Our Favorite Female Characters!

For this blog post, we’re discussing our favorite female characters in books and TV shows. Thank you to everyone who responded!

What were your favorite female characters (it can be from anywhere – television, books, comics, etc.) and why did you like them? Did they influence you in any significant ways as you grew up?

Name: Danielle Abraham, 3rd Year

Off the top of my head, some of my favorite female characters all come from TV shows–Bubbles from The Power Puff Girls, Sabrina the Teenage Witch, Rory from Gilmore Girls, and Lizzie McGuire. Bubbles was sweet, and even though she fought bad guys, she was afraid of the dark. I definitely related to Bubbles the most out of all the Power Puff Girls because she reminded me of myself–soft and scared, but still just as capable as anyone else. Another character I really looked up to was Lizzie McGuire. She was so down to earth and a little awkward. I feel like the life lessons and experiences she went through helped guide me, especially when it came to dealing with friendships and growing up. I will always remember that one episode where Lizzie wants to buy a bra. She felt so awkward and embarrassed about it, and in the end she yells out in front of everyone that she just wants to buy a bra! I feel like that scene really captures the difficulties of growing up; it’s awkward and uncomfortable and puberty feels so weird, but everyone goes through it and it’s normal! Lizzie was also really selfless and people meant a lot to her. I think that’s one of the qualities I liked about her the most: she was a great friend.

Name: Rachel Birnam, 3rd Year

While there are many real women in my life that constantly inspire and empower me, as a girl who loves to get lost in fictional worlds, there have also been many female characters that have influenced my life as well. From Sailor Moon to Meredith Grey, I will never forget all the valuable lessons I’ve learned from fictional ladies.

When I was a little girl, I would always spend Saturday mornings watching cartoons with my brother. While he loved Spiderman, Batman, and the many other male leads he had the option to look up to, I always loved Sailor Moon. The Sailor Moon girls were fun, smart, and totally bad-ass. From a young age they helped me to realize that being girly and being powerful are not mutually exclusive; a message that Elle Woods would later solidify for me.

All throughout my pre-teen years, I was obsessed with Lizzie McGuire. Through her awkward encounters, embarrassing stories, and the countless crushes and heartbreaks; I felt like I could relate to her. I remember the Lizzie McGuire themed birthday parties, going to see the movie with my friends, and constantly wishing that I could raid her closet. Lizzie McGuire was real, she was relatable, and she made those dramatic pre-teen years just a little bit more bearable.

During high school, as I began to look to books for an escape from AP tests, boys, and all the other stresses that high school brings, I read every book by Sarah Dessen. The way she beautifully depicted the trials and tribulations of being a teenage girl had me staying up until the early hours of the morning to read her books. One of her leading ladies, Remy, from This Lullaby, stuck with me the most. Her strong, but guarded demeanor and her endless sarcasm reminded me of myself; sometimes I felt like Sarah Dessen took the words right out of my mouth and wrote them down on paper.

Today, I still look to fictional ladies for inspiration. Any female character created by Shonda Rhimes is a lady I can get behind. Her ability to create strong, intelligent female characters who address real issues is a gift to primetime television. I’m forever grateful to Shonda Rhimes for creating Meredith Grey and Olivia Pope!

Name: Sasha Pollock

Growing up in San Diego, I would watch a show on Cartoon Network called Teen Titans. I adored this one female character, Starfire. She was a charming, red-headed lady from a distant planet. Her powers included the ability to shoot jets of green lasers from her hands and eyes, incredible strength, and on top of that she could fly like a pro. Most of the male “super” heroes such as Robin and Cyborg actually relied on technology or special equipment in order to fight in battle.

In a way, Starfire seemed to be the most genuinely “super” woman to me, that I had ever witnessed in a show about superheroes. This television program was different from many TV shows and comics which endow a woman with special abilities and the fail to follow this up with any ambition or initiative have her make use of these powers. For example, in one popular anime Bleach, there is a similarly beautiful redheaded character named Orihime who has the incredible ability to summon spirits who may fight on her behalf. She doesn’t use this power in all 100 episodes that I watched, without giving up immediately or crying because fighting is scary. This would often disappoint me as a teenager. Starfire was a positive contrast to this image of women as weak and cowardly.

Starfire was inspirational to me, because she was a relatable character with traditional feminine qualities I could relate to, who also had these radical powers. Her demeanor was misleadingly sweet and naive–she had the personality of any confused foreigner who is new to town. She often misunderstood certain aspects of American culture. As a young girl growing up, there were parts of my culture that I couldn’t understand despite being born with this natural heritage. It seems like any girl who ever felt like an alien even at home in this country, would have been able to look up to Starfire. As eccentric and vulnerable as she could act at times, when the battle begun she was ready to kick some butt. Her voice would grow unstoppably
fierce, and she’d unleash mighty flaming emerald bullets. She could defeat some super villains without assistance.

Not to mention the fact, that she singlehandedly saved Robin (her love interest) multiple times from falling off a cliff or a building–and this even became a regular part of their battle routine against a number of threatening foes. Therefore, she successfully subverted the typical damsel in distress role that women have a tendency to fall into (quite literally.)

Overall, she was a very inspiring superhero who positively influenced my view of women throughout my adolescence. I hope more characters like her show up in future TV shows for everyone.


Name: Carline Hua

Growing up, I was always obsessed with the Harry Potter series. One of my favorite female characters from the series is Hermione Granger. Known for her intelligence, Hermione worked hard in school and was always driven in her studies. What I really loved about Hermione is that she studied and worked hard for herself. She enjoyed excelling in all of her classes. Even more remarkable is how she worked through any hardships with determination and cleverness.

