Opinion: Face Your Fears: Feminism

This past Monday, the History Department celebrated Feminist Coming Out Day with feminist buttons and cake. I think there are tons of feminists here at Boston College. There must be, right? After all, it is 2014, Boston College students tend to be quite intelligent and the undergraduate population is 52% female. So I guess my question here is: why aren’t I seeing more of these buttons on campus?

Over the past few days, I have developed a few button (or lack thereof) related theories. It could be because everyone is already so “out” as a feminist that they think wearing a button would be redundant. Theory number two plays around with the idea that no one likes wearing buttons anymore, but the third and final theory is the one that seems most plausible. Stick with me here, but the lack of buttons could have something to do with people being afraid of feminists… because let’s be real, everyone loves buttons. So I will join the Women’s Resource Center, and the Boston College History Department, I will grab a button and I will take a minute to “come out.”

My name is Julia, and I am a feminist.

Even typing it, I hesitate. Though I am unashamed of my opinions, I do not typically advertise it to the public because of the reaction I am afraid I will receive. Even when I hear the word, the first image that pops into my head is of an angry woman with hairy armpits. She is yelling at me about how men are the root of all evil and the cause of all wars.

No one likes hearing the stereotypical “feminist rant.” The word itself has become alienating, and somehow, despite the positive ideals it stands for, it has developed a negative connotation. Not that there are no more feminists, but “militant” and “preachy” have become synonyms, which has led to the increased number of “Not-A-Feminist” feminists. This is why we need a Feminist Coming Out Day.

Amy Poehler, a Boston College graduate, was recently interviewed about this “Not-A-Feminist” trend. She discusses the new movement: people claiming that they are not feminists, when in reality, their beliefs and actions say otherwise. Poehler explained it as someone who says “I don’t really believe in cars, but I drive one every day and I love that it gets me places and makes life so much easier and faster and I don’t know what I would do without it.” Feminism is not the issue here, but how we view those who identify as such. Rather than be associated with the bra-burning ladies who insist on spelling it “womyn,” people simply refuse to don the label of a feminist.

We, as a campus, and as a society, need to reclaim the word. A feminist is not necessarily a woman. A feminist does not hate men. A feminist does not think women are superior to men. A feminist is an individual who believes that despite their differences, men and women should receive equal treatment. Ladies, you do not need to forgo your razors, or take up pyrotechnics with your undergarments. Gentlemen, you do not need to abandon your masculinity, or stop checking out the girl who sits in front of you in your econ class. The word “feminist” should not be limiting, it should be universal.

Fear of judgment for identifying as a feminist should not exist. If you support gender equality, if you think women deserve the same opportunities as their male counterparts, if you have a mother, sister, girlfriend, friend who is a girl, neighbor, classmate, professor… whoever, that you respect, cherish, or admire, YOU ARE A FEMINIST. Embrace the title, and go get yourself a button.

GIF courtesy of mifti / Tumblr

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