When you think of the idea of “feminism”, what immediately comes to mind? Perhaps you recall reading about the life of Susan B. Anthony who protested for women’s suffrage in the 19th century, or maybe Beyoncé on stage during the VMAs with “FEMINIST” on the giant widescreen behind her. You might think about recent social experiments such as “10 Hours of Walking Around NYC as a Woman”, where women are the targets of cat-calling from people on the street, or maybe what you consider to be a sexist comment you heard in the hallway.
In Social Studies teacher Bill Casertano’s United States History class, a similar activity is done to gauge what the students think about what is considered “modern” feminism. Students are free to walk up to the board and write what they think feminism is, and, according to Casertano, “anything is on the table.”
However positive the girls in the classroom are about their views on feminism, the idea brings an overall negative connotation. Next, Casertano shows them a definition of the word “feminism”. According to the Oxford English Dictionary, simply put, feminism is “advocacy of the rights of women,” meaning women should have the same political, social, and economic equality with men. Casertano then asks who is a feminist according to that definition. Everyone raises their hand.
So, the question to consider now is this: Why, according to the students, is feminism a negative concept, considering this definition?
In the general sense, the extreme defines the whole. Many people look at the feminists who are making headlines with their new definitions of feminism that may, in some cases, be radically different from the original definition. “Mostly, the students use anecdotal evidence. They talk about people they’ve encountered that were aggressive and overly political when it came to talking about feminism,” Casertano said.
With these experiences in mind, one may be hesitant to call themselves feminists, especially with the negative connotations that people like to associate with the term. However, if you believe that women should have the same equal rights as men, you are a feminist, and you’re helping the world to be a better place by believing that.
Jamie Bogue, Editor-in-Chief
Senior Jamie Bogue is the Editor-in-Chief for the 2014-2015 Colonel. She is a drum major for marching band, sings in Ledyard Carolers, Assistant Editor-in-Chief of Ledyard’s Horizons Yearbook, and is attending Liberty University next fall.