Why does it seem that so many intelligent, educated, female university students are afraid to identify themselves as feminists? What is it about this word that has so many young women immediately on the defense when asked if they would identify themselves as one or not? In a recent repartee I had with one my AAS (African American Studies) classmates, we had a very frank conversation about the “F” word, and why it’s so ambiguously terrifying.
The discussion started when we were studying for an upcoming midterm in a coffee shop not far from campus. We hadn’t said anything for awhile, and all of sudden this song by an unimportant pop singer came an proclaiming the usual “haters gonna hate, everyone is beautiful” drivel, and all of sudden my study-buddy, Syara, said ” I don’t get all these … songs. Like, what is this whole new feminist fad that’s going on? I just don’t get it”.
Needless to say, my jaw dropped.”Fad?” I said, “I had no idea feminism was a fad, I was always under the impression it was a legitimate political movement”. I went on to ask her what exactly she thought feminism was, and what being a feminist meant to her. I was shocked to hear her answer, but after talking for awhile, I began to understand where she was coming from.
“I just don’t understand why its so out there now, I thought we were done with all that… I mean what is there a woman can’t do now, we can run for President.”
What I understood as we kept talking is that my dear friend couldn’t see past her privilege of being a white, heterosexual female in an upper-middle class socio-economic class. She genuinely thought feminism wasn’t necessary because she didn’t need it, as far as she was concerned, she had all the rights she needed. I recognized that this wasn’t just her problem, but the problem with a large part of our society as well. For those who hold a certain position in a white-hetero-patriarch society, some problems just aren’t a problem. There’s no need to be a political activist when the politics of a society work in your favor, right?
If there is anything our current political climate has told us, its that we can no longer afford to have this mentality. What my classmate couldn’t see is that the policies the Trump administration, and his election to president alone, are all reasons why she needs feminism. The problem isn’t the “F” word, its the social atmosphere that trivializes and ignores the injustice that effects us all, however indirectly is might appear.