Personally, I always had trouble in school speaking up and being confident. Like many young girls, it was hard overcoming personal insecurities and having courage. What I really liked about Hermione was that she was never afraid to answer questions in class. She was strong and empowered, which is what I hoped to become. Hermione influenced me by showing me that there is strength in my own voice. All I had to do was trust that I was capable. In the Harry Potter books and movies, Hermione helps Harry overcome great trials with her intellect. Not only was she helpful intellectually, Hermione was a great friend. Her ambition did not overshadow the more meaningful things like friendship and loyalty. I think watching Hermione accomplish so much by being herself, and not worrying about what other people thought helped me to achieve greater things in school.

Hermione was an influential character for me because she defied many gendered concepts of what it means to be a woman. She was strong, empowered, ambitious, loyal, and compassionate. Hermione Granger showed me that I could be just as great as I wanted to be.

Femicide Book Collection at UCSD Women’s Center 2015

Thank you to our volunteers for their wonderful contributions to the blog!

Title: Making a Killing- Femicide, Free Trade, and La Frontera

Editor: Alicia Gaspar de Alba, with Georgina Guzmán

Country: Ciudad Juárez, Mexico


Summary: A collection of essays that describe the murders and sexual violence against women taking place in Ciudad Juárez, Mexico. These authors examine how these acts of violence in conjunction with a harsh patriarchal social order in Mexico have facilitated the proliferation of femicide in the 20th century. The essays take varying approaches in their examination of this violence against women on the boarder ranging from Marxist ideals to critical race theory. In connection with one another these essays come together to offer social, political, economic and feminist perspectives on the murders of approximately 500 Mexican women.

Title: Femicide- The Politics of Woman Killing

Editor: Jill Radford and Diana E. H. Russell

Continents: North America, and Europe

Summary: Explores the definition of femicide as the “misogynist killing of women by femicide2men” and the “most brutal form of sexist behavior” in following the murders of women across the western world. These contributors come together to illuminate the disturbing normalcy that femicide has adopted in modern culture with the rise of date rape, sexual harassment and other forms of violence against women. In examining the wide spread issue of these issues, women from different cultural and social backgrounds contribute to the investigation into the social values and institutions that proliferate femicide.

Title: Women and Violence

Author: Barrie Levy

Countries: Global


Summary: Levy offers insight into not only the modern issues surrounding femicide and violence against women in the modern context, but also provides historical context for the roots of these issues. He maps out the social, political and cultural context of violence against women on a global scale. In taking a historical and global perspective on these issues, Levy also offers accounts of individual experiences of women who have suffered under the harsh brutality of femicide and other forms of violence. He also examines the social cost that this violence has on communities as a whole and also examines potential solutions to these issues.

Title: Compañeras: Voices from the Latin American Women’s Movement

Editor: Gaby Küppers

Continents: South/Central America

Summary: In this collection of interviews of twenty-five Latin American women activistsfemicide3 as well as essays, the growing power of feminist movements in Latin America is explored. Women from all walks of life are included in this collection ranging from Mexican prostitutes to Nicaraguan political activists. The collection of these women’s experiences combine to demonstrate not only the stark issues of what it means to be a women in these nations, but also the growing power of the feminist movement and the greater mobilization of women in the face of sexist injustice. This book provides a look into not only the oppression of women under the highly male-dominated societies of Latin America, but also calls for hope and support for the women working to change what it means to be a Latin American woman.

Sexual Assault Awareness Book Display

Sexual Assault Awareness Book Display

Back Off! by Martha J. Langelan

Back Off!is filled with real-life success stories from women who have stopped harassers cold including Sharon, who succeeded in stopping a whole crew of habitual harassers in a city parker, or Stephanie, a ten-year-old who confronted and escaped a child molester, and dozens more. This is the first book to focus on the direct-action tactics that work and the first to deal with harassment everywhere it takes place, in both blue-collar and white-collar jobs, at school, on the street, on the bus or subw byay, in the park, even in church. It examines the dynamics of sex and power in the sexual harassment, the motives behind harasser’s actions, and why traditional responses such as appeasement or aggression don’t work, and describes the successful resistance strategies that you really can use – including nonviolent personal confrontation techniques, group confrontations, administrative remedies, and formal lawsuits.

Just Sex? By Nicola Gavey

This book examines social science research and feminist theories that have prompted a radical shift in Western understandings of rape and coercive sex in recent decades. This shift in perception has revealed the new phenomenon of date rape, which now clouds the divide between rape and what was once just sex. Drawing on feminist theory, cultural analysis, and in-depth interviews with women about their experiences of (hetero)sex, Gavey shows how important it is to consider the broader cultural context which limits some of women’s choices whilst encouraging others.

Defending Ourselves by Rosalind Wiseman

Defending Ourselves offers a complete course in self-defense without requiring you to be a martial-arts expert, or even to be in especially good physical shape. It also provides a refreshingly straightforward discussion of date rape and tells you what to do if you are physically assaulted, from going to the hospital to deciding whether to press charges. It includes the advice of police, counselors, and legal experts, as well as the stories of a wide selection of women.

No Excuses by Gloria Feldt

Do you feel confused about why women still earn less than men? Do you wonder why successful women still bump into the glass ceiling? Are you ready for more parity and satisfaction in personal relationships? In Gloria Feldt’s challenging and transformational book, you will learn how to shift your attitude about power, manifest the change you desire, and live life without limits.

Diverse Energies by Paolo Bacigalupi, Ursula K. Le Guin, Malinda Lo, Cindy Pon, Daniel H. Wilson, and more

In this stunning collection of original and rediscovered stories of tragedy and hope, the stars are a diverse group of students, street kids, good girls,  kidnappers, and child laborers pitted against their environments, their governments, differing cultures, and sometimes one another as they seek answers in their dystopian worlds. Take a journey through time from a nuclear nightmare if the past to society’s for future beyond Earth with these eleven stories by masters of speculative fiction.

