If I Believe You: A Feminist Awakening

ASU Author/Contributor (non-ASU co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Caroline E. Turner (Creator)
Appalachian State University (ASU )
Web Site: https://library.appstate.edu/
Kathryn Kirkpatrick

Abstract: I was a strong child. As family members describe me, “You were always doing a job, making sure everything went according to plan.” Now, I smile in recognition. I was a determined child too, who in some cases, was fueled by being told I would not be able to finish the task I had set out to do. I can remember at a young age convincing my parents to let me buy a Nintendo Wii. They agreed that if I had the money to pay for it, Dad would take me to Walmart so I could buy it. We were up all-night counting change from my piggy bank. The next day, we walked into the store carrying Ziploc bags of quarters, dimes, nickels, and pennies, calculated to the exact amount with tax already figured out. I was a determined child. Now, I see that throughout our childhoods, we are impacted by everything which surrounds us. From television shows, movies, video games, the books we read, and the people who have shaped us as we grow up, we are influenced to perceive the world in a way which validates our own existence and interests. In creating our perceptions, we also create varying understandings of our world between different individuals. However, as we get older those perceptions, though shaped by many, shift to become personalized based on the individual. In my life, I would argue that I have been shaped most by mentors and the language and methods they used to help me to grow into the person I am today. Reflecting on these things, I begin to see the structures behind the language and the relationships these individuals shared with me. These are the relationships that have led me to the degree I am working towards as an undergraduate and culminate in this thesis. As someone who has tried to become an advocate for others, I have had to learn and recognize the extent to which the systems in our world were created and have been solidified as systems of oppression. I would argue that the system we see most as part of the power structure is language. As children, we were taught, “sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can never hurt me.” As we get older, we begin to recognize that this statement is not true. Language is a system which is ingrained in our society and is used as a way for us, as individuals, to define ourselves and our world as it aligns with our ideas. Amanda Montell reminds readers that language is part of a system of oppression through our patriarchal, androcentric society (Montell 5): “every part of our speech—our words, our intonation, our sentence structures—is sending invisible signals telling other people who we are. In the wrong hands, speech can be used as a weapon. But in the right ones, it can change the world” (Montell 3). For Montell, because language is not tangible and is often unrecognized as an oppressive system, it does not get analyzed as thoroughly as other oppressive systems have in recent years.

Additional Information

Honors Project
Turner, C. (2021). If I Believe You: A Feminist Awakening. Unpublished Honors Thesis. Appalachian State University, Boone, NC.
Language: English
Date: 2021
Creative Writing, Feminism, Poetry

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