The other day I was sitting at the table talking with my younger sister (age 14) and my little cousin (age 11). After recently aiding in the start of a feminist group at my high school I am often subject to random interrogations from my family about how my group remains active. When I began to explain my groups cause, both of my younger relatives turned to me, with the same disgruntled look on their face and asked a question that was surprisingly difficult to answer. "What is a feminist?"
I sat there, shocked, angry, and finally incredibly depressed. I have had the tenacity to call myself an active teenage feminist, yet two of the young women closest to me are completely unaware of our campaign. This is when I realized that coming up with a quick and easy to understand definition of feminism is not that easy. Do I start with the history, explain the suffrage movement, and how much the feminist movement has evolved since then? Do I begin ranting on the under representation of women in politics? Or do I hit them where it hurts, and explain how pop music and "The Real Housewives of (enter major city here)" is actually hurting their gender?
I strongly believe that to educate our youth of modern women issues we must somehow find a way to infiltrate the media outlet. Whether it's a public service announcement or getting highly prominent feminist figures on major news networks, there is so much that we can, and must, do in order to incite action.
I do not mean to sound pessimistic about the feminist movement, but my main question is how do we reach those who actually need our help? That is where we need to put all our energy, into those who, like my sister and cousin, do not even know what a feminist is. We do a lot to educate ourselves on feminist issues - that is the first step - but it is now time to take the second step and engage those who need it most.
Send a letter to a major news network, plan an assembly at your school that everyone is required to attend, create a public service announcement and put it on the morning announcements. It's time to educate the people who don't already call themselves feminists.
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