It took me a while to watch Emma Watson's HeForShe speech, while I read numerous articles, tweets and blogs I hadn't tried to watch it. I should have and so should you. I've included it below for your ease of reference.
It was strange watching her speech about how when she was eight years old she was considered "bossy" because she wanted to be involved in the directing of the plays for her parents and that struck a cord because I was that girl too. I was told throughout my childhood that I was bossy for one simple reason, I wanted to be heard.
This got me thinking, when I was growing up I was told how bossy when I probably should have been told that I have a great ability to be a leader. So as I grew older, while still somewhat bossy, I pulled back a little. I allowed my older brother to lead based on those two reasons he was older than me and he was a boy. It took me 24 years before I pushed myself out of the role of little sister into individual, feminist, equal opportunist when I went to law school. There had been a lot of things I had endured before that time. I was already a holder of my Bachelor of Law and Master of Law degrees, I had completed my articles of clerkship (or internship for non South African readers) and yet I still felt the need to be heard.
When I attended Law School everything changed for me, I was suddenly more vocal (somewhat like I was growing up) but instead of people saying to me I am trying to "boss them around" they said I was a good leader. I was good at taking control and responsibility where others would have rather opted to complete the next six months of our lives without getting to know anyone else around them. I organised events and causes for us to get excited, make a movement and for everyone to be heard.
Those six months awaken the nine-year old Natalie who had learned to be submissive. She was back and she wanted to take on the world. While the world is still on my to do list, it is moments like watching this video to and making improvements in mine and other people's lives that has pushed me to say that although I have a long way to go before I reach all my dreams, the fact that I am a female will not be the reason to hold me back.
So I will continue to push myself and others to give their opinions (even if it is different to mine), push against the norms which have attempted to keep all woman down. There is a way for us to be respectful of our cultures and families without disrespecting ourselves and our greater purpose.