Recovery: How to Survive Sexual Assault for Women, Men, Teenagers, and their Families by Helen Benedict

This book offers the survivors of rape and their friends and families information and comfort by building on the works of Susan Brownmiller, Diana Russell, and Ann Burgess. By interviewing rape survivors and their loved ones, and by drawing on the vast knowledge that rape crisis workers and psychologists have gathered during recent years, when rape has been taken seriously, Benedict offers advice on how to cope with both the short- and long-term aftermath of rape. This edition provides expanded and updated coverage on AIDS, date rape, and where to get help, including rape crisis programs, shelters, and special resources for teenagers, men, gays, and lesbians.

Male Victims of Sexual Assault Edited by Gillian C. Mezey and Michael B. King

Male Victims of Sexual Assault opens the debate with reports from international experts in the field, including chapters on homophobia and the cultural and historical background and attitudes to male sexual assault, sexual assault of male children and adolescents and of men in institutional settings, the trauma suffered by survivors of male rape and by men as co-survivors of female rape, and the treatment and legal recourse available to victims. The book brings together existing data, theoretical perspectives, and implications for future practice and policy.

After Silence by Nancy Venable Raine

After Silence is Nancy Venable Raine’s eloquent, profoundly moving response to her rapist’s command to “shut up,” a command that is so often echoed by society and internalized rape victims. Beginning with her assault by a stranger in her home in 1985, Raine’s riveting narrative of the ten-year aftermath of her rape brings to light the truth that survivors of traumatic experiences know – a trauma does not end when you find yourself aware. This landmark book is a stunning literary achievement that is a testimony to the power of language to transform the worst sort of violation and suffering into meaning and into art.

Denim Day

Denim Day

By Rachel Birnam


In 1998, the Italian Supreme Court overturned the rape conviction of a 45 year old driving instructor because the victim was wearing tight jeans. It was argued that the 18 year old victim must have had to aid the attacker in removing her jeans, and thus making the act consensual.



The decision led to widespread outrage and protests around the world, and thus Denim Day was born.


On April 22nd, the day the court’s decision was announced; people around the world wear denim in solidarity with the victim.

Wearing denim makes a statement against the misconceptions of sexual assault.

Sexual Assault Awareness Month

Review: Gender Buffet: Moving from Rape Culture to a Culture of Consent

By Rachel Birnam

As I sat down for the Gender Buffet at the Women’s Center on a sunny Friday afternoon, I was excited. Not only because it was my first Gender Buffet, but because the topic was something that I am deeply passionate about; a topic that I want to discuss and spread awareness on. In light of Sexual Assault Awareness Month, I was ready to have a dialogue about the huge problem that is rape culture, and how we, as a community, can shift that to a culture of consent.

The Gender Buffet began with representatives from SARC/CARE inviting us to list off some of the typical “safety warnings” we have heard throughout our lives, and whom/where we heard them. My mind immediately went to the cardinal rule that my mother ingrained into my head as a child, “never leave your drink unattended.” She has been telling this to my sister and me for as long as I can remember. When I was a little girl, it always seemed like something that I didn’t need to worry about yet; something that was far off into the future. But then, suddenly, I was eighteen years old, at my first college party, seeing my mother’s words flash through my mind like a neon warning sign every time I put down my drink. Still to this day, her words have remained in the back of my mind to be called upon when needed.

In addition to my contribution, the list grew with a variety of warnings that we hear far too often today: “Don’t wear a short skirt,” “Don’t walk alone at night,” “Always have pepper spray on you.” All of which were heard, for the most part, from parents, schools, the media, and churches.

We then moved on to discussing the four points that make up rape culture:

  1. Patriarchy
  2. Violent Masculinity
  3. Sexualizing Violence
  4. Victim Blaming

These four issues have become so engrained into our society today, so normalized, that the term “rape culture” is synonymous with “culture.”

It is not uncommon to walk out of a final exam and overhear students claim that the test “raped them.”

It is far too often that victims of sexual assault are slut shamed for the acts of violence committed against them.

It is on a regular basis that rape is considered the punchline to a joke.

So, what can we do to counter these issues? How do we move into a culture of consent?

In the next phase of the Gender Buffet, we were asked to write down anything that we had been taught about consent, and again, whom/where we heard it from. This list, as expected, was much shorter.

But why is that?

Why aren’t we taught to stay away from certain behaviors and environments instead of being taught the guidelines of consent?

Thus begins our shift into a culture of consent. I left the Gender Buffet making a promise to the group, and to myself, that I will continue this dialogue. I will bring what I’ve learned at this event and educate my little sister, start a dialogue with my older brother, empower and inspire the women around me.

I encourage anyone who may be reading this to do the same. To encourage your family, friends, and community to start a dialogue on rape culture, and strive to move that to a culture of consent.

PSA: SARC to CARE Transition

By Rachel Birnam

“PSA: SARC to CARE Transition

By Rachel Birnam

As of January 2015, UC San Diego’s Sexual Assault and Violence Prevention Resource Center (SARC) has expanded its resources and services, changing its name to Campus Advocacy, Resources, and Education at the Sexual Assault Resource Center (CARE at SARC) due to the call to action by the UC President, Janet Napolitano to have a system-wide consistent model for the prevention and response to sexual assault and violence.

What does the change entail?

CARE at SARC, will continue to offer counseling and crisis intervention services to students, campus wide, free of charge. However, the transition has opened up these services to staff and faculty.

What kind of services does CARE at SARC provide for students, staff, and faculty?

CARE at SARC is dedicated to providing confidential services to those affected by sexual assault, relationship violence, and stalking. These resources include individual counseling, crisis intervention, support groups, assistance with police, administrative, and non-investigative reporting options, accompaniment to police interviews, medical evidentiary exams, and court dates, and other forms of on campus advocacy. CARE at SARC is confidential and free.

