A (Rookie) Rookie Feminist
As a teenager, sometimes I believe that our generation is hopeless. Just walking through the hallway you can hear certain things that would make you want to sit everyone down on the spot and explain how they're seeing things in such a male-dominated way. The truth is, though, that I've grown to ignore many of these instances just because I don't think that anything I say will make a difference. I'm just "one of those freshmen" after all. It also seems like a waste of time and energy to let my opinions fall on deaf ears when I can find people who care on blogs like The FBomb, Rookie and Tumblr. It seems like lately, I've lost faith in "real people" and put my faith in "internet people" instead. The people that I've met through social media seem to actually care whereas the people I come across in my own school couldn't care less.
Before reading The FBomb and Rookie, I didn't understand what feminism was. I somewhat believed the stereotypes, but only because I didn't know enough to prove any of them wrong. Both my classmates (guys and girls) and I were somewhat clueless about gender equality. I only know what I do know from reading feminist blogs and watching the news with my parents. In the past, I always assumed that feminists were just from the suffrage movement, or those people with radical views, blaming everything on the privileges of men. But of course, nothing is just black and white. Through feminist blogs, I was introduced to the gray area that most don’t bother to look for.
For a class project, I decided to go to a Boston Rookie meet-up and talk to like-minded people who could relate to my situation. I consider myself a rookie to feminism and thought that those at the meet-up might feel the same, but also believed that everybody would have something valuable to say. Even though we were all from different places, some more liberal from others, I knew that this was just the right group for me.
On October 13, 2012, my father and I took a two hour ride to Cambridge, MA for the Rookie meet-up, which was organized by my fellow Rookie Magazine readers Nishat Khan and Hanna Negami. Many girls who are fans of the magazine were there, all with varying ethnicities and ages; from child to college graduate. The following are some general questions I asked my peers at the meet-up and their answers.
Q: When you hear the word “feminist”, what is the first word that you think of?
A: Women, Empowerment
Q: What is feminism?
Equality for all; The belief that all genders are equal; Intersectionality; An outlet for people to empower themselves
Q: Do you consider yourself a feminist?
Q: Do you talk to others about feminism? What is their reaction?
A: Yes; people (mainly guys) get defensive because they tend to think you are trying to attack them when you really aren't. There are stigmas that make them uncomfortable about what you have to say.
One girl, Mitali, said that she had started a feminism club at her school, and she was worried that guys wouldn't be into the idea or would feel weird about it. Instead, there were more guys than she expected!
Q: What do you think causes “extremist feminism” stereotypes?
A: Movies and the media. The stereotypes are similar to gay males in the way that people only see one kind of that person and then label all of them (like a gay male who acts more feminine and speaks and dresses a certain way as compared to a feminist who is hairy and hates men). It makes it harder for others to see people in that group who don’t fit into those characteristics.
Q: What is a man’s role in feminism?
A: It’s the same as a woman’s. It is to empower both genders and to benefit society as a whole, not just women in society.
Q: Do double standards exist? If so, what are they?
A: Mostly the fact that guys can talk freely about things like sex, and females can’t.
Q: Is there a generational difference in how people promote feminism?
A: Yes; it’s more feminine now. People are proud of it. Feminism is kind of “trending" too. But that causes some abstract ideas and uncertainty on what feminism is. Now, the idea of feminism isn't just one group. It’s many individuals coming together.
Q: What do you think makes some feminists so angry?
A: A lot of it is rape culture and the fact that they feel they are being ignored. They want to be taken seriously. It’s harder to understand, since we live in a more liberal area (Massachusetts).
Q: In one sentence each- “Feminism is ___. “Feminism is not ___.”
A: Feminism is equality. Feminism is not misandry.
Q: What do you think is the largest feminism stereotype?
A: The stereotype that all feminists are: Hairy, “Dykes” and lesbians, Have a “burn your bras!” mentality, Hate men
When I shared this project with my friends, it did get them to pay attention to what I believe is important. Although they simply don't get my point sometimes when I start to rant about abortion rights and misogyny (which I don't necessarily blame them for), I'm glad that I got to educate others, meet new people, and give myself a crash course or two. Most importantly, I'm glad that I don't feel the need to keep quiet all the time when I should support what I believe in instead. I still have a long way to go, but this project was a fantastic starting point for me. I believe in every single person who reads this and every single person who is trying to leave their everyday environment looking better than when they found it.
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