What does it mean to be a ‘feminist’ at BC?
Answering this question forced me to reflect on what “feminism” means in general and why I identify with it.
I am a feminist because…well…I just am. It just feels right. I am a feminist because I believe in equality.
In response to NPR’s similar question, “What does it mean to be a ‘feminist’ in your country?” one contributor explained that, “For [her], it’s about dignity for both sexes.” I could not agree more.
So what does it mean to be a feminist at BC?
To be completely honest, I’m not sure.
I know I am a feminist because I can feel it in my being. But I also have issues with feminism, which Jia Tolentino so eloquently describes in her New York Times article, found here. The issue with contemporary feminism is that we have surpassed the idea of “dignity for both sexes.” As Tolentino addresses, women can literally buy ‘empowerment.’ I worry that BC has begun down this path.
Don’t get me wrong, being a feminist is something to be very proud of and I want to shout it to the world Martin-Freeman-style, but I have very little to show for my support of gender equality. We have every “Women In…” club and resource available at BC, and yet I take part in none. It’s not that I, like many, am too busy to participate, but that I conscientiously object to participating (save my brief involvement in “Women in Science” before I dropped my physics major).
I dislike the pressure I feel as a female student—especially one in business—to join my sisters in anatomy as a prerequisite for being a ‘feminist.’ The commercialization of feminism, as with so many things, has obscured its true intentions. Suddenly, feminism has become an exclusive club only accessible to those carrying a V-Card (as in vagina, not virgin). Movements like “He for She” try to incorporate the other half of the population, but how successful is a campaign for men when its spokesperson is a woman?
I feel no obligation to support any human solely because of their gender, sex, identity, or whatever the kids are calling it these days. Feminism is about equality, and from there, life is a meritocracy. In a perfect world, yes, I would love to be considered for my thoughts and actions as a human and not as a woman, but I realize the world is far from perfect. I will not take this imperfection passively, but I will also not subscribe to “Empowerment;" I do not need someone to tell me I am strong or to tell me to “Lean In,” (though I do admire Sheryl Sandberg for her hard work).
I am strong because I know I am strong. Women are strong, and while a support network can be a needed and wonderful thing, we have bastardized “feminism” into a paradox. Another contributor to NPR’s discussion of feminism said, “Both men and women need to work to advance it.” Isolating ourselves as women in our exclusive V-Card clubs only widens the equality gap we say we are trying to fight.
So what does it really mean to be a feminist at Boston College? To me, it means having confidence in my convictions. It means trying my hardest to achieve my goals. It means being a decent human being. Most of all, it means giving everyone fair consideration because of who they are and what they bring to the table–not because of their biological disposition, but because on a human-to-human basis, we owe each other that much.