Student: “While others may not need feminism, I do.”

By: Sarah Gao

My introduction to feminism came, as many concepts do these days, from the Internet. In middle school, I saw a video on Youtube about the glass ceiling, a completely foreign concept to me at the time. Researching the glass ceiling led to researching the wage gap and led to researching the social expectations of women. I was irritated at the disparity between the sexes: if women work as hard as men, they should earn the same amount of money and be viewed as equally capable. Conveniently, I stumbled upon a term for that thinking: feminism. I immediately slapped that label onto myself and went about my business, thinking this equality was common sense. However, that is not the case. Some men think feminism threatens them, tipping the scales so women are in charge of everything and catering to the misandrists. Others dislike feminism because of traditional or religious beliefs, but I believe aversion to feminism is at least partly due to a skewed representation of feminism in the media. Not only are women presented in the media as submissive, oftentimes shown in commercials as mere sexual objects, it seems to be a pervading belief that feminists are a group of crazy women threatening to establish a female dictatorship over everyone. The only feminists that ever make the news are the ones that parade around for the Free the Nipple movement or antagonize men. However, that’s not good feminism. Feminism is a political and social belief to establish women on an equal level as men. There is no tipping of the scales, no female dictatorship. Just equality.

I acknowledge that white feminism is a major issue with modern feminism. Fighting for the rights of white women while disregarding the oppression and issues of women of color only results in antagonism between women and a greater divide between white women and women of color. White feminism trivializes all women that aren’t white, but that doesn’t mean we should all hate all white feminists. We should condemn white feminism, not white feminists. Women of color have an even smaller voice than white women, so even those who do speak out aren’t necessarily heard. Modern feminism also tends to ignore transgender women. This is part of a much larger issue of gender identity and people’s acceptance, but the bottom line is that modern feminism sometimes doesn’t include all women and that needs to be fixed if any progress can be made.

While others may not need feminism, I do. I already work extremely hard to accomplish my goals, so it’s not right to make that even harder due to the fact I’m female. Not being submissive should not equate to not being a woman. Why am I not allowed to be charismatic, to be competitive, to be strong? I need feminism because the number of girls in my honors science classes dwindled until there were only three girls, myself included, in my AP physics class last year to the 15 boys. According to the data for 2014 collected by the census, a white woman only makes about 78 cents to every man’s dollar, and women of color make even less. Maybe this is OK for some people, but I am not

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