Surprise, Feminism Isn't BS And Yes, We Do Still Need It

Surprise, Feminism Isn't BS And Yes, We Do Still Need It

It's time to clear the air on some issues around feminism.

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There is a whole lot of uncertainty of what exactly feminism is. The exact intentions and meaning of the movement have become distorted by the media, radical feminists/"feminazis," and men who take feminism as an affront to their masculinity.

So let's get this very clear right now: Feminism is about giving ALL* women the same, equal rights and opportunities that men receive.

To give you an exact definition, courtesy of Merriam-Webster Dictionary:

1: the theory of the political, economic, and social equality of the sexes
2: organized activity on behalf of women's rights and interest

*ALL meaning women of every race, class, sexuality, and religion, not just straight white middle-class women. More on that later.

Feminism isn't just protesting, marching, and major acts of defiance.

This is apparently what a lot of people seem to think feminism is and honestly, it's frustrating. These are just part of the feminist movement, not the whole thing. Just like with every movement, you need public acts to put a message out there and start the ball rolling.

Feminism is talked down upon because people often don't fully understand what it really is. There's the common misconception that feminism is about being better than men, which is blatantly wrong. That's like saying the Black Lives Matter movement is saying black lives are better than white lives, when it's really saying black lives are just as important as white lives. Feminism is about creating a society where women can be viewed as equal to men, not lesser than. Not objects.

"But we don't need feminism anymore, women are treated much better now than they used to be! They have much more rights now!"

That's so great - but "better" and "more rights" doesn't mean all women are treated better, let alone as they deserve to be treated - as human beings. That doesn't mean women have all the same rights men do. Shit, women are slapped with laws controlling their bodies (*cough abortion cough pro-choice*) and necessary medications to survive (*cough birth control coverage rollback*), but you'd be hard pressed to find such laws on men.

Can we also talk about how most women who say this kind of stuff are women who, dare I say, don't need feminism as much as other women do? I'm very aware of how that sounds, but let's face it: some women need the feminist ideology to be a reality so much more than other women.

These women who claim we're already equal neglect to recall the many women, especially women of color, LGBTQ women, lower-class women, and religious women, who are still disenfranchised and treated in sexist manners. Who are marginalized even within the feminist movement. Modern feminism is primarily white middle-class feminism, and the movement needs to work more on being more intersectional, working towards change and equality for all women.

Speaking of religion: for the love of god (pun intended), please don't go preaching how "God intended man to be the provider and woman to support him."

That is what's called a personal belief, not a fact. If you start saying this and back up your statement with Bible quotes, I'm going to say "Stop there, please." Because in that instant, you're placing religious beliefs over feminist ideology. Think of feminism like how church and state are expected to be separate when it comes to government.

That's not to say feminism and religion can't co-exist. But don't forget, we live in a world where not everyone is religious or observes the same religion. Pulling the religion card is essentially pushing your religious beliefs on others, nothing more.

"We don't need to fight the system anymore, there's women bosses and women in power already! We can be in charge!"

Yes, and that's absolutely amazing. We currently have the most women in Congress ever, just to note how far we've come. BUT. Just because some women are making it doesn't mean it's the same for all women.

Women often have to work twice as hard in business settings to be taken seriously by their male coworkers. Just because more women are entering traditionally male industries doesn't mean it's automatically good for them - there's still sexism, sexual assault, and stereotyping facing women in the workplace.

The system you say we don't need to fight anymore is the same one that blames girls for rape/sexual assault.

The system and its various institutions - federal/local government, education, news and social media, social institutions, parents, etc. - are all responsible for shaping the world we live in.

Thanks to the current system, there are boys and men out there who think they can treat a woman not as a fellow and equal human being, but as an object, less than them. The current system means it's considered socially unacceptable for women to have multiple sexual partners/enjoy sex because they're a "slut," but guys can do the same and no one bats an eye.

The #MeToo movement highlights just how many women out there don't come forward about their horrific experiences, because they saw what happened to others who did and were shut down. The current system will do anything to make it seem like it's a woman's fault for being raped or assaulted. Schools' dress codes systemically shame girls for having natural body parts and sexualize them from young ages, rather than teaching boys to be respectful and keep their hands to themselves.

The same system we don't need to fight will do anything to tear down a woman in a prominent position.

Prominent women are critiqued far more intensely than men. Michelle Obama created the School Lunch initiative, the Reach Higher Initiative, and more to help the next generation of America during her time as First Lady...and the media cared more about her arms than everything she did to give back. Just to give you an example.

You'd rather raise a family than a protest sign?

