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Posts by: Femffragists
On my first day I was presented with the question “Are you a feminist?” Not knowing what it really meant, I still answered the question by saying “no”.Zury, Gerald, Mercedes, Nico
If I was presented with the same question again today – “Am I a feminist?” I would say “yes.” I believe many of us are feminists and we just don’t know it.”
Coming into the semester, I wasn’t sure what I was going to learn. Not being very enthusiastic and just looking for extra units, I was expecting more of a class about learning the history, the importance and roles played by women in history.
On my first day I was presented with the question “Are you a feminist?” Not knowing what it really meant, I still answered the question by saying “no”. I never really considered myself to be a feminist, but at the same time I never really understood what it was, or what it meant to be one. I wouldn’t say it was because of ignorance that I never knew as much as I do now, but instead had to do with not being informed growing up.
From first grade all the way through high school, I never took a women’s history class nor was I ever involved in women’s organizations. It’s been several months since I’ve worked with the ERA Education Project, and every week I seem to be learning more and more as I work on these field assignments. Getting the chance to interview strangers, friends, and even family members has been a great opportunity, because during these interviews I get to share with people, things that I never knew.
What I enjoyed the most while working with the ERA Education Project is that we got to work on a curriculum for elementary students. I found this project great because now, at least these students will have information and knowledge that I didn’t when I was their age. Do I believe in equal rights? Yes I do. If I was presented with the same question again – “Am I a feminist?” I would say “yes”. I believe many of us are feminists and we just didn’t know it.
It’s been two months since we started working with the ERA Education Project and it is still full of surprises and information that we never paid too much attention to. After interviewing younger people, and watching my classmates’ videos as well, what continuously stood out was the lack of knowledge on feminism and the ERA. But more important is that it appears to be strategically set up that way. In this day and age it is becoming more culturally and socially acceptable to not only be okay with sexual inequality, but to perpetuate it as well. From media to legislation, men and women are being taught that women are (for lack of a better word) worthless in comparison to men. In a culture that habitually objectifies and belittles women, we are being taught that it is okay to be disrespected – and in some cases it’s even encouraged.
Take the domestic abuse situation with Rihanna and Chris Brown for example; it was made publicly clear that her ex-boyfriend Chris Brown (who is also a celebrity people may look up to), beat her on numerous occasions, and for a while there was a huge deal in the media about it. What is truly horrifying is what happened when he performed at an award show a year later. Young women tweeted everywhere that they’d let him beat them anytime. Fast forward a few years later and what happened when Rihanna and Brown recorded another song together? It was no big deal, as if nothing had ever happened. Both of these celebrities are sending negative messages to our future generation: beat a woman and there will be no harsh punishment; or get beaten by a man and continue to have a relationship with him. How does this make any sense? What astounds me is that it’s actually gotten this far.
Again, This can be traced back to the lack of knowledge – as there are still people who think men and women are equal under the law! No one can do anything big enough to make a change because there aren’t enough people that know and recognize what is going on. It may sound cliché, but Knowledge is Power. If people (including my classmates and myself) become better informed on the subject, then we can make better choices when it comes to doing something about these issues- because it benefits us all.
There are already many feminists groups and organizations working towards equality for women, yet very little people who show support either because lack of interest, or fear of being patronized by society. The fact of the matter is we need to come together to make changes in order to move forward. After reading a couple of chapters from Grassroots on art and activism, I feel like that is the best way to do so.
Our generation is very visual when it comes to learning and maintaining interest (as seen with the Rihanna example). We would rather watch films and listen to interesting music than read about a subject. I’m not saying this is a good thing, but it can be beneficial when trying to reach out to a younger generation. In a very real way, it is a form of activism. When watching films and documentaries on social, political, and cultural issues, we usually feel a connection with the protagonist that can be used to transcend any differences towards common ground. That common ground can be the confidence to admit to being a feminist or an egalitarian. It can be to work towards passing the ERA and granting women the equal rights they deserve.
This is a huge part of the reason why we are enjoying being a part of this project so much. Even when interviewing people, I feel like I’ve helped in a small way by bringing up such important questions. I hope that at the end of each interview we conduct people leave with those thoughts and questions on their minds and maybe then they’ll bring it up to friends. Then a new cycle will begin- a more positive one!
GROUP 3/WEEK 1: Zury, Molly, Nico & Mercedes
Like anything foreign to us, Feminism and Activism can be scary, overwhelming, even something entirely unheard of, but as with many new things come change, eye-opening experiences, and even lifelong journeys. This is why, although a bit scared and confused, we embark on this journey to learn and to share women’s history- our history- with those who are willing to listen (and maybe those who aren’t).
Yes, we are currently students and are learning about Feminism and the ERA, but aren’t we all students in one way or another? Aren’t we all constantly learning something new, whether at school, at home, or in life? And believe it when we tell you that there is still much to be learned. It’s much more than the fact that women are not considered equal under the constitution, or the realization that we too perpetuate sexism (the effects of our socialized culture), but most importantly it’s about learning how to move forward towards a more egalitarian society- because that, in a few words, is what feminism is about. It is not about women hating men or men hating women, it’s not about who’s a bitch and who’s angry, it’s about being equal to one another and our actions reflecting that.
Like most things, in order to move forward we must look at and analyze our past, which in the case of feminism can be rather difficult; whether it be lack of interest, knowledge, history, or a patriarchal society that purposely debunks the movement for its benefit. Lucky for us there are many women like Zoe Nicholson, who continue to enlighten, encourage and educate us on the movement and the many ways in which to be a part of it.
Before listening to Zoe, we (like many others) believed that being a feminist, activist, or both, was not only difficult but also out of reach. Listening to her and reading books like Manifesta has taught us that change and commitment can come about in small ways, but should never be seen as anything less than activism.
One of the most important aspects of modern activism is that one doesn’t have to go into it turning your life upside down. In Grassroots, Baumgardener and Richards address this issue that many young activists have today. In their prologue they say, “We are advocating, quite simply, that if you wait until you’re perfect and free of conflicts, you will never change anything in the world” and to quote Zoe Nicholson, “You have to start with what is right in front of you.” This rings incredibly true, for the majority of people don’t know where to start or even how, forgetting that we have the freedom to choose what being an activist and a feminist is to us and that part of our journey still is to figure that out.