In addition to these services, CARE at SARC is committed to educating the UC San Diego community on sexual/relationship violence. Some of their educational programs include: How to help a friend who is a victim of violence, Cute or Creepy: What’s a healthy relationship?, Every Little BIT Counts – Bystander Intervention Techniques for students, faculty, and staff, and Sexual Assault Awareness Month (April).

For more information on programs, staff, and resources, check out the website: https://students.ucsd.edu/well-being/_organizations/sarc/index.html, or stop by the center at Student Services Center, 5th floor, Room 555.

“UC San Diego is dedicated to creating a safe and respectful community through awareness, education and prevention of sexual assault and violence.” – Chancellor Pradeep K. Khosla”

Women’s History Month: Women in Writing

By Rachel Birnam

jhumpaJhumpa Lahiri is an Indian American author and Pulitzer Prize winner. Upon graduating from Barnard College with a B.A. in English Literature, Lahiri went on to receive multiple degrees from Boston University, including M.A. in English, M.F.A. in Creative Writing, M.A. in Comparative Literature, and a Ph.D. in Renaissance Studies. Lahiri’s career, however, did not have an easy start. Her early works of short stories were rejected multiple times year after year until, finally, her debut short story collection, Interpreter of Maladies, was picked up and published in 1999. Her career took off from there and she later published novels and more short stories, earning her a spot on top of the New York Times best seller list.

“What drew me to my craft was the desire to force the two worlds I occupied to mingle on the page as I was not brave enough, or mature enough, to allow in life” – Jhumpa Lahiri

angela davisAngela Davis is an American author, activist for social rights and equality, and UCSD alum. Davis emerged in the sixties as a leader of the Communist Party USA and a prominent civil rights activist, with ties to the Blank Panther Party and a focus on feminism and prison rights. Davis has written a variety of books and articles on feminism and racial equality, such as Women, Race, & Class, and her famous 1997 speech on the Prison Industrial Complex. In addition to her activism, Angela Davis is a scholar and professor. She served as an assistant professor in the Philosophy department at UCLA during the late sixties, and later went on to become a professor of Ethnic Studies at SF State and director of the Feminist Studies department at UCSC.

jane austenJane Austen, arguably the queen of romance and one of the greatest novelists of all time. Her social commentary of nineteenth century England led her to become one of the most celebrated, most respected, and progressive writers of English Literature. Austen experimented with elements of romance and realism in her novels such as Pride and Prejudice, Sense and Sensibility, and Emma. Her novels are famously known for her independent female characters and criticizing the “social norm” of the time that women were required to be dependent on a man for marriage and financial stability. Austen left a legacy behind after her death in 1817, and her novels are still widely popular today, with film and television adaptations of many of her novels. Pride and Prejudice is taught in most high schools across the country, and you can even take a course right here at UCSD dedicated entirely to the legendary novelist.

“I think I may boast myself to be, with all possible vanity, the most unlearned and uninformed female who ever dared to be an authoress” – Jane Austen

isabel allendeKnown as “the world’s most widely read Spanish-language author,” Isabel Allende is a Chilean-American writer known for her unique and vivid style of writing known as “magic realism.” Growing up in Latin America, Allende often highlights the lives and struggles of Hispanic women in many of her novels, drawing on her own experiences and critically examining the role of women in Latin American society, including novels such as Daughter of Fortune and Portrait in Sepia. Allende has received wide praise for her works and has won a variety of international awards such as Chile’s National Literature Prize, an induction into the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and the 2014 Presidential Medal of Freedom awarded to her by President Obama himself.

International Women’s Month: Women in Film & Television

By Rachel Birnam

“If there’s specific resistance to women making movies, I just choose to ignore that as an obstacle for two reasons: I can’t change my gender, and I refuse to stop making movies” – Kathryn Bigelow

lois weberAs actresses, writers, producers, directors, and so much more, women have influenced the film and television industries since the beginning. In honor of International Women’s Month and in light of the recent Oscar Awards, it’s time take a trip through Hollywood history and honor just of few of the many women who have shaped the film and television industries.

dorothy arznerEven in the early 1900’s, in the era of silent films and a predominantly male industry, women worked jobs both on and off screen. Lois Weber was one of the forefront female names in Hollywood, as a silent film actress, screen writer, producer, and director. Weber was a pioneer of film; directing, writing, and acting in over one hundred films. With films like Where Are My Children? Lois Weber tackled controversial issues such as birth control and alcoholism. Weber not only paved the way for women in Hollywood, but also served as a mentor to countless young women hoping for a career in the film industry. There is literally nothing this woman couldn’t do.

In the 1920’s, in the midst of the glitz and glamour of the jazz age, women were, unfortunately, underrepresented in Hollywood. Dorothy Arzner was one of the few women successfully working in the field as a film director. Hailing from San Francisco, California, Arzner worked as a director for Paramount Pictures. Her most notable film, The Wild Party, which was set at a women’s college and addressed themes of lesbianism, became the third highest grossing film of 1929.

laverne coxLaverne Cox, actress and producer, became the first transgender person to be nominated for an Emmy Award in an acting category for her work as Sophia Burest in the popular Netflix Series, Orange Is the New Black. Cox is an active LGBT advocate and Glamour Magazine’s 2014 Woman of the Year, who never fails to remind the world that it is okay to be yourself,

“We are not what other people say we are. We are who we know ourselves to be, and we are what we love. That’s OK.” – Laverne Cox

shonda rhimesShonda Rhimes, screenwriter, director, and producer who has dominated the television scene since the debut of Grey’s Anatomy in 2005. Known for her diverse cast and strong leading ladies, such as Scandal’s Kerry Washington, Grey’s Anatomy’s Ellen Pompeo, and How To Get Away With Murder’s Viola Davis, Shonda Rhimes is shattering every television “norm;” addressing racial inequality, gay rights, and feminism in almost every episode she writes. It’s no wonder that Thursday night Primetime television is now known as TGIT, or as I like to say, TGST (Thank Shonda It’s Thursday).