That's okay. The one thing I will say in response to that is protesting isn't a requirement for being a feminist. It's your choice what you want to do with your life and you don't have to– nor do you need to–feel obligated to protest just to be considered a feminist. Because news flash, feminism isn't just marches and protests.

You'd rather be a stay-at-home mom and let your man do the typical husband duties? That's also okay.

Different strokes for different folks. If that's what will make you happy, no one is trying to say you can no longer do that - and if anyone is, they're spewing crap. Feminism isn't "you can't be a traditional housewife anymore" or "you can't be a feminist and a housewife." Feminism is acknowledging that women can do whatever they want, whether that's being a businesswoman or a stay-at-home mom.

By the way, there's absolutely nothing wrong with wanting to keep to typical husband and wife duties. If it makes you and your husband happy and your relationship is healthy, GO FOR IT. Don't let the incorrect idea that such traditionalist behavior is "outdated," "not feminist," etc. make you feel guilty or bad for wanting that. It's your life and you're allowed to live it how you want. And you can even still be a feminist while doing it!

Feminism doesn't mean that because you're a woman, you HAVE to do things a man would traditionally do. It means you COULD do those things if you wanted to.

It's understanding that you could, that you should be able to do those things if you wanted to and not be viewed derogatorily for being able to do them. For example, knowing how to change a tire. That's typical for guys, but if you're a girl who can change your own tire, why on earth should you wait for a guy to come along and do it??

And if you'd rather let a guy do those things for you, or feel like it's wrong to do things because they're traditionally a "guy's job to do," that's okay. As I'm going to keep saying, feminism is all about what makes YOU happy.

And guys? Feminism's equality applies to you, too.

Feminism in relation to men means getting rid of gender norms and roles. It means not judging boys for wearing more "feminine" clothing or colors, enjoying "feminine" activities, etc. (Again, gender as a social construct.) Feminism for men means not judging men for doing things women traditionally do. My favorite example is how when a woman stays home with the kids, she's being a mom; but when a dad stays home with the kids, he's "babysitting." This shirt says it all:

I do ask that you please remember that just because you don't agree with a certain part of feminism (or any of it), or don't feel like a part of it applies to you, PLEASE respect others who identify as feminists. PLEASE remember that while you may be fine, many other women are struggling and treated as less than equal.

And remember:

Empowered women empower women.

Just because you are good, doesn't mean others are. Help other women grow stronger and gain the equality we all deserve.

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I Am A College Student, And I Think Free Tuition Is Unfair To Everyone Who's Already Paid For It

Stop expecting others to pay for you.

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I attend Fordham University, a private university in the Bronx.

I commute to school because I can't afford to take out more loans than I already do.

Granted, I've received scholarships because of my grades, but they don't cover my whole tuition. I am nineteen years old and I have already amassed the debt of a 40-year-old. I work part-time and the money I make covers the bills I have to pay. I come from a middle-class family, but my dad can't afford to pay off my college loans.

I'm not complaining because I want my dad to pay my loans off for me; rather I am complaining because while my dad can't pay my loans off (which, believe me, he wants too), he's about to start paying off someone else's.

During the election, Bernie frequently advocated for free college.

Now, if he knew enough about economics he would know it simply isn't feasible. Luckily for him, he is seeing his plan enacted by Cuomo in NY. Cuomo has just announced that in NY, state public college will be free.

Before we go any further, it's important to understand what 'free' means.

Nothing is free; every single government program is paid for by the taxpayers. If you don't make enough to have to pay taxes, then something like this doesn't bother you. If you live off welfare and don't pay taxes, then something like this doesn't bother you. When someone offers someone something free, it's easy to take it, like it, and advocate for it, simply because you are not the one paying for it.

Cuomo's free college plan will cost $163,000,000 in the first year (Did that take your breath away too?). Now, in order to pay for this, NY state will increase their spending on higher education to cover these costs. Putting two and two together, if the state decides to raise their budget, they need money. If they need money they look to the taxpayers. The taxpayers are now forced to foot the bill for this program.

I think education is extremely important and useful.

However, my feelings on the importance of education does not mean that I think it should be free. Is college expensive? Yes -- but more so for private universities. Public universities like SUNY Cortland cost around $6,470 per year for in-state residents. That is still significantly less than one of my loans for one semester.

I've been told that maybe I shouldn't have picked a private university, but like I said, I believe education is important. I want to take advantage of the education this country offers, and so I am going to choose the best university I could, which is how I ended up at Fordham. I am not knocking public universities, they are fine institutions, they are just not for me.

My problems with this new legislation lie in the following: Nowhere are there any provisions that force the student receiving aid to have a part-time job.

