struggled with, but when I needed a boost I tried to remember something positive and it has helped me through my days. The health tips also made me see the importance of exercise, for more than just weight loss. Exercise is about feeling good inside and out. I learned that from the workshop, because I definitely wasn't the best dancer, but I felt accomplished when I challenged myself, and when I went for a run the other day after a stressful day I sweated out the strain of the day and cooled down with some calming yoga. I learned that exercise is a reward and a positive energy booster.
The self-awareness, self defense, and violence awareness workshop was very informational. I was so surprised to find that so many women were abused so violently all over the United States, in just a year. It was saddening and eye opening. I learned how to better protect myself and to identify when I'm in a dangerous situation. A friend's mother was in an abusive situation and because of the workshop we were able to make appropriate changes in her life. From this workshop I learned the importance of protecting the body and the mind. Protecting my mind by never feeling I deserve someone treating me badly and protecting my body by being aware of warning signs. The cooking workshop was really fun and simple. I learned a lot of what not to do, and a lot about the power of salt and the influence of personality on food taste. Every dish seems to reflect the personality of its cook.
All of the workshops taught me valuable and new information. The TAG retreat offered a safe environment to talk about sensitive issues and that workshop offered a lot of options and once again reiterated the power of the individual. The Athena's Warehouse workshops have shown me that empowerment comes from within. At the end of the day there is no one to blame and nothing negative to dwell on because I am responsible for making decisions that I can be proud of. I have learned that it is necessary to stand together as women and to support each other because sometimes it's hard for us to look in the mirror and see what our sisters see in us. To be a young woman is a privilege and a great responsibility. Because of these workshops I can be more confident in myself, and empower everyone around me because I know together we are stronger than we ever imagined we could be.