kerry washington“I work for a woman [Shonda Rhimes], who, because of her courage to step into her light, and step up and own her voice, has provided an opportunity for so many other women to soar in front of and behind the camera … When we step up for ourselves, we create opportunity.”-Kerry Washington

emma watsonEmma Watson, most commonly known as the brilliantly sassy Hermione Granger from the Harry Potter films, has recently become a feminist icon through her work as the UN Women’s Goodwill Ambassador and her newly launched campaign, HeForShe, promoting gender equality. Watson has traveled around the world; from Bangladesh to Uruguay, promoting education for women. She recently delivered a powerful speech on gender equality at the UN Headquarters in New York, announcing her HeForShe campaign, sparking feminist discussions all across social media and encouraging other celebrities, both male and female, to advocate for gender equality. She recently announced via Twitter that she will be hosting a livestream Q&A on International Women’s Day to discuss feminism. Get your questions ready!

Behind the glamour of Hollywood is hundreds of hard working, powerful, and successful women who are constantly breaking down barriers and fighting for gender equality in the film and television industries. Female celebrities are more commonly using their fame as an outlet to promote feminism and inspire and empower women around the world.

Learning to practice self love and self care

Finals are approaching and it is easy to lose yourself in a sea of existential crises, sleepless nights, and constant stress. However, it is more important now than ever to practice self love and self care! This is a difficult time, but by prioritizing and setting aside time for yourself, tackling life and its inconveniences can be much easier. 🙂

Name: Breanna
Year: 2nd

I think taking care of yourself is the first step to accomplishing anything great in your life. It sets the basis of a healthy, peaceful, productive mind and soul which will help you go further in anything that you do. As a part of self love/self care I practice meditation. Meditation for me is a practice that allows me to focus in on myself and calm my mind. It brings me to a peaceful state with myself and others, as well as gives me a different perspective on life. Meditation makes me realize that little things that upset me are trivial and shouldn’t affect my whole attitude or hinder my happiness. Meditation gives me the basis to not pass judgment upon myself or others, which is something that we don’t normally do in life. Meditating gives me the opportunity to focus in on myself and really look at how I’m feeling physically, emotionally, and spiritually. A lot of the time we think it is selfish to focus on ourselves, but it’s not. You need to do what’s best for you and meditation gives me the time to read myself and see what I need.

Name: Elizabeth
Year: 1st

Think about the kinds of things you’d say to your friend during these busy
times: “Make sure to eat! Stay hydrated! Get some rest! Take breaks!” Now think of yourself as being ‘your friend.’ Tell yourself those same things. Try your best to take care of yourself the way you’d want to take care of your friend.

Name: Natalie Wyss

I believe it is extraordinarily important to practice self-care and love. As much as we all place value on the affection of others towards us, often we forget that it is essential to love and care for ourselves. I know I often fail to give myself this type of attention in favor of paying attention to the madness of everyday life. My favorite way to take care of myself is beyond cliché, I know, but it works for me and so I stick with it. I detach from the world for a few hours, leave my phone at home, and walk to the beach. Sitting and embracing the ocean never fails to remind me of how small all the madness in my life is. I am reminded in these moments that even though my current situation may seem like the end of the world, life will go on and that I just need to go with the flow.

Name: Madeline Ocampo
Year: 2nd

I take part in self love/care by taking time to call my parents and brother. Once every couple of days I call them to see how they are doing and to tell them how I am doing. When it is the birthday of someone in my family or when I want to say “Thank You” I’ll send them a card to show
them I love and appreciate them. It makes me happy, and it helps me stayconnected with home.

Name: Carley Towne
Year: 4th

I might be the world’s most introverted introvert. Probably not, but I have had MANY conversations with my close family and friends that begin with the sentence “I just like that so much better when I’m by myself”

And I think a lot of the people I know would suprised to find out I’m very introverted. Often people think that because I have strong opinions that I’m not afraid to voice that I’m extroverted.
But at the end of a long day of classes and work, all I want to do is go back to my apartment, cook dinner, visit the cute dogs at the dog park, and watch some Netflix.

Making time to recharge is important for introverts like myself because I can only keep up with other people for so long.

There’s a famous Audre Lorde quote about the revolutionary act of self care. And I wholeheartedly agree. Because being raised as women in our patriarchal, white supremacist, capitalist society, we’re made to feel guilty if we’re not doing something productive or nurturing at every waking moment. It’s hard enough for me as a white cis gender woman to feel comfortable taking time to do things for myself that aren’t productive. Recognizing that doing so is essential to leading a well-rounded life is life-changing. Being cognisant of the fact that we only have one body, one mind, and one life to lead makes engaging in self-care necessary to sustaining ourselves.

So anytime I’m feeling drained I focus on the things that make me happy, including:

1. Looking up and bookmarking recipes (even though I know I won’t make half of them)
2. Sitting by myself and listening to my favorite music
3. Walking to the dog park near my apartment
4. Talking to my best friends
5. Reading some of my fav magazines (BITCH, The New Inquiry, etc)
6. Cloud gazing
7. Grabbing an iced latte
8. Hanging out with my pets whenever I get the chance

Which all might sound incredibly boring. But as long as they work for you, it’s worth it!

Name: Becca

Without taking time for yourself you can begin to lose connection with yourself. I
believe that self love and self care have helped me salvage my sanity throughout
college. While sometimes your self gets thrown to the wayside I believe it is of the
uttermost importance to have your moments to relax and unwind.

This may sound cheesy but I have found that sunsets on the beach as well as long
walks on the beach help calm my soul. They help me get in touch with nature and get
a fresh breeze on my face to help me through all my stresses. Just having alone time
to take in the beauty of the world around me really helps me take care of myself.

I also mediate when I am completely blocked and stressed from studying or essay
writing of some kind. I have found that meditation gives me time to let the
frustrations pass me by and clear my head to allow my energies to flow freely.

