My Feminist Legacy

By: Shoshanah Marcus  |  May 12, 2022

By Shoshanah Marcus, Editor in Chief

“God, she’s such a feminist” is a statement I have been hearing my entire life from family, peers, and even friends. Though these people intended on using this remark as an insult, I always found it extraordinarily empowering. 

One of my favorite assignments during my time at Yeshiva University was in Dr. Nachumi’s “Introduction to Women’s Studies” course in which students were tasked with defining feminism and then choosing if they alligned with this movement. My definition, after intensely studying the history and the culture behind it, was quoting bell hooks’  “Feminist Politics” which explained, “Simply put, feminism is a movement to end sexism.” 

As a woman working in the science and medical field, I have been looked down upon by male counterparts, been called a nurse in a demeaning tone (nurses are essential members of any medical team and therefore I am not even sure why that should be an insult), and even have been questioned by my family if I could be a good mother and wife while pursuing such a demanding career.

Coming from a co-ed high school, I was saturated with the notion that I needed to work harder than my male peers to prove my worth. My time at Stern, however, has allowed me to appreciate the female experience. Being in all-women classes has been incredibly empowering because there was no need to prove ourselves to anyone other than ourselves. Taking advantage of every opportunity, I was able to rise into a position of leadership and responsibility as Editor in Chief of the YU Observer. I have borne witness to eye-opening stories from my peers, including the experience in aiding Ukrainian refugees, calls to change the pre-med culture, stories from an IDF veteran, how weight is the least interesting thing about us, neurodiversity representation, and so much more. Personally, I have had the opportunity to reflect on important topics, such as sparking much-needed conversations at YU, mental health for front line health workers, and the importance of losing and leaning into the unknown.

If we are truly to eliminate sexism, as feminism strives to do, it is equally important that gender not be taken into account when assigning a position, an aspiration which I carefully and consciously aspired to maintain throughout my decision in appointing the Observer‘s first ever male Editor in Chief. Each application I reviewed was examined with the same level of scrutiny as the others, judged by the quality and promise of its content alone, entirely irrespective of the applicant’s gender. This year, it just so happened that the application deemed most qualified for the role was held by a man. Upholding my feminist beliefs, this made no impact on my decision to appoint him. Yes, women are faced with unique obstacles solely because of their gender that must be addressed. But, I would argue that in a paper founded by women and, until now, only run by women, it takes a true feminist to rise up to be the one who can put both genders on an equal playing field.

Making an active decision at the start of the COVID pandemic to embrace every opportunity that came my way led me to undertaking one of the most impactful roles in my life: Editor in Chief of the Observer. I desired to break free from the voices that held me back from achieving any greater version of myself. I would like to take this opportunity to extend thanks to all those who allowed me to pursue this incredible endeavor.

First and foremost, I must thank the most incredible Managing Editor, Danielle Lane. My only condition for undertaking this role was to have a decent Managing Editor, and you far exceeded any expectations I may have had. Your willingness to go above and beyond in every aspect of this paper is remarkable. I admire you as a colleague and as a friend. I know you will go on to significantly impact the world.

It goes without saying that this paper has the most energetic, outspoken, and talented staff– from our news, features, opinions, science & technology, arts & culture, and business editors to our layout, website, business, and social media managers. I cannot thank each of you enough for all you have invested into this paper.

I have tremendous gratitude for my family and friends for their continued support. My amazing husband, Daniel, has been my backbone since I met him but especially in the past year as I, as he puts it, “was the chief of the paper.” He can certainly attest to the level of commitment I experienced in leading the paper; from countless dinner interruptions to “I promise I will be done editing in 5 minutes,” his unwavering patience and support has allowed me to achieve more than I can ever have hoped. My parents have been a source of inspiration and encouragement in all my endeavors, especially the ones that convince them to replace hundreds of plastic containers and bottles with reusable ones.

Finally, I want to extend tremendous thanks to God for giving me the inspiration to begin and the strength to carry on.

Looking to the future for the Observer, I am optimistic. I hope that you, the readers of this tremendous publication, feel inspired to read the stories that you would have never expected and look forward to the stories that have yet to be told.