The “F” word that might provoke some puzzled looks and even eye rolls, is feminism. But, let’s face it, there’s no way to mute this term or the context that it’s placed in. Yet, when it’s said in a classroom, some students might get annoyed or better yet, inspired to debate. Feminism can be misidentified as hating men. It led me to believe that I should avoid the term at allcosts and I’ve heard the word in a negative context. When I was exposed to how misconstrued this powerful concept has become, I changed my views. Flashback to last week: I had just given my presentation on women empowerment in class. At the end, I realized how powerful feminism is in terms of the perception of women. This got me thinking about how feminism is not based on hating men, but about power. It’s about sharing. Feminism is about empowering women to stand up for their beliefs, ideas and dreams. It’s more than the rejection of traditional gender roles and a lot more about advocating women’s rights in the social, political and economic arenas to equalize the playing field between men and women. Judith Stark, a professor of philosophy and cofounder of the women and gender studies program at SHU realizes that men have been in a position of power for a long time. “Men aren’t going to give up power and they’re not easily going to let women participate fully in making decisions about the professional and private world,” Stark said. “There’s been tremendous backlash against the women’s world and feminism. It’s painted that feminists hate men, which is clearly not the case. It’s painted in a way so young women wouldn’t want to participate and don’t see themselves in that frame of reference.” Feminism exists at the college level. Whether, it’s a woman president for a club or SHU men and women working together to lead, empower and teach college freshmen that feminism exists. Stark adds, “I can’t tell you the number of times that women students, in particular, say to me ‘I’m not a feminist, but I want equal pay for equal work, I want to be able to make my own reproductive choices, I want men to respect me and I do not want to be a victim of sexual violence,’ and I say to them that I hear you on all those things, but this is what feminism is all about. Yet, feminism has been so demonized by power.” The issue of not viewing women as equal can only be fixed by both men and women. The idea is not to hate on men, but to seek a mutual understanding while empowering women. Nisha Desai can be reached at email@example.com.
Feminism promotes equality, empowerment for all genders