Feminism is more than just a word

Senior+Jade+Lau+at+International+Women%27s+Day+March.

Senior Jade Lau at International Women's Day March.

Jamie Ma, Staff Writer

In junior high school, I had a tin lunchbox with a picture of Rosie the Riveter printed on the thin metal in that famous bright blue and yellow.  My history teacher and I loved it, but not many other people did.

I remember one day in Spanish class, this boy, let’s say his name was Dan, saw my lunchbox.

“Are you a… feminist?” Dan had asked incredulously. I was never ashamed for labelling myself as a feminist, so I nodded. But Dan felt ashamed for me. “Oh my gosh, I’m so sorry. I’m really, really sorry,” Dan apologized. “I know that’s offensive. I didn’t mean to offend you.”

That “conversation” will stick with me for the rest of my life as I grow up as a female in America. Dan assumed that I was upset he called me ‘feminist’, and repeatedly apologized for “offending” me for the rest of the year. Why? My theory is that his understanding of the term ‘feminist’ was something that it’s not. It isn’t something I’m angry about, but it’s something that we, as a society, need to address.

Freshman, Cooper Kile offers an explanation for the backlash against feminism.

“There’s a lot of stuff on YouTube of ‘feminists’ talking complete crap about males. Some of the radical ones are accusing men of doing things like sexually assaulting women. I saw something where a guy said ‘no’ to a girl, and she accused him of sexual assault, so that’s a way feminism can get a bad view,” Kile said.

Junior, Sharra Wells shares similar ideas.

“[Feminism] promotes change a society does not want. Obviously we live in a patriarchal society and too many men do not want women to be in power,” Wells said.

Feminism is not radicalism, it’s just equal rights for everyone.

Senior, Jade Lau believes that feminism does, however, carry a negative stigma, although it is only because the idea is a change.

“It’s developed [it] through social media, but I think people are afraid of change. There is a comfort in traditional ideology. That’s why people fear feminism, because feminism is the notion that we’re going to break apart from women being domesticated and male dominance,” Lau said.

There are some women who do not believe in the idea of feminism or equal rights, and we need to educate them to fight for themselves.

“We’ve been taught from an early age this traditional idea that other women are competition to us, and so as we’ve aged, we’ve developed an internalized misogyny,” Lau said.

“Women are caught within that social pressure, and they are the evidence that we need feminism, because we need to pull them out of that ignorance and the pressures that confine them to something they shouldn’t be in,” Lau added.

Too many people have their own idea of feminism. Feminism is not an opinion, it is not an insult, and it’s more than just a word.