Most people know Rebecca Somer ’15 from her speeches at All School Meetings, or from her day to day involvement at Andover. As Student Body Co-President, she has presented an active and dynamic example of female leadership on campus. We had the chance to talk with her about her personal experiences with feminism at this school.
Outside of Andover, what does home look like for you?
I am from Falls Church, Virginia, which is just outside of Washington, D.C. I live with my parents and two, younger siblings. My sister, Emma, is 16 and my brother, Jacob, is 14. A sort of fun fact about me is that my mother is from Russia, and I would say that I live in a relatively Russian household (in other words, we eat a lot of meat, potatoes, and soup and speak in Russian sometimes).
As co-president, you are a very strong female leader on campus. What were some of the challenges you faced last year, during the rather competitive elections?
I think the most challenging part of the election was learning how to work with David. I was extremely stressed and controlling, while he was calm and collected throughout the process, which drove me a little crazy! I did not even realize how much of a perfectionist I was until the election process. Fortunately, we have both grown immensely and have developed much better communication. For anyone who runs in the future, I would say communication is key! You have to be 100% honest about everything, and if you do not agree, you need to talk it out. Good communication helps you develop that natural trust that you need when working with someone.
Do you think gender played a role?
I definitely felt as though I had to be more conscious about how people saw me. You have to act a certain way in order to not be perceived as “too aggressive” in a female leadership role.
In addition to acting as our co-president, you are also a varsity wrestler. Do you think you were affected by gender biases in terms of prejudice or discrimination when it came to wrestling?
I think every girl should try wrestling or at least something along those lines. Every girl should push themselves to do something completely outside of their gender role. Actually, everyone should try to do so. In the process, you learn how you’ve been conditioned to think or act a certain way, and you get to work on training your brain to think outside the box you’ve been put in. When I joined wrestling, I faced the greatest prejudice from my family. They gave me an extremely hard time for joining a “boys” sport. They said that I will develop male features and “seem like a lesbian.” It was really painful to hear how unaccepting they were. I think this time in my life made me a much stronger person and helped me better understand my values. To do wrestling, as a male, female, or however you identify yourself, you must have a certain level of confidence in yourself and you must be brave. That is all. It’s ridiculous that believing in yourself and desiring to take risks are qualities for only males and lesbians according to some people.
Lastly, what advice would you give to the people reading this article?
Do what makes you happy. For example, if you are part of a club (even if you’re on the board) and you have stopped enjoying it, quit. There is not enough time in the day to fill it with extra stresses.
Also, take some time every day for yourself. Like 30 min or an hour of T.V., tumblr, music, journaling, meditation, whatever. Do it alone and use it to have fun and explore who you are.
Those are the two things that I have had to constantly remind myself during my time at PA.