Tracy L. Smith
This essay was inspired by a trek to the Association for Women in Psychology (AWP) Conference. It is dedicated to my
feminist discussion group friends and colleagues. Over the past year, we were present for one another’s journey through
development of our individual feminist identity. At the conference, we all presented our journeys together.
A woman stands tall and breathes a deep sigh from the misty air. She listens to the water rippling
and flowing, as if a symphony of beauty is emanating from the intensity of the waterfalls. The
water’s force is visable from her inside view. Her feet and lower body immerse in the flowing streams
as if she is connected to the magnitude and multitude of the intersecting falls. She tastes the sweetness
of each waterfall, and realizes that each one represents a part of her, each dimension has transformed
her way of being woman. She closes her eyes, overwhelmed by her feelings of connection to women;
the past, present, and future seem to merge. Her eyes remain effortlessly closed. There is silence
amidst the power of the rushing water. She realizes that her way of being, her feminist lens through
which she views the world, is not only for herself but for others as she shares her identity, taking
others on a similar journey.
A voice suddenly interrupts the silence, asking, ” What does this look like, so I may know too?”
She opens her eyes, looks toward the magnificent waterfalls, and speaks, “This path – the one I know –
arose from my experiences as a girl, as a woman. I believe these experiences are interwoven within
my transformation to an empowered woman. You, too, will know when you find your voice.”
The woman reflects on her life, development, and ever-changing way of being. The thoughts she
finds resonate within her, conjuring the feminist and non-feminist people who have shaped her way of
being through their intimate interactions with her. Outcries of ANGER, SADNESS, SISTERHOOD,
and PASSION, all meld her way. The girl and woman she remembers being before had always
known something did not fit, did not fit with how the world related to her. She knew that something
seemed wrong, unbalanced, seemed forced, constrained. She knows that being given this energy and
power has importance for her- but what is it? Is it a calling? Something she is to do? Is it spiritual?
Something for others not just herself?
Even though the waterfalls speak, they do not have answers, they only know what feels right. These
feelings without answers show the woman the importance of embracing new ways of understanding
feminism – new ways of understanding how feminism empowers women, women-women much like