Friday, July 14, 2006

Feminism is Not an Island

Last semester, I was sitting in my Culture and Society class when suddenly I realized: I was outnumbered.

I was one of maybe three feminists, or women’s advocates even, in a room of twenty. Not only that, but this class was predominantly female (a reflection of my college’s population). So, let’s do a simple deduction here: who accounted for most of the anti-feminist sentiment? The other young women, of course.

The fact that women, young women especially, can call themselves anti-feminist is still baffling to me. It is, in fact, a relatively new revelation that has left me a bit more of a cynic. I wonder how women can dismiss feminism and, when asked why, can only offer stereotypes as an answer. I’m now beginning to wonder if we feminists tend to dismiss women ignorant of feminism too quickly.

My question, or maybe my challenge, is: Are we cutting off our own movement?

Do we too easily sit in our women’s studies classrooms, or in our women’s groups, and discuss women’s issues amongst ourselves without ever trying to include the women who can’t afford higher education, or the women who aren’t in our networks? Why do younger women misunderstand feminism so grossly? I’m willing to blame a lot of it on the media’s misrepresentation of feminism, but if we allow this media to be the only source from which people - especially our target audience - derive their information, then it is our fault as well.

I know that many of us young women have been hurt when trying to share our views. We’ve been shut down by conservatives, told we were hysterical by self-satisfied men, and written off as man-hating bitches by most of society. It’s our duty now, however, to keep trying. We’ve got to keep talking – to everyone, not just to each other. If we don’t, our society will fall back upon the stereotypes that keep feminism an outsider. But if we do…well then, we just might further a movement.

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