Why College Students Still Think Feminism is Critical

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We don’t need feminism because we are all equal now, right? Wrong. If Americans pride ourselves on being one of the most progressive countries, why do we rank as the 45th best country when it comes to gender equality, according to the World Economic Forum, and not further up? While great strides have been made, feminism is still so incredibly important. Feminism truly gets down to fighting the inequalities affecting people of all genders, races and sexualities, even if they don’t affect you personally. Given today’s political climate, feminism should not be discounted but instead further supported.

Here’s how students from across the nation feel about feminism.

“Feminism means sitting at a dinner table with a diverse group of people and making sure that everyone has food — that the straight white men are not getting any better food than the queer black women — and speaking up about it. Speaking up for those that don’t have food at the dinner table doesn’t mean that the straight white men don’t deserve food. Yes, everyone needs food, but more attention needs to be brought to those that don’t. The wage gap is shockingly not the most pressing matter that needs to be addressed— if you think about feminism on a larger scale, there are so many more problems, like female genital mutilation, acid attacks, child marriages and sex slavery. It’s important to remember that feminism is not just about the wage gap, but so much more.” – Darlene Ngo, University of San Diego, Class of 2020

“To me, feminism is about equality and justice. It is about women empowering women, men empowering women and women empowering men. Also feminism is all about intersectionality. Fighting for human rights always matters since change must start within you. One thing I have noticed is that certain feminists claim to be feminists while focusing solely on ‘white feminism’ while failing to take into account the other ethnic groups.” – Abby Levine, Syracuse University, Class of 2019

“Feminism means the right to be as strong as we truly are. Without women the world would not be a reality. We as women hold the world together and are not acknowledged for our great efforts because we get coined with the terms weak, girly and feminine. Overall, feminism is important because it is attempting to make men aware of the utmost power women have. I think there is typically a misconception that men rule the world, but with feminism, the truth and capabilities of women come out.” – Tristan Dornfeld, University of Oklahoma, Class of 2020

“Feminism is not something that aims to place women on a pedestal over men, but to empower women to stand up for themselves and take charge in a world where men have the upper hand. It’s something that I believe everybody should support so long as they believe that all humans are valuable and valid members of society, and deserve fair treatment free from gender based discrimination. Like any social movement for change, it addresses a huge and controversial problem in our society and aims to fix it, giving people hope and empowerment along the way. Everybody needs feminism. I need feminism because my gender shouldn’t be a factor of my worth.” – Kali Bowden, Syracuse University, Class of 2020

“Fighting for human rights still matters because there are still groups of people that do not have certain rights as others. So yes, it is still very prevalent in the world and in America with women, people of color, the LGBTQ+ community and more. I do have a personal preference for certain spokeswomen of the cause because these poised, smart, and well-spoken females are empowered and they are some of my biggest role models. These women are Emma Watson, a UN Women Goodwill Ambassador and key player in launching the campaign HeForShe, and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, who delivered a Tedx talk titled: ‘We should all be feminists’.” – Bella Limber, Oklahoma State University, Class of 2020

“Feminism is the belief that women have the same rights and respect as men. So much talent is lost when women are not given the same resources or respect as men. Because ‘she’s so shrill’ should never be the reason not to vote for a presidential candidate. Having a stay-at-home dad and a breadwinning mother is seen as unusual to some people, but not to me. My mom’s a freaking badass, and I’m so thankful that she raised me to realize that every woman has the potential to be a badass too.” – Tara Kielty, Syracuse University, Class of 2020

“I don’t want to be put on a pedestal because I’m ‘fragile’, or talked down to like I don’t understand a simple conversation. Because, guess what? I can hit a baseball farther than some men, just like I’m sure many men can make a better sandwich than me. I grew up being told that there are no need for feminists because we are already equal, but since leaving my sheltered life in Connecticut I’ve realized that is not the truth. Sure I can vote or become a doctor or lawyer if I do please, but I still have to fear walking down the street. If I can’t mind my own business without being run out of a university-owned building by a man I have never seen before, then I need feminism. Do I think it will happen in my lifetime? Maybe, but from what I’ve witnessed in my everyday life I don’t think it’ll happen soon, which is all the more reason to never give up fighting.” – Meaghan Clark, Syracuse University, Class of 2019

