451. Channeling Outrage, She Empowers Women
At ten-years-old Ellen was at a ballet with her parents and witnessed a dance that portrayed inexplicable violence against women that angered and puzzled her. Her mother could not answer her questions about what she felt. In hindsight, she realizes how this moment has driven her career and passion for more than a quarter of a century.
Ellen Antonelli has taught Women’s Studies for 25 years, marched for women’s and human rights—she participated in the Million Women’s March at the inauguration in January—and is the author of “Dancing on Our Fathers’ Feet: Why Our Deepest Beliefs Are Rooted in Myth and How It Makes Us All Crazy.”
How Did You Start Using Your Talents?
“I am interested in so many things, it was very difficult for me to settle on one career. It felt stifling to have to choose just one. Some of the other things I was interested in—being a pilot or a veterinarian—I was told I couldn’t do, because I was a woman. So, I became a teacher. Although I never really thought of myself as a teacher, it was a good platform for me because I had a level of autonomy within the classroom, and I needed that. I needed to feel that I could do what I wanted, and teach the things I wanted to teach.”
The Most Impactful Turning Point?
“When I was 10 years old, my parents took me to a ballet. In the middle of the ballet, for whatever reason, there was a modern dance, featuring a female dancer and six male dancers. The male dancers performed a dance in which they raped the woman. I didn’t know anything about sex, but I knew instinctively what was happening. I remember asking my mother, ‘Why did the men do that?’ She looked at me and said, ‘I don’t know, honey. I don’t know.’ I felt such anger! I have spent my life dedicated to empowering women, and speaking up for them. Ultimately, that’s why I ended up teaching women’s studies, and that’s why I ended up writing my book, ‘Dancing on Our Fathers’ Feet.’”
The Most Powerful Lessons Learned?
“Honestly, I don’t think I’ve ever had to do anything to keep the fire going. It’s just a part of who I am. As a teacher, you have to constantly be learning, so I’ve always read everything I could get my hands on, always with a focus towards the spiritual journey and empowering women. But it’s not only about reading. I marched in lots of protests for human rights and for women’s rights. I teach my students about questioning authority and not just accepting at face value the things people have told them. Those are the important lessons I taught.”
Steps to Success from Ellen Antonelli
1. Learn to trust yourself—your intuition—by experimenting and testing.
2. The more you practice trusting your intuition, the more you can rely on it to guide your life.
3. Get out into nature often. My daily meditation is my jog.
4. Treat yourself to reading and reflecting on the writings of William Wordsworth, Samuel Taylor Coleridge and the transcendentalists.
Connecting With Ellen Antonelli
Facebook: FB page for book: https://www.facebook.com/dancingonourfathersfeet/?ref=aymt_homepage_panel
Sign up on website, www.ellenantonelli.com, to receive Ellen’s weekly blog by email.
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