Living in a world that is wound so tightly and moving so quickly can be completely
overwhelming but I have found that taking a step back and enjoying the peace allows
us to give ourselves the love we deserve.

Name: Stephanie

How do I self-love and self-care? I look at myself and I learn from others.

Around Valentine’s Day, I went to a self-care and self-love event at the Cross Cultural Center that ended with a quote asking something along the lines of : If someone asked you to name all the things you love, how many would you list before you say yourself? That is what self-love is and it should definitely be put first in times when we give so much of ourselves away. Self-love to me is a beautiful appreciation of who you are. I think one of the things I’ve been doing for self-love is just simply agreeing with compliments that come my way. Things like saying: “Yes, I am a strong person” and “I am pretty clever” boost self-confidence a long way. Verbally or non-verbally, it makes you realize that affirmations can come from yourself anytime!

For self-care, naps are essential to me. Right in the afternoon between classes is really energizing but it’s important that they stay short (15-20 min) or else you’ll just feel groggy afterwards. In general, Taking a few deep breaths is magical and does wonders throughout the day. I think finding things I enjoy is just fun. I love finding cute text graphics with nice fonts. Small changes are interesting and spice up your day. I think switching my backgrounds and even color schemes is a nice twist.

Stay strong for the finals grind!

Name: Micaela Stone
Year: 2nd

I’m not going to lie, stress is something that has a huge effect on me. There have been plenty of times where I feel like I wasn’t going to be able to handle it or where I had the feeling of just wanting to quit. For me personally, at times stress is all consuming and all I can do is think about the negative and not move forward. However, the thing is, despite the stress and anxiety that I feel, I know that it isn’t the end of the world and that there is always people out there who can help and that care for me. I need to feel like I’m not alone in the world, then I can get back up and try again. Whenever I feel stressed (which unfortunately is most of the time), the number one thing that always helps me is taking a step back and detaching myself from the situation. I need to take step out of my shoes and that alone helps me so much. It allows me to see the situation from a different perspective.

When that doesn’t work, I like to do something that I learned at a leadership camp a few summers back, and that is Pause. Breath. Smile. By doing this I feel myself instantly relax and calm down. Paired with that I like to think positive thoughts and about things that make me happy because negative thoughts do not help at all.

Something to keep in mind is do something that makes you happy. It differs from person to person, but by doing something that makes you feel good, despite what other people think, can make all the difference. Only you have control of your life, so don’t less stress get you down. And always remember that you are an AMAZING person.

What was your “aha!” feminist moment?

To celebrate launching our brand new blog, we decided to go right back to where it all began! These women share the moment their feminist spark was ignited. A huge thank you to everyone who contributed!

Name: Gabriela De Jesus
Year: 2nd

My “AHA!” moment was when I was a freshman here on campus and got more informed about feminism. At first I was unsure of what that term meant, I did know it was related to gender equality but that is about it. Over the past months I have discovered why it is important to be aware of what it means to be a women and stand up for equal representation in society, instead of accepting the socially constructed ideas about men and women.

Name: Carley Towne
Year: 4th

I fucking love feminism. I fucking love talking about feminism to anyone and everyone that will listen. I fucking love reading about feminism, because there are so many insightful voices that contribute to a critical understanding of the world. The thing I love most about feminism, though, is the sense of solidarity and community the movement creates. And our constant re-negotiation of what feminism means.

I could probably point to my fresh(wo)man year in college when I first read Barbara Ehrenreich’s critique of scientific knowledge as a major turning point in my own feminist journey. It was my second quarter at UCSD and I just started our writing program. I was super jazzed about the class because I heard you talked about morality and got to voice your own opinion. I read Ehrenreich’s essay, and my life changed forever. I’d never encountered someone who questioned the knowledge that *Science* said was true about the way women’s and men’s bodies worked. Ehrenreich’s essay awakened an intense interest in the nature of knowledge and power in me to which I am eternally grateful.

But the reason I fucking love feminism so much is because it is less an ideology to me and more a relationship. So, my relationship with feminism has changed just as much as i’ve changed in my 21 years of life. I think i’ve had AHA moments throughout my life, because growing up as a girl can be rough. When I was five and I felt a sense of comfort amongst my fellow Daisy girl scouts. When I was eight and I was so upset that manatees might go extinct because of the hubris of humans, I adopted Dana the manatee, who herself had a very progressive understanding of what it meant to be a mother. When I was in middle school and I realized people judged me for the way I looked. When I was a junior in high school and I was called a bitch for voicing my opinion. When I was in college and I found solace in the community of feminists who could understand some of my most painful experiences.

Name: Rachel Birnam
Year: 3rd

The older I get, the more feminism has an influence on my life. It wasn’t until a few years ago that I truly began to get in touch with feminism, as I started to understand and experience the social injustice that women face on a daily basis. I have become more and more aware of the misogynistic tendencies that our society taught me at a young age to accept as “normal,” and have taken a stance against it. I can’t say that I have one specific feminist “aha!” moment; but rather, a series of moments.
When I realized, simply, that men and women do not share equal rights.
When one of my roommates goes out for a run at night, and the rest of us pull out our pepper spray and remind her to keep her keys between her knuckles, just in case.
When I talk about how feminism has empowered me as a women and it elicits eye rolls, laughs, and even “that’s cute” from men.
When slut shaming is considered the norm and rape is all too often a punch line of a joke.
When my feelings are trivialized and my thoughts belittled simply because I am a woman.
When I hope that my little sister never has to experience this social injustice that I know she inevitably will.
For me, my stance as a feminist is something that is still evolving. It has become a part of my identity and continues to grow as I surround myself with strong, powerful women, as well as men that support and advocate for feminism. I am proud to be a woman and I am proud to be a feminist, and even though my feminist “aha!” moments are not always positive, they continue to fuel my empowerment as a woman and motivate me to fight for gender equality.

