Watch out, Lafayette. The F-bomb is about to be dropped. Feminism. Oh, yes I hear the grumbling and moaning now. Something caught my attention this week: I was in a class with Professor Paul Cefalu and he asked us what was our student body’s reaction was when we heard the word “feminism.”
The first thoughts I had were, this is a progressive liberal arts college, of course people are receptive to feminism. Or maybe that was just me and my bias coming from a liberal upbringing and attending an all-girls high school that drilled high ideals of feminism into my mind. Is feminism such a scary word? All it means is the belief in the equality of gender in all aspects. Yet, somehow this word is tabooed. It’s misinterpreted as aggressive, crass or worst of all, man-hating. If you’re a feminist, you can’t possibly believe in chivalry. If you’re a feminist, you can’t be a romantic. If you’re a feminist, you’ve never had a marriage board on Pinterest.
These notions are all false. In fact, a feminist should just be something we involve in our political and religious lingo. I’m a libertarian, a feminist, a Christian. How is “feminist” any scarier than “democrat”, “conservative republican”, or “Buddhist?” It simply should not be. It is a mere label of beliefs. Why, as college students, does it scare us to talk about feminism? And why is it so unattractive for a woman to call herself so? Maybe because it’s too big of a topic to discuss. It’s like a buzz-kill akin to the phrase, “let’s talk about STD testing.” It opens up a can of worms that the average college student–non-political, non-activist, simply doesn’t have the time to deal with. I’m fortunate, because I have an outlet to discuss some women’s issues in my weekly column while most people don’t have a few hours a week to think about feminism.
Lately, there have been a few questions I’ve been wanting to ask the student body like, what does a feminist look like? If you’re a man do you consider yourself a feminist? Is it emasculating to be a man and be a feminist? Joseph Gordon-Levitt is a self-named feminist. And damn–that’s hot! I’ve found it shocking that while feminism provokes a larger political conversation and one that involves popular culture—take Patricia Arquette’s recent Oscar speech, we as a college community choose to ignore the topic. We do this even though it is transparent that there is some level of anti-feminist activities in our community—ie: allowing fraternity houses to have alcohol on their premises for 21 and overs, but not sororities—or the fit of laughter that broke out at the “like a girl” commercial during the Superbowl.
While feminism is a topic that can hardly be discussed in one column—it is a topic, I felt the need to address and hope to expand on in the coming weeks. I hope to explore, our college’s hesitation to talk about the she-who-must-not-be-named, feminism.