When I was 8 or 9 years old, I hadn’t yet read the words of Betty Friedan. I didn’t know about Gloria Steinem, and it would be years before I understood Roe vs. Wade or the pay gap.
I had only one concept of feminism, and it came in the form of one Jessica Spano.
Jessie Spano, Bayside High School’s greatest activist, was the first and only feminist icon I’d appreciate until high school. She could be problematic and man she had wretched taste in men, but she spoke to the baby feminist inside of me, and today I’d like to celebrate her. VIVA LA JESSIE!
For one thing, you could tell she was a feminist because she wore a lot of menswear and largely eschewed form-fitting typically feminine garb. Our kind was simple to spot in the ’90s.
She was also a constant foil for her chauvinist boyfriend, Slater (who never seemed to learn his lesson, btdubs).
DEATH TO SLATER.
She was an activist for all kinds of other issues, too.
But that doesn’t mean she wasn’t prone to the same issues a lot of teen girls struggle with.
She could put men in their place all day.
By informing them of important historical events.
But it didn’t always help matters.
Sometimes, life was hard for Jessie. Like that short-lived pill addiction.
But there was no denying she was the talented one.
And she taught a generation of young girls to stand up to dumb boys.
And she taught us all what really mattered.
You go, Mama.
I’m sorry. You go, Jessie. We’re happy we know you. All of you.