Editorial Notebook

Feminism and equality

According to http://www.dictionary.com, the definition of feminism is the following: “the doctrine advocating social, political, and all other rights of women equal to those of men.” The key word in that definition is equal. The majority of self-proclaimed “feminists” who believe that women are entitled to superiority over men, and those who are against feminism are the ones that get publicity. Think of it this way: do you think that the Tea Party’s ideas represent the entire Republican Party? Probably not, but the Tea Party gets a lot of media attention because of their radical actions. It’s the same idea with feminism. Modern feminists like myself, who just want to feel as though we are actually equal to men, aren’t given the time of day so that people can truly understand why we need feminism in our society.

Being a female is rough. Most guys would roll their eyes and try to argue after hearing any girl say that. They think that we have all these advantages and have it easier in life (being taken care of by a man, not paying for things, etc.). However, there is a harsh reality behind this supposed privilege, and feminism is the only way that women can overcome it.

A male professor recently asked me an interesting question. He was curious to understand what it’s like to be a woman at a college that is overwhelmingly male. While most of the time I don’t have any issues being a woman at RPI, sometimes it’s ridiculously obvious that there is still a stigma with women in the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics fields. When I was in engineering classes, I was a minority. That didn’t bother me so much. What did bother me was when I was in hands on classes with labs. This wasn’t always the case, but every now and then, it was apparent my male partners didn’t have the same respect for my abilities as they did for the other males in the class. I would make suggestions, and often be ignored or have my ideas put aside. One of the other male group members would either make the same suggestion I did, or we would have to hear the answer from the teaching assistant before the other group members accepted something I said as being possibly correct.

This one example shows the root of the problem: men do not view women as their equals. We’re allowed to have our opinions and independence, but not without being guided by a man’s hand. I’m sick of having to feel out of place or question myself just because of my gender. Gender should never be the center of anyone’s identity. Whatever you define as your gender, you should be equal in every single way to the person next to you. Until society realizes this, women will have to resort to feminism to help the process of gaining equality.

I need feminism because I’m at a technical school where women are the minority. I need feminism because I can’t go to work, or walk around Troy without dealing with men making inappropriate comments or advances. I need feminism because when I get a job after I graduate, I will still make less money than a man who is as equally qualified as I am. I need feminism because I should be able to go out with my friends and not have to be cautious about what I’m wearing or who I talk to. I need feminism because if I ever happened to get sexually assaulted, somehow I probably asked for it, even if I said no. I need feminism because there’s still debate over what I can and cannot do with my own body, referring to birth control and abortion. And I definitely need feminism for those who would respond to this notebook saying that the reason I’m frustrated is because it’s my time of the month.