(This is how I felt tonight)
Tonight, I attended a “Gentleman’s Panel” in the lobby of my dorm building. The pretense? Three men, behind a screen, would answer questions anonymously about anything- sex, politics, dating, personalities, etc. Multiple questions regarding physical appearances, preferences for physical appearance, and how they prefer women were asked by the girls in my hall.
I asked the question: “Are you a feminist?”
I didn’t know what to expect. Some small part of me hoped that they’d realize that feminism is essentially equality, and that they’d answer yes.
The three answers were as follows (spoiler: none of them were “yes”!):
First guy: No. Right off the bat, no qualms about it.
Second guy: Not really? If feminism is man-hating and anti-male, no.
Third: Sort of? But not really? Confused?
I was honestly horrified. I was also saddened. Clearly, my campus thinks that feminism is a dirty word, or that it’s entirely all about hating men. They were really unsure of what it is, and they also had some negative ideas about women in general.
Here’s a quote from tonight:
“There is always a hidden motive behind everything”, regarding what women say and do.
Then, their biggest problems with relationships were “communication” and “trust”. The two are definitely related if men think that women are constantly full of these ulterior motives with everything they say and do. The correlation is pretty clear to me. If I say I really like taking walks through a park, it means I like walking through the park. If my boyfriend says that he likes ice cream, I’m assuming that means that he enjoys ice cream. It goes both ways. (Note: this boyfriend is hypothetical. Although I would enjoy a boyfriend who does like ice cream.)
FEMINISM = EQUALITY.
It is not about hating men, being better than men, feeling superior, etc. Feminism is not about taking away masculinity, it’s about creating a world where parity is possible.
Feminism is about equality in voting, representation, reproductive rights, law, etc.- total equality. It’s about breaking gender roles and stereotypes.
It is not a a dirty word.
I’m not sure what needs to happen here on my campus, but clearly there needs to be some de-mystifying as to what feminism actually is. It’s clearly seen as a noxious, tainted word that carries all sorts of threatening ideas, when in reality, it shouldn’t be threatening at all. I am not personally attacking these young men, but rather frustrated at the lack of clarity as to what feminism is in general here at Montana State University, for both men and women.