Real Empowerment

By and


In reading the Oct. 2 letter by Alicia Ingersoll, “Not Your Mother’s Feminism,” I couldn’t help but be a little puzzled by the claim that women have to display their sexuality to obtain empowerment. I feel that clothing has little, if anything, to do with empowerment.

Empowerment does not come from the way one dresses, but by how one thinks, what one says and how one treats other people.

I do not see how immodesty, body piercings, tattoos and revealing clothing can be empowering. Perhaps this is because many years ago I decided that I wanted nothing to do with style or glamour, and came up with a few simple rules that dictate what I wear: wear only solid colors, avoid advertisements and avoid T-shirts.

One reason for this is that I don’t see why my wardrobe should force me to make dramatic decisions every morning in an attempt to be “accepted.”

I still seek empowerment, but as a mathematician, and I can only see myself empowered through ideas. While showing disrespect to one’s body definitely makes a “statement,” it’s one based on shock. You could walk around naked, and though it would initially shock people, eventually they would just learn to ignore it. To make a lasting impression, though, you would have to do something awe-inspiring, such as proving a fantastic theorem or writing a great novel or simply developing the respect of everyone around you.

I have great respect for those who do what is right, even when they are disregarded as “old-fashioned” or “odd” for doing so.

I hope we can recognize that much of what everyone says is “fashionable” or “empowering” is really just smoke and mirrors.

Alphy Madsen

Graduate Student, Mathematics