Feminism was a movement originally formed for the advocacy of women’s rights, which should be politically, socially and economically equal to men. The Suffragettes led a movement that involved these rights in earlier times, which was more focused on women. Leading feminists like Gloria Steinem have tried to steer the movement into more modern terms.
Modern day feminism, however, advocates for a larger range of rights, not only for women, but for ethnic groups, genders, sexualalities and many more issues relevant to our society. People in our generation, or more specifically at our school, believe feminism includes aggressive behaviors towards problems that most people who define themselves as “feminists” won’t ever personally show.
Feminism has divided our school in some ways. Many students wouldn’t want to identify themselves as a feminist because of the way it’s portrayed by other students. Then there are the students who are in the middle. They want to stand for the things that feminism is supposedly standing for, but they fear the backlash from students who have only seen the negative effects from the movement.
Senior Lydia Achenbach believes that the encounters with peers that call themselves feminists have been mainly negative. Although Achenbach still identifies as a feminist, she wouldn’t rely on that label because of what she’s experienced.
“The feminists at Norrix that I’ve had conversation with have harassed, bullied and talked about people behind their backs on many accounts,” said Achenbach.
“Feminism, along with any movement, is only as good as its leader,” Loy Norrix Art teacher Greg Stevens, a self-proclaimed feminist, said, “You have to have someone who will not only help the movement grow, but also make it so the movement is portrayed in a positive way.”
Social media adds another factor to the movement. Sites like Instagram and Twitter make it easy for anyone to share opinions, but sometimes the thread of opinions can become inappropriate and put others in harms way by mentally breaking them down.
LN Art teacher Cindy Vanlieu, who has stood for the movement since she was in her twenties, now into her seventies, believes that feminism has been taken out of proportion, especially with social media as a factor.
“When feminism started there was no social media. It was mostly word-for-word [word of mouth] by women by having rallies and protests,” said Vanlieu, “Now a lot of the movement is based on the sexualization of women and supporting of sexual identities, and although that’s extremely important, we have to work on the basic rights women should be guaranteed first. Women are still paid a percentage of what a man is paid and the group who controls the right to have an abortion are old, white men.”
We can change this by realizing that society cannot change overnight. We have to focus on improving ourselves before we can improve the world. You can only better yourself because others aren’t going to change, especially if they’re being persuaded by harsh words over social media.
Start locally and get to know your politicians. It’s important as a community to come together and support everyone in the community rather than a majority. Opinions will clash, guaranteed, but feminism is bringing everyone together no matter the difficulties.