I believe, far too often, feminism is confused with “man-hating.” While the word “feminism” may be used frequently today, the meaning can be hazy to people. I know it is hazy to people around our community. Throughout my high school career, I have heard peers say, “I’m not a feminist,” “Feminism is ridiculous,” “Oh look, more feminists protesting.” These comments have not just been from males. So what is this word so many are easy to throw aside? The definition, according to Merriam-Webster, is the theory of the political, economic, and social equality of the sexes. Emphasis on equality of the sexes; this is not a word placing women above men, or men above women. So to those girls I have heard ridiculing feminists, do you not believe we should receive the same treatment as men?
I am not the only female at South to believe in feminism. Junior Julia Vojtech elaborated, saying,
“Women are protesting because we still are not treated with the respect we deserve. The feminist movement is specifically for EQUALITY; not women being better than men. That is a stigma in most male minds that needs to be erased. Additionally, women from different countries need to be recognized and appreciated as well. Muslim women, African American women, Latina women, disabled women, etc. need to be treated just as well as American women. We cannot forget their struggles and sacrifices even to this day.”
And let’s not even stop there, because feminism is about the men as much as the women. There’s men in our building with the same mindset. Health and physical education teacher Mr. Michael Rank Sr. admitted to supporting the opposite sex just as much as his own. He said,
“My mom, mother-in-law, my late grandmother, my sister, and of course my wife are extremely important to our families. They are the glue that keeps us all together. Women still do not make the same salary as a man in the exact same positions. Having two daughters, and my wife, this is extremely frustrating.”
Another man, Associate Principal Mr Kevin Formolo, elaborated on how his wife and him raise their two daughters with no gender stereotypes.
“My wife and I believe many things about our children! One for sure is that gender isn’t to be seen as either weak or strong. My wife and I are constantly challenging the boy/girl dichotomy and make an effort to challenge our own and our girls perceptions of what it means to be a boy or a girl. ‘Boys can like pink, just as girls can like blue.’ We try hard not to label and continuously encourage our girls to learn, try, and experience new things.”
With the media becoming increasingly accessible, protests and movements spread much faster than those in the past. There’s international groups such as the National Organization for Women (NOW), Global Fund for Women, Human Rights Campaign, MADRE, and many many more. There’s groups in schools, communities, and colleges. But why the need for these groups? One South High Senior, who will remain unnamed for his sake, told me he believed only women protested because,
“They apparently have nothing better to do with their days since they’re so ‘oppressed.’”
Not quite. All of these groups are working to ensure women can own their own property, vote, run for office, get paid fair wages, and live free from violence, including domestic violence, sexual assault, and human trafficking. According to the article “A Story of Drinkers, Genocide, and Unborn Girls,” by David Bauer, there are approximately 66 million more males to females in the world according to 2016 data. If this number was just left to nature, this gap would not exist, or be as vast as it is today. The missing girls come from China, India, Bangladesh, from the United States itself, and all over the world as females may not be wanted. But females are needed and women, and men, in the world with voices that aren’t silenced can help stand up for these individuals. That is a main purpose of women’s rights and human rights organizations. Junior Shouacua Xiong, a fellow feminist, spoke to me about her thoughts on these movements.
“There are going to be many people who oppose it. To those people I would like to say that many people didn’t support the original women’s rights movement protesters and thought that their protests were ridiculous, much like how people who oppose women taking a stand today deem it as ridiculous. People argue that women have all the rights they need but if it weren’t for the first women’s rights protesters it wouldn’t be like it is today, and it still isn’t even our ideal image of equality.”
Let’s not let extremists change our minds about equality. I am not writing this just as a female, but rather as a human, a feminist. Women’s rights are human rights. Let’s rise up as humans and root each other on instead of tearing each other down. We can start right here at South High.