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A note from the Editor…

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I got an email recently, notifying me of a new blog post from an author whose work I’ve admired for a few years now. Her writing workshops have done wonders for my own writing and I’ve enjoyed each of her books I’ve read.

Her recent blog post, however, both surprised and perturbed me when I discovered that she thinks that feminists are just women screaming about how all men are rapists and refuses to associate herself with the word. The few comments on her post seemed to agree, talking about how “modern feminists” are immature and irrational.

While it is definitely true that some women are ridiculously extremist and do seem to believe that the world would be better off without men, I would argue that such a view is nowhere near commonplace and really shouldn’t be anyone’s first thought when they hear the word “feminist.”

I’ve heard the argument that feminism was a powerful movement when women couldn’t vote, but now that we have laws to “ensure our equality,” it’s unnecessary. I could come up with so many counters to that idea that they wouldn’t fit in this whole paper, let alone on this page, but I’ll try to keep it simple.

The great movement to achieve women’s voting rights may be over, but that doesn’t mean that gender equality is solved or that sexist laws (and lawmakers) no longer exist. Only a couple weeks ago, the Trump administration rolled back Obama-era rules, making it easier for employers to refuse insurance coverage of birth control for their female employees.

Supposedly, this was done in the name of religious freedom, but the idea that some employers’ religious disagreement with the idea of contraceptives is somehow more important than the healthcare of half the population doesn’t sit particularly well with me.

In other recent news, Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein was exposed by numerous women to have pressured many of them into sexual acts, often in exchange for roles or other favors. He has apparently been doing this for decades without repercussion, largely because most of the women were afraid to come forward with a single accusatory voice.

The culture of our country tends toward disbelieving — or even blaming — any women who speak out against famous or influential men, especially when it comes to cases of sexual assault or abuse. Such scandals often lead to the utter ruin of the woman’s career, while men can go through multiple accusations and still end up being elected president.

Feminism doesn’t call for female supremacy or the eradication of all males. People who believe that women should have equal rights to men and be respected as such don’t usually believe that all men are rapists and murderers. The fact that so many people seem to think these things are true is concerning, because it gives them the ability to write off any woman’s struggles as the extremist ramblings of a mad, radical feminist and not think about the real problems our society is facing.

If you believe that men and women should have equal rights and opportunities, then you’re a feminist. If you believe that all men should die, then you’re something else entirely. (Perhaps the word you’re looking for is “psychopath”?)

Sometimes, quibbling over word usage is pure pedantry and makes you that person who derails a perfectly good conversation to remind someone that it’s “whom” rather than “who.” When it comes to labeling entire groups of people, however, word usage is important, because how a word is used eventually becomes how that word is perceived. If even people who believe in equal rights for all refuse to use the word “feminist” because a few crazy people have dragged the word through the mud, then it can undermine the ideology as a whole.

Yes, women can vote now, but until our largely-male government stops making damaging decisions about women’s healthcare, Hollywood executives stop groping actresses and threatening their jobs, and female CEOs can do their jobs without being “bitches” for it, I think the feminist ideology is something we still need.

 

— Cayla Fronhofer, Editor-in-Chief

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A note from the Editor…