This is What a Feminist Looks Like

I am a feminist.  I had to take a women’s studies course to figure that out.

Sure, I spent my younger years in a male-dominated (both in numbers and patriarchal fashion) family, calling my brother, father, uncles, cousins, & innocent passerby names that ran the gamut fromsexist pig” to “chauvinist” (just imagine how well THAT went over…), thinking that was the way to make a change.  After that brave showing of activism, I shied away from referring to myself as a feminist, given that the term reminded me of the angry, shaved-head activist stereotype.

It wasn’t until I took a women’s studies course that I learned feminism need not be radical, divisive, or ‘crazy’.

Yes, there are professors and students of women’s studies who blame men for all the downfalls of our sex.  Yes, some of these individuals engage in a fair amount of man-hating.  Unfortunately for women’s studies critics, these are not the norm.

What is most unfortunate is that these minor, stereotypical instances of what the study is perceived to be have not only permeated the media but been reinforced by a national newspaper.  The editorial in the National Post last week (find it here) was more than just thoughtless drivel and poor writing.  It displayed nothing but a lack of compassion and knowledge, and seemed to have no purpose other than to attempt to incite rage in the feminist population to prove their dated point – that all feminists are angry, man & authority-hating bitches.

Unfortunately for the National Post editorial board, the reactions incited by the piece have been more along the lines of logical analysis and rebuttal although many, myself included, remain furious.

The Walrus said it best,

“thank you National Post Editorial Board. The next time we’re called upon to defend our common sense, we’ll point to your editorial and leave our opponents to figure out the rest.”

It is unthinkable that a national newspaper, in this day and age, should feel justified in expressing the opinion that to consider women and men equal, apart from genitalia and reproductive organs, is the work of vengeful, out of line feminists and should be discouraged.  Moreover, they ascertain that hiring quotas that encourage equal representation of men, women, and minorities in the workforce are useless.

The National Post should be ashamed of itself.

Pictured: Male university students ironically wearing their “This is what a feminist looks like” t-shirts during Orientation Week 2006

As long as we have men prancing around in t-shirts emblazoned with the phrase ‘this is what a feminist looks like’ (worn ironically, and even as part of a Halloween costume), we need women’s studies.  As long as women are without equal pay, we need women’s studies.  As long as people believe that all these classes teach is man-hating, we NEED women’s studies.

More than anything, we need feminists. Don’t be afraid to speak up for what is right for fear of being labeled a radical feminist.  The only radical thing about feminism is that it works.