To the Editor:
As a feminist and womanist that cringed while reading last week’s comment on the feminist display situated near the Walsh Library’s main entrance (“Feminist display offends sanctity of the individual soul”), it was truly troubling and unsettling to come across a strongly mistaken conception, not only of the display itself, but of our current social conditions of gender, of sexual violence, and of female oppression.
Hostility, “denigration” of men, and a portrayal of “a bestial image” of men, which are all generalized stigmas that tend to be wrongly supposed about feminism (e.g. a man-hating ideology, etc.), were never the intent of the female-empowering piece. The highlighting of “man” in “manipulation” adheres to the former and current patriarchal influences that have ruled over women, a reality that is irrefutable due to historical accuracy. This same reality explains why women are disadvantaged in our day and age economically, politically, socially, and are exploited, marginalized, and subordinate to their male counterparts.
In no way is the feminist display targeting every man as a caveman, or a savage; instead, the actual intent of the piece is to raise consciousness on the existing sociopolitical oppression of women that has trickled down from sexist, patriarchal systems over the centuries.
To deflect from its original message, and claim it is “offensive” to men and to the “power of human volition,” is counterproductive to exposing, and potentially changing, the current social inequalities. Instead, it serves as a means, whether intentional or not, to maintain status quo, enabling sexism, misogyny and sexual violence to be seen as invisible, or inevitable within our culture.
Another counterpoint, to deny that our lives are deeply affected by gender is overall wrong. Gender determines each of our lives intensely, from the daily clothing we wear, to the different expectations, treatment and standards that are adjusted to our gender – from within the workplace to within our families. Our life experiences are determined by our gender as equally much as by our sexual orientation, race, and disabilities.
A closing thought to keep in mind about the feminist display and its message of significance is that it speaks out against sexual violence, in solidarity with all women across the globe. Considering sexual violence on an international scale, you cannot ignore the situation abroad, where rape is a weapon of war against women, or goes unpunished, tolling on the sanctity of their bodies and their spirit.
Undergraduate Student, College of Arts & Sciences