On Feather Boas

A BA Woman

BA Women's Words

September 6, 2019

Each week a BA Woman contributes to our BA Women's Words—a bloglette posted on Friday mornings where we tackle gendered issues to advance the educational, personal, and professional development of women who seek to make a difference in the world. 

Read on for EmpowHERing words by confident women living dynamic, complex lives. Have something to explore, share, declare, or celebrate with us?
Let us know contributing your ideas here

B.A. Rudolph (the namesake of the BA Women's Alliance) lived life as "an adventure, and she invited—required—her friends to participate." She is remembered for her professional acumen as much as her habit of donning a feather boa; simply put, she was fabulous. Knowing, or even just knowing of, B.A. somehow gives me permission to be more authentically me. To live life on my terms. To take risks. To laugh louder than I'm "supposed' to.

B.A. was beloved not in spite of her individuality, but because of it. The same can be true for me. But being fully me can be scary because the courage to be truly me is sometimes overwhelmed by thoughts of "but what if they don't like me." Worse yet, the bravery I've called upon to be authentically me is sideswiped by the reality that who I am is often censored in the workplace and—at its worst—invokes negative or even violent reactions from those whose authentic selves are different than mine.

That is, for many, the fewer privileges you hold, the harder it can be to be fully yourself. For example, the very fact of womanhood means missing out on promotions at work and an increased risk of sexual violence, both in the office and out. This is even more true for women of color. For example, African American women are habitually underpaid and underpromoted, which correlates to real and perceived bias. Being yourself, at work or otherwise, is aspirational (and I aspire to it!) but it comes with more risks for some of us than others.

So what's a BA Woman to do? Muster courage? Feign bravery? What I offer is this: seek and create spaces where your truest self is honored and celebrated. Meanwhile, learn more about communities that are different from your own. And, if you're from a community with privilege, work to create not just safe spaces but brave spaces, where respect for one another's basic personhood is central.

In other words, keep sporting those feather boas. You're fabulous.

Being authentically me,

A BA Woman

A BA Woman is a member of our community who has a perspective to share, ideas to spread, and words worth hearing. She's tenacious, compassionate, and lifts as she climbs. She's totally BA. She could be anyone—her words are relatable because she gets us like no one else.

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