Name: Micaela Stone

I had always believed that girls could do anything that guys could do. I was also told that I couldn’t do things because I was a girl. Being the way I am, I set out to prove everyone wrong. However, I didn’t really realize what being a feminist really was. It was a word that I hadn’t even heard of until I was sixteen. People often associate being a feminist with man-hating or putting women before everyone else. What people don’t realize is that it is simply the equality of both genders. That men and women can have the same opportunities, and that they can be paid with equal wages. Throughout high school, I had always heard feminism associated with negative connotations. Things like “you can’t do it because you’re a girl,” “maybe it was the way she was dressed that was asking for it,” “she’s such a slut.” Endless things like that from people I didn’t know, and people I was close too. Topics such as rape and abortion were taboo, because people honestly just assumed that women were asking for it. MALES AND FEMALES thought like this at my school. Here I was with, all these opinions, but I didn’t really know what they meant.
Even though unconsciously I had always been a feminist, I didn’t fully acknowledge myself as a feminist until I came to college. I was finally in a environment that wasn’t so toxic, so slut shaming. I could dress the way I wanted, I could say what I wanted, I could do what I want. I didn’t have to have people who were close to me, saying that I was dressed like a slut and to cover up (which someone who was very close to me in high school did say to me). I didn’t have to be objectified in front of my whole class for wearing shorts to school. I could finally say what I wanted to say without the worry of being ostracized. Yes, I still meet people who think differently that I do, that believe that women should be subservient to their partners and that a women’s place is in the house. But now I always tell my self, WHO THE HELL CARES. By embracing my beliefs, I found the confidence to work for the Planned Parent Action Fund, fighting for women’s rights. I was able to handle people calling me a baby killer and a horrible person, tell me that I’m going to hell, that I need Jesus, that I should be ashamed of what I was doing. I just looked people in the eye and told them I’m standing up for what I believe in. I can now say that I’m proudly a feminist. People may look at the word likes a swear word, think what they think about it, but to me that doesn’t matter. I am a feminist and I am proud to be one.

Name: Anonymous

The “AHA” hit me recently. I was sitting in class and our teacher was talking about the early movements for women’s equal rights. One of my favorite quotes from a woman who actively wrote, spoke and protested for women’s equality said, “Don’t make queens out of us.” This quote made me realize that all of the work, all of the struggles of the early women have been and continue to be counteracted by every societal structure set up. We ‘hail’ the women on magazines, in the movies and on stage making them our ‘queens’ but ignore the women in suits, the ones who are making a difference. Women in society are placed on this societal pedestal as soon as they go through puberty; they are seen as gentle, coy and powerless because of their gender. This idea places us as “queens” before we have even decided our path in life. While some women may chose not to use their power those who do are often labelled as bitchy. The stigma of a powerful women being a bitch needs to be shed and the idea that all women want is to be treated as queen needs to vanish. I believe that this quote struck me because it shows how women need not be made into queens but into human beings.

Name: Anonymous

It sounds a bit silly thinking about it now, but my “AHA” moment came out of my frustrations with the high school dating ritual.

Like many young, hopeful teenage girls, I was in the mindset that winning over my crush would have unlocked the ultimate life achievement. Together my gal pals and I would scheme over what cute new clothes to wear, what flirtatious comments to shyly drop, basically how to ask someone out without really asking someone (because Heaven forbid we break the patriarchal mating standards)

On the opposite spectrum, my guy friends had similar ambitions but their attitudes toward the situation (as I now realize) were out of line.

“Being a guy sucks, we have to do all the work by ourselves!”

“Ugh, I can’t believe I’ll have to pay for everything”

“Why do I have to open the door, huh??”

Before, I was just annoyed. Honestly, I did all those things and I was a girl. At the time I thought they were being, well, stupid teenage boys.

I began to question why did one gender have certain perceived responsibilities over another, and if there was so much resentment, why didn’t they just like go “hey, this is unfair! we should be equal!”

Little did I know, that a larger force called patriarchy was not only creating narrow standards for women, but men as well.

So that’s pretty much the turning point where brutally honest 17 year old [ANONYMOUS] started challenging her guy friends.

“Um, okay what do you actually mean by “all” and “ourselves”

“Well, can’t you just like ask to split the bill?”

“Dude, that’s not a “guy” thing. It’s called being ‘polite’ so can you not”

By refusing to accept these standards, I opened a new world for myself and began to explore what being a feminist could mean for me. The core value of feminism for me has and always will be equality for men and women.

Sometimes I feel as if people neglect the “male” aspect of it because of patriarchy’s overbearing power.

But you’ve got to change the standards for both if you want true feminism.

Name: Erika Gonzalez
Year: The Preuss School UCSD

My feminist “A-HA!” moment was probably in in the middle of 2014, close to June, while I was on twitter. Always’ ‘Like a Girl’ commercial video popped up on my timeline as an ad and I decided to watch it. I knew that doing something like a girl was taken in a negative way and I always snapped back with “What’s wrong being a girl,” so seeing the title of the video intrigued me. The video asks girls and boys what it means to do something “Like a girl” and the kids would respond. When the video was done, I read the comments and one of them said “This is what feminism is about.” I had only known about the word ‘feminism’, but I never took the time to learn about it or do any research on it, it was just a regular word to me. However, being much older than before, I searched feminism on twitter and got lot of tweets about misogyny, gender identity, and patriarchy, etc. All these words were new to me, so I googled the definitions of the words and when I knew what they meant, I did even more research on feminism and what it was all about; I used Tumblr, Twitter, blogs on feminism, and bought a couple books about feminism. I fell in love with it all; it had words that described situations that I had been in that I didn’t even think there were words for. It was all new, but it made me really happy to know that there was a movement to empower girls and educate people about gender identity, women’s rights, and the portrayal of women in the media. I spent my summer learning and reading about feminism and international movements. By the end of the summer I knew I was a feminist and wanted to work in a career that emphasized feminism.