“To me feminism is more than an idea, it is a mindset and movement. I need radical feminism because it is my right to be recognized, represented and visible. Right now, more than ever we, the underrepresented, need to be louder than ever to make sure these people hear us and at least try to understand us. My freshmen year I took a taxi to a Halloween store in North Syracuse. As soon as I walked in I felt a weird energy. I was probably the only person of color in sight. I only came to get two pairs of bunny ears, but as soon as I paid and tried to leave I was immediately stopped by the manager. That is when my little fiery Latina warrior side came out, and I threatened to take this incident to a local news station for racial profiling and discrimination. If this story is not evidence enough of why we need human rights in order to eliminate racial stereotypes, prejudices and inequality than I do not know what is.” – Crystal Letona, Syracuse University, Class of 2019

“To me personally, feminism is the driving force in almost everything that I do. Feminism is the reason why I fight to be in politics, as I strongly believe that we need just as many women as we do men in our representation in order to get legislation passed. Feminism is the reason why I speak loudly, why I am fiercely opinionated and why I protest and fight for our equal treatment. Every single person needs feminism. Men especially need feminism to understand the trials that women face on a daily basis, and to comprehend their given status as a man and do something to change that. The biggest thing I would like to see changed is women’s healthcare. For some reason, this country has put women, and especially women of color or of low income, with little to no healthcare support.” – Maddi Cole, American University, Class of 2020

Feeling inspired? Check out these five campaigns that scream #feminism.

1. The Vagina Monologues – Eve Esler

Written by Tony award winning playwright, performer and activist Eve Ensler, The Vagina Monologues collects stories and monologues from female voices, bringing light to many common female experiences. Since its start, the monologues have been translated into over 48 languages and performed in over 140 countries. The funds and awareness brought by the Vagina Monologues and Ensler’s other works led her to create a global movement called V-Day which aims to combat violence against women and girls. Productions of the Vagina Monologues take place in cities all over the world and across many college campuses like Syracuse University.

2. The Nude Project – Heist Studios

Have you ever gone out to purchase a “nude” article of clothing? Has it ever actually matched your skin tone? The Nude Project aims to change exactly that. According to the project’s website, the fashion industry generally sticks to seven shades of nude which don’t represent every person on this planet. To combat this issue, Heist Studios, a hosiery brand in North London, started The Nude Project. The Nude Project aims to simply to create an inclusive nude palette that represents all skin tones. In order to do this, they are calling on women across the world to create a nude avatar that represents them by submitting a photo of your skin in good, natural light. After collecting these shades, The Nude Project plans to create tights that are a perfect match for any skin tone. They launched the campaign on July 11, 2017 and in just three hours 12,000 people joined. Within the next two days, over 50,000 people joined from all corners of the world. Now, The Nude Project has come up with over 1,000 different shades and is still counting.

3. HeforShe – UN Women

Created by UN Women and Emma Watson, AKA Hermione Granger, in 2014, HeforShe aims to mobilize one billion men to accelerate gender equality. Based on the idea that it is a human rights issue, not just a women’s issue, the campaign believes that men and boys must work as partners in the movement for the benefit of all. By using online, offline and mobile technology, HeforShe targets men on an individual level. Hundreds of thousands of men from all walks of life have already made a commitment to take steps in order to create a social and systematic change in order to achieve equality. Together those individual actions will begin to create the change needed. To get involved, go to the HeforShe website and pledge your commitment today. Accio gender equality!

4. #GirlsCount – ONE

130 million girls around the world are out of school. Denied education, they cannot reach their full potential. ONE sees this and wants the world to count them one by one and urge leaders to act because they can ensure all girls get an education. However, change won’t happen without the pressure to act. That is why they ask every single girl to count out loud in order to create the world’s longest film and they plan to deliver the message directly to those in power to make a change. All they ask is that you go to their website to claim a number. After doing so, film yourself saying it and submit it online. They will take it from there and combine the videos into the world’s longest ever film, one sure to make an impact by showing just how large that number is.

5. 50by2050 – College Magazine

50 by 2050

How is it that 51 percent of the U.S. population is female but only 20 percent of our Congress is? This clear divide causes a major lack of representation and practically removes the female voice from the conversation. We recognize this problem and have created the 50 by 2050 campaign with the goal of Congress being 50 percent female by 2050. We’ve partnered with amazing orgs like EMILY’s List, Human Rights Campaign, Emerge America, Higher Heights, She Should Run, Victory Fund, IGNITE and Running Start to make this dream a reality. By starting an interview series featuring inspirational women leaders (like Senator Tammy Duckworth), we hope to inspire young women to run for office so that we can see a change in the future. We have the power to change the statistics and therefore change the world. Stop waiting—it’s time to take action.

Allison is a sophomore Magazine Journalism major at Syracuse University. She is from Dallas, Texas and is an avid feminist, traveler and coffee lover.

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