I work part-time, my sister works part-time, and plenty of my friends work part-time. Working and going to school is stressful, but I do it because I need money. I need money to pay my loans off and buy my textbooks, among other things. The reason I need money is because my parents can't afford to pay off my loans and textbooks as well as both of my sisters'. There is absolutely no reason why every student who will be receiving aid is not forced to have a part-time job, whether it be working in the school library or waitressing.

We are setting up these young adults up for failure, allowing them to think someone else will always be there to foot their bills. It's ridiculous. What bothers me the most, though, is that my dad has to pay for this. Not only my dad, but plenty of senior citizens who don't even have kids, among everyone else.

The cost of living is only going up, yet paychecks rarely do the same. Further taxation is not a solution. The point of free college is to help young adults join the workforce and better our economy; however, people my parents' age are also needed to help better our economy. How are they supposed to do so when they can't spend their money because they are too busy paying taxes?

Free college is not free, the same way free healthcare isn't free.

There is only so much more the taxpayers can take. So to all the students about to get free college: get a part-time job, take personal responsibility, and take out a loan — just like the rest of us do. The world isn't going to coddle you much longer, so start acting like an adult.

Cover Image Credit: https://timedotcom.files.wordpress.com/2017/04/free-college-new-york-state.jpg?quality=85

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Pride? Pride.

Who are we? Why are we proud?

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This past week, I was called a faggot by someone close to me and by note, of all ways. The shock rolled through my body like thunder across barren plains and I was stuck paralyzed in place, frozen, unlike the melting ice caps. My chest suddenly felt tight, my hearing became dim, and my mind went blank except for one all-encompassing and constant word. Finally, after having thawed, my rage bubbled forward like divine retribution and I stood poised and ready to curse the name of the offending person. My tongue lashed the air into a frenzy, and I was angry until I let myself break and weep twice. Later, I began to question not sexualities or words used to express (or disparage) them, but my own embodiment of them.

For members of the queer community, there are several unspoken and vital rules that come into play in many situations, mainly for you to not be assaulted or worse (and it's all too often worse). Make sure your movements are measured and fit within the realm of possible heterosexuality. Keep your music low and let no one hear who you listen to. Avoid every shred of anything stereotypically gay or feminine like the plague. Tell the truth without details when you can and tell half-truths with real details if you must. And above all, learn how to clear your search history. At twenty, I remember my days of teaching my puberty-stricken body the lessons I thought no one else was learning. Over time I learned the more subtle and more important lessons of what exactly gay culture is. Now a man with a head and social media accounts full of gay indicators, I find myself wondering both what it all means and more importantly, does it even matter?

To the question of whether it matters, the answer is naturally yes and no (and no, that's not my answer because I'm a Gemini). The month of June has the pleasure of being the time of year when the LGBT+ community embraces the hateful rhetoric and indulges in one of the deadly sins. Pride. Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera, the figures at the head of the gay liberation movement, fought for something larger than themselves and as with the rest of the LGBT+ community, Pride is more than a parade of muscular white men dancing in their underwear. It's a time of reflection, of mourning, of celebration, of course, and most importantly, of hope. Pride is a time to look back at how far we've come and realize that there is still a far way to go.

This year marks fifty years since the Stonewall Riots and the gay liberation movement launched onto the world stage, thus making the learning and embracing of gay culture that much more important. The waves of queer people that come after the AIDS crisis has been given the task of rebuilding and redefining. The AIDS crisis was more than just that. It was Death itself stalking through the community with the help of Regan doing nothing. It was going out with friends and your circle shrinking faster than you can try or even care to replenish. Where do you go after the apocalypse? The LGBT+ community was a world shut off from access by a touch of death and now on the other side, we must weave in as much life as we can.

But we can't freeze and dwell of this forever. It matters because that's where we came from, but it doesn't matter because that's not where we are anymore. We're in a time of rebirth and spring. The LGBT+ community can forge a new identity where the AIDS crisis is not the defining feature, rather a defining feature to be immortalized, mourned, and moved on from.

And to the question of what does it all mean? Well, it means that I'm gay and that I've learned the central lesson that all queer people should learn in middle school. It's called Pride for a reason. We have to shoulder the weight of it all and still hold our head high and we should. Pride is the LGBT+ community turning lemons into lemon squares and limoncello. The lemon squares are funeral cakes meant to mourn and be a familiar reminder of what passed, but the limoncello is the extravagant and intoxicating celebration of what is to come. This year I choose to combine the two and get drunk off funeral cakes. Something tells me that those who came before would've wanted me to celebrate.

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