I am slightly embarrassed to confess that I was guilty of sharing the notion that “we are already liberated” (Shaw, 2012) upon signing up for this class. Yes, I am aware of the violence against women and lack of rights abroad, but I struggled to understand the feminist movement in America, where women have gained equality in so many aspects in the last century. However, through reviewing “Women’s Studies: Perspectives and Practices,” I realize that feminism is more than just a social movement in my culture, but a global movement with many forms and issues across nations. What feminism boils down to is equality and justice for a women in every aspect of life and including and affirming women (Shaw, 2012). This means valuing feminine attributes the same as masculine attributes. I would love to see the day where words such as gentle, emotional and sensitive are seen as a strength more than a weakness, and for the day when negative traits such as submissive, weak and soft can be eradicated as feminine characteristics.
I have so often overlooked the rights and privileges that I have today thanks to feminists throughout history. As Cristen Conger reveals in her Youtube video “What Has Feminism Accomplished,” nowadays I can participate in sports and have a credit card in my own name (2016). We have laws about trafficking and the definition of sexual consent, and paternal leave for fathers. All modern day benefits from the works of feminists. One of the biggest examples in my life of how I actively participate in feminist ideas today is through my sorority. Although Greek life has evolved since its origins in the 1850s, sororities were created for the advancement of women’s rights, defying the stereotypical customs and expectations. My sorority is not even classified as a sorority, but as a fraternity for women for the purpose of distinguishing the organization “from the sisterhoods organized in connection with men’s fraternities, called sororities” (ZTA facts, n.d). I find this rather fascinating that this chapter wanted independence from men to the extent where it classified itself as something other than the traditional “sorority” label that other similar female organizations held, so that it would have no “brother” fraternity to be associated with. Yes, sororities have changed overtime, but one aspect that has always been prevalent is the support and strength provided by a sisterhood, a community where every woman shares similar goals and aspirations to succeed in life through education and philanthropy.
Lastly, I want to address a fear of mine that was explained in “I am all for Equal Rights, But don’t Call me a Feminist.” I know that some of the first adjectives that come to mind when many people hear “feminism” are whiny, hairy, and freaky, all rather negative connotations. In fact, this article hit the nail on the head with the statement that most people don’t want to be associated with “spooky stereotypes about feminists and their freaky excess” (2008). Maybe this is why I have never outright expressed my support for the feminist movement in its current form. I fully support the intentions that the movement has, but I don’t believe I need to defy social norms (ex: not shaving or refusing to have children) in order to accomplish the goals of the feminist movement. I think we need to remind ourselves what our goals are, and realize that marching around shirtless and other rather extreme demonstrations only hinder the movement as people are less likely to support a cause that has a few radical components that overtake headlines.
Shaw, Susan M., and Janet Lee. 2012. “Women’s Studies: Perspectives and Practices.” Pp. 1-24 in Women’s Voices, Feminist Visions: Classic and Contemporary Readings. McGraw-Hill Education.
Olson, Loreen N., Tina A. Coffelt, Eileen Berlin Ray, Jill Rudd, Renee Botta, George Ray, and Jenifer E. Kopfman. 2008. “‘I’m all for equal rights, but don’t call me a feminist’: Identity Dilemmas in Young Adults’ Discursive Representations of Being a Feminist.” Women’s Studies in Communication 31(1):104-32.
Conger, Cristen. 2016. “What Has Feminism Accomplished?” Everyday Feminism. (http://everydayfeminism.com/2016/01/what-has-feminism-accomplished/).