Ignorance and Fear

Art by Ishaan Barrett | Maret '22

By Kyra Layman | Burke '21

There are forty-eight members in Femco, our school’s feminist affinity group. Of those forty-eight individuals, five are female teachers, thirty-five are female students, and eight are male students. Having boys who are signed up for Femco denotes tremendous progress, yet there is still considerable work to be done. I have attended nearly every meeting and have never once seen one of these boys.

According to Merriam Webster’s Dictionary, feminism is a theory of the political, economic, and social equality of the sexes. When asked, “Should men and women be social, political, and economic equals?” 80 percent of Americans answer “yes,” however only 20 percent consider themselves feminists. For some reason, there is a stigma attached to the words “feminism” and “feminist”. Why do people support the cause and not the label?

John Legend declares: "I’m always suspicious of people who become feminists only when they have a daughter. I feel like you should have enough empathy for other people that you don’t need someone to be in your family to think they’re valuable.” He is correct- social change will never be achieved from only acting when something applies to you. It takes everybody to make a change. Although you may not feel like you are affected by the feminist movement now, you will be someday, and you’ll be glad you helped the cause.

When my aunt asked my eleven-year-old twin cousins what they knew about feminism, one guessed it had to do with being feminine. The other declared that she did not know and joked that it possibly was related to fennel. When my aunt explained the meaning, they both looked stunned and stated: “Of course men and women are equal. Why would anyone think they weren't?” Given another couple of years, I guarantee that they will say, “Of course men and women should be treated equally. Why does anyone think they shouldn’t be?” If my eleven year old cousins from a liberal family in a liberal state are not sure what feminism really is, how can they help make progress? How can anyone make progress if we live in an ignorant society?

Why do some men find it incredibly easy to label themselves as feminists, while others cannot conceive of trying to support equality of the sexes? Some commentators argue that people are simply scared to denounce social standards. But why is it that only some people have that fear? Everyone has something to say, whether it is as trivial as criticizing a rival sports team or as controversial as supporting gun control. So why do people shy away from the feminist label? There is something about the feminist label in particular that drives people away from embracing it.

My aunt and uncle had a baby a couple of months ago. During my recent visit, my uncle asked me repeatedly to join him in teaching his daughter to be a feminist. He has always considered himself a feminist and is consistently active in his efforts to promote equality. Why does he find it desirable to label himself a feminist, while others reject the idea that maybe they could be a feminist as well? Perhaps some people are not as concerned with their social position or what others may think of them, but it also has to do with being brave for the things that need brave supporters. In this current day where we are still struggling with simple equality, we need activists that work together to solve this issue, because it cannot be fixed by one person. If you support equality of the sexes, you are a feminist, so do not reject the label. Fullstop.