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Fear of Feminism

June 19, 2012

By Alexandra Curran

I sit down with a group of my fellow college students for lunch between classes. Oddly enough, the conversation today is politics, a rare occurrence with this group. When asked which candidate I would like to see as president in the future, I immediately spit out “Hillary Clinton.” “Well Alex, I don’t think women are emotionally strong enough to be president.” I blink. Maybe I misheard what he was trying to say. He repeats it. I look around and not a single student at the table gawks, never mind makes an attempt to counter what the young man has just said.

It is my first day in Feminism 101 and the professor opens class by explaining that being a feminist simply means believing in equal rights for everyone. We later split into small groups. The Teaching Assistant  asks if any of us consider ourselves to be feminists. I am the only student to raise my hand.

I grew up in an exceedingly feminist and liberal household. All through my childhood, my parents preached equality and told me that I could be anything if I worked hard enough. And though throughout high school I endured the occasional “woman joke,” I always believed that my classmates, both male and female, considered me an equal. When I went to college, this was no longer the case. Perhaps it was ignorant of me to think that everyone had been raised like I was. But I soon realized that there were some among my peers that did not consider me as capable as everyone else. There were some people that were raised to believe that because I am a woman, I have certain limitations. This was difficult for me to accept, although it bothered me much more that my fellow female students would not stand up for their equality. They allowed male students to diminish their intelligence and talent. I could not understand their reluctance to defend their competence, until a friend told me that she feared being called a “feminist.” What was always valued and esteemed in my home had become a dirty word in the real world.

The fear of feminism runs rampant as women are afraid to be associated with bra-burning, man-hating feminazis. Instead we allow conservative media titans like Rush Limbaugh to degrade the feminist, from an advocate of equality, to a stereotype that some people don’t want to be associated with. We then accept this debased definition and shun the feminist movement all while convincing ourselves that women’s lib is over.

Except it isn’t. Women make up 51% of the world population. And yet, women own less than 1% of the land on this earth. We earn about 77% of what men earn. And we make up only 16.8% of Congress. Despite what we tell ourselves, there is still a desperate need for feminism in the world. It is the duty of our generation NOT to shun this label, but to embrace it wholeheartedly, regardless of what the ignorant say. So if you believe in equality, take matters into your own hands and stand up for feminism.

About our guest blogger:

Alexandra Curran is currently an undergraduate at Boston College studying history and gender studies. As an advocate of women’s rights, Alexandra hopes to promote the feminist movement and raise awareness about women’s issues. She plans to one day represent women and children as a lawyer.

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