External Formulas to Self-Authorship

One of the first books I read in graduate school was Marcia Baxter Magolda’s Learning Partnerships. In this book, Baxter Magolda introduces the idea of self-authorship and explains how to support students becoming the authors of their own lives. I particularly enjoyed reading this book—even though it left me sleepless many nights—because it let me reflect on my undergraduate life. It brought back many memories, but if I had to pick the most salient one, without a doubt, it would be becoming a Women’s & Gender Studies major.

The very first stage of Baxter Magolda’s self-authorship model is external formulas. This stage reminded me of my first year of college, when I took the introductory Women’s & Gender Studies course. I took it because I had to take one more class for credit hours, and it fulfilled a general education requirement. So I thought, why not? At first, I did not know what to think of the class because I was biased against feminism. Why? Because people told me so. It was convenient back then because I did not have to think much about how I know what I know or why I do what I do. Well, feminism brought in a new chapter in my life, and I was never the same after taking Women’s & Gender Studies courses.

I quickly found myself at the crossroads, Baxter Magolda’s second stage towards self-authorship. As I started seeing the world from a feminist perspective, I could not go back to where I was before because it challenged me to stop and question ‘it is what it is.’ Countless questions followed, and I did not know how to bear my frustration towards the world. After all, this world ain’t so perfect. What do you do when everything you believed in does not hold the “truth” anymore?

Now that I think about it, I found the “truth” within myself as I got engaged in ending and preventing interpersonal violence against women and girls. The truth was that this gendered world is hurting people and that I need to do something about it. Having many women in my life who experienced violence against them, this was personal to me. As I questioned myself about why interpersonal violence is considered a women’s issue, I realized that it is, in fact, everyone’s issue. This further motivated me to engage men in interpersonal violence prevention. I ended up doing research on the subject and presenting at the United Nations Commission of the Status of Women conferences. There, I felt like I reached self-authorship and came to a realization that this cause is something I am happy to dedicate my life to.

I thank feminism for opening my eyes and empowering me to exercise my citizenship and change the world as much as I can. After all, feminism is the reason I am an author of my own life. Now that I am in graduate school for higher education and student affairs, I get to support a new generation of college students to develop as the authors of their lives.

Well then, enough about me. How did feminism empower you?