Women and Power
A Women’s History Month Feature for the Victory (student-run newspaper/Journalism Club)
By: Nicole Beach, Mia Nunez, and Isella Perea
What does it mean to be a woman? Each women has their different interpretations and assumptions that hold power to that truth, but to be a woman is to simply make a stand and have one’s voice be heard. Each women has had their share of trials and tribulations, triumphs and defeats, but it’s the strength and perseverance to get up and keep going through those tribulations and defeats that give one true power and that hold true meaning. One teacher in particular, Erin Cunnea, English, Movement and Dance, and Theater teacher at De La Salle Institute is a powerful woman.
Before coming to De La Salle, Cunnea attended Loyola University for four years where she received her degree in secondary education, a bachelors in English, and received a minor in theatre. “I have been lucky enough to have experiences in directing and assistant directing, choreographing, and producing shows since I’ve been in eighth grade and then through college,” said Cunnea. She was hired at De La Salle to be the theatre program director and to teach English II to sophomores for College Preparatory and Lasallian College Preparatory students. At the end of her first year, she was able to implement a Movement and Dance class which ties in art and physical education together.
Cunnea herself has two major inspirations: her mother and her partner. “My mother is my biggest inspiration. She is a positive and upbeat person and growing up she has reinvented herself and I love her energy and her optimism especially as a woman of faith,” stated Cunnea. “I’m also really inspired by my partner. She is wonderful at centering balance. I’m the type of person to be called by negative people and it would affect the different aspects in my life. So, my partner helps me keep that balance in my life,” said Cunnea. According to Cunnea, her mother and her partner have made a huge impact on her life and the way she sees the world. Being able to have somebody in one’s corner who truly loves and appreciates them and will give their support no matter what is something really essential and vital especially during this time in the world where everything isn’t how it used to be. Counting on someone is a beautiful thing and very beneficial in a lot of ways than people realize.
Cunnea takes a lot of pride in being a woman. “Being a woman for me means the involuntary and inescapable need to deal with patriarchal and societal norms placed upon people who are female presenting. It means inclusivity and watching out for one another because everyone who presents as female is bombarded by society in similar ways,” stated Cunnea. Cunnea went on to say that being a woman means supporting each other and celebrating each other’s accomplishments. Even though Women’s History Month celebrates women as a whole, it is important to remember all the different identities a woman can have. “We are women of color, we’re women who are white women, we’re queer women, we’re straight women,” stated Cunnea. Regardless of how a woman looks or how people perceive her, women always support each other.
Cunnea says that one of the hardest things that women face is “Being kept out of the conversation.” When women aren’t allowed a seat at a table it makes it hard for them to climb up the ladder in their workplace. If they’re kept out of conversations then you can’t expect them to continue to grow and succeed. “Workplace discrimination, and harassment,” is a huge problem that women face. If women are continued to be pushed off to the side, and not have the same opportunities as men, they won’t know what that is like to be in charge.
Cunnea mentions Kamala Harris, as a prime example of a woman who represents inclusivity. Not only is Kamala Harris a woman, but a woman of color in the white house. When kids grow up seeing someone that looks like them in a high position of power, it gives them more hope for their future. Society has an impact on women’s self-image as they get older. “Beauty is a standard and not seeing themselves (older women) represented. If we’re taught all of life that beauty means youth then what are we supposed to think for ourselves when we’re older?” stated Cunnea. If brands start making wrinkles and stretch marks normalized by including people that have those things in their marketing, then it’ll encourage women to embrace them and not be ashamed.
Cunnea has inspiring advice that women of any age can relate too. “Find what you love, do it with passion, continue to work hard, and ignore what other people say, if their criticism is not wanted or kind,” stated Cunnea.
Photo credit: Nicole Beach ’22