Name: Damare Kinley

My AHA Feminist moment was when I was talking to my friend over the phone and we were talking about our future ideal relationship.  He stated that he wants to be the provider for his family while his wife stays at home to cook and clean. I asked him why he wanted that for the future and he responded by saying that it is the way society is supposed to be where the man is the bread winner and is   supposed to be in control of the relationship. As a feminist I told him what would happen if the roles were reversed and how he would he feel if he had a daughter and her husband told her that. When he heard my rebuttal  he was hesitant to defend his argument because I challenged him in a way that no one had ever done before.

Name: Sulochana Marpadga
Year: 2nd

When did I realize I was a feminist? I felt it when I was just eight years old and teased for having hair in places besides the top of my head. I felt it when I was twelve and wasn’t allowed to wear makeup or shorts while all my friends did, and when I could tell I really didn’t look like them, but that didn’t bother me much then. I felt it when I was thirteen and watched the women at our family parties serve the men, and when I refused to do so, I was seen as unfit to be a woman and someone’s eventual wife. I felt it when I was fourteen and joined my high school’s male-dominated debate team and had to work twice as hard for the next four years to have my ideas heard and recognized. I felt it when I was fifteen and was told by math tutor that I wasn’t doing well because men are “naturally better” at math. I felt it when I was sixteen and was told that “I could be just as pretty as [insert female friend’s name] if I wore makeup and learned how to tame my hair,” but I had never thought I was doing anything wrong until then. I felt it when I was seventeen and going on a rant that involved a plethora of cuss words, and my male friend told me that I was scaring him and I wasn’t being very ladylike. I knew it when I was eighteen and in college and learned the true definition of feminism–not a movement to hate males or reject traditional notions of “femininity,” as shaped by the media, but rather one to empower all women and fight for equality. I am sure of it now, at nineteen, as I go through each day challenging myself and those around me about the way I view the world. Being a feminist has given me the opportunity to be stronger and more confident in my identity as a woman and in the choices I make.

Name: Anonymous

My feminist “aha” moment came during my freshman year of high school even though I didn’t really realize it at the time. I signed up to take a programming class to fulfill one of my requirements. When the bell rang and the teacher started to take roll on the first day of class, I soon realized that I was the only girl in the class. The male teacher would always come to me first asking if I had any questions and frequently asked if I needed extra help. I decided I didn’t want to be pitied on, so I ended up working a lot at home reading more on the class material and ended up acing the class!

While I ended up not pursuing computer science, I did end up going into a STEM-related field. My friends and roommates in college were usually STEM majors, and frequently they would tell me they were also the only woman or one out of a small handful in a class full of men. It wasn’t until I realized during my later years of college, that pursuing a STEM major also meant sometimes having to pursue a higher degree afterwards such as a Masters, a PhD, or MD. This meant another two to eight years of school, and during a time that many people believe is “critical” for a woman to marry and start raising a family. Who’s to say when a woman should raise a family or why she should sacrifice a successful career doing something she is passionate about? While I have only just started volunteering at the Women’s Center so far, I hope I can help to empower other women by breaking society’s stereotypes through awareness and self-discovery while also learning more about feminism myself!

Name: Stephanie Chang

One of my femtors started a hashtag #beforeIwasanactivist. I was reading through the comments that her friends put and was unfortunately agreeing with most of the statements. And yet, most of these statements had 10+ likes! I began to seriously wonder what part of the picture I was missing, for this fantastic group of people to all come to a consensus on such controversial topics. The one statement that stood out to be the most was “#beforeIwasanactivist I thought ‘you’re not like other girls’ was a compliment.” I think during most of my youth I had tried to distinguish myself as unique. I actively tried not to conform to the idea of “girly,” as if by doing so would automatically make me just as good as the guys. In my “aha” moment I realized that the concept of “other girls” was oversimplified and stereotyped and that simply identifying with my gender was somehow made to a bad thing. It was this moment that I noticed how systemic all this sexism really was. So, #beforeIwasanactivist I was completely blind to all the microagrressions of sexism in my life that even I sometimes perpetuated myself.

Name: Liza Lukasheva
Year: 4th

Name: Liza Lukasheva

Year: Senior

Submission Title: I was taught poetry

I was taught poetry
As a child I was taught poetry
the quiet writing of feelings reflections
often in a beat with a rhyme and a few examples of alliteration

I was taught that as a woman my feelings
should be hid and kept quiet
that when I liked a boy it was not my place
to ask him whether he liked me back
I was taught to look out for myself by not dressing slutty
not walking home late at night
I was taught that my curvy figure would make people
question my morals my virginity my character
I was taught that as a girl I won’t be as successful in math or science
I was taught to give myself to other pursuits
in liberal arts or domestic dealings
I was taught that even if by some miracle I found success in the fields where I “wouldn’t be successful”
that I would and should give it up in a heart beat to raise a family
I was taught that I must share my feelings
my emotions my struggles
but not in a loud and open way

I had to remain quiet cool composed

Poetry was to be my outlet, written in couplets sonnets and verse
quiet and held inside written on paper
stored away from the world
to be read inside the mind
by others- men, teachers, parents
in order to decode me
and learn how to


This was really my first coming out moment as a feminist when I wrote this poem, I had recognized the injustices before the kids making fun of me in middle school for the hair that I did not shave, and in the way that my mother who taught me to be a strong womxn told me that i need to tone down my outgoing and bubbly personality for guys to like me. But I didn’t really connect until this poem flowed out of my fingers now I am a feminist. I keep up with what injustices are being done in the world and try to bring the issue to light one person at a time even if i can’t make everyone see my point of view maybe i can stop them from saying one negative sexist thing and that’s already a change for the better.