Friends Don’t Let Friends Be White Feminists

Friends Don’t Let Friends Be White Feminists

I am white. I am a feminist. But I try very hard to avoid being a "white feminist."

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Preamble 1: I'm not sure if you're aware, but it's a humid, grey April afternoon and being a woman comes with extra challenges, to which I definitely did not agree but they were probably in some fine print that I skimmed. Bummer. Anyway, feminism! Feminism's place in 2019 is contested but I am coming from a place of having heard many of the sides; given that, it would be lovely if you would hear my side.

Preamble 2: Before I get into this topic, I want to acknowledge the place of privilege from which I come. Look at my fully Irish name, I am white. Believing in social, economic, and political gender equality, I am a feminist. But I try very hard to avoid being a "white feminist". As a student at Texas A&M;, a university that sometimes strays into homogeneity in both thought and demographic, I've been noticing a pattern in many conversations concerning gender equality. The pattern is that of white feminism.

White feminism is a Western-styled picking and choosing of feminism that entails a set of beliefs tolerating the ignorance of issues that mostly impact women of color.

Contrast this philosophy with intersectional feminism, which recognizes multiple identities and experiences within us, while promoting more united gender equality. Without intersectionality, our essence cannot stand against oppression and stand for equality without acknowledgment of the nuances of different historical struggles. As women, we face difficulties, but not all women face the same oppressions and marginalizations – and that cannot be overlooked in narratives.

As far as gendered-based violence goes, the Justice Department estimates that one in five women and one in seventy-one men will experience rape in the US. However, here's where the necessary nuances come in.

Women and men of color are more likely to experience this form of violence than white women or men. Women and men who are LGBTQ+are more likely to experience this form of violence than straight women or men. Lower income women and men are more likely to experience this form of violence than women or men in the highest income brackets.

So, yes, one in five women and one in seventy-one men are rape victims. But quoting that statistic without disambiguating the data can mislead readers or listeners of the ways that different identities amalgamate into this final number. Essentially, disproportional oppressions exist. All people are at risk for gendered violence, specifically rape, in America, but some people are more at risk.

If you need more of an explanation, think of the following analogy. White feminism is to intersectional feminism what #AllLivesMatter is to #BlackLivesMatter. Everyday Feminism contends, "the former's attempt at inclusiveness can actually erase the latter's acknowledgment of a unique issue that disproportionately affects a specific group of people".

If you ever find yourself guilty of white feminism, (I've been there!) know that we are all evolving. As long as you are open to education, we are all on the same side.

Here are three vital steps you can take to make your feminism intersectional!

1. Reflect on yourself. 

Reflect on your long-held beliefs based on your perspective alone could not apply to someone else. Reflect on your privileged experiences and acknowledge them for what they are.

2. Think about others. 

Once you've figured your internal state out from step one, you ought to look at the experiences of others with the same level of validity as your own. Ethically, feminism focuses on equality. Yes, that means stopping sexism, but it also expands to mean stopping complicated systemic oppressions that affect more than just white women. That said, white feminists are not the enemy in the fight for equality, rather, they are underinformed.

3. Don’t be afraid to grow. 

Say you were wrong. There's less shame in it than you think. In fact, I genuinely wish our culture was more forgiving of people who made an honest mistake in their past, but their hearts were/are in the right place.

Allow yourself to move onwards and upwards. We are all works-in-progress. We are all striving for better versions of ourselves. Intention is everything and your intention should be to always learn.

Intersectional feminism is challenging, like all educations. If you're doing it right, it should force you to think and even make you feel a little bit uncomfortable. After all, while feminism is here to help, it is not here for your (or my) comfort.

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So, You Want To Be A Nurse?

You're going to find that nursing isn't really about the medicine or the assessments. Being a nurse is so much more than anything that you can learn in school. Textbooks can't teach you compassion and no amount of lecture time will teach you what it truly means to be a nurse.

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To the college freshman who just decided on nursing,

I know why you want to be a nurse.

Nurses are important. Nursing seems fun and exciting, and you don't think you'll ever be bored. The media glorifies navy blue scrubs and stethoscopes draped around your neck, and you can't go anywhere without hearing about the guaranteed job placement. You passed AP biology and can name every single bone in the human body. Blood, urine, feces, salvia -- you can handle all of it with a straight face. So, you think that's what being a nurse is all about, right? Wrong.

You can search but you won't find the true meaning of becoming a nurse until you are in the depths of nursing school and the only thing getting you through is knowing that in a few months, you'll be able to sign the letters "BSN" after your name...

You can know every nursing intervention, but you won't find the true meaning of nursing until you sit beside an elderly patient and know that nothing in this world can save her, and all there's left for you to do is hold her hand and keep her comfortable until she dies.

You'll hear that one of our biggest jobs is being an advocate for our patients, but you won't understand until one day, in the middle of your routine physical assessment, you find the hidden, multi-colored bruises on the 3-year-old that won't even look you in the eyes. Your heart will drop to your feet and you'll swear that you will not sleep until you know that he is safe.

You'll learn that we love people when they're vulnerable, but you won't learn that until you have to give a bed bath to the middle-aged man who just had a stroke and can't bathe himself. You'll try to hide how awkward you feel because you're young enough to be his child, but as you try to make him feel as comfortable as possible, you'll learn more about dignity at that moment than some people learn in an entire lifetime.

Every class will teach you about empathy, but you won't truly feel empathy until you have to care for your first prisoner in the hospital. The guards surrounding his room will scare the life out of you, and you'll spend your day knowing that he could've raped, murdered, or hurt people. But, you'll walk into that room, put your fears aside, and remind yourself that he is a human being still, and it's your job to care, regardless of what he did.

Each nurse you meet will beam with pride when they tell you that we've won "Most Trusted Profession" for seventeen years in a row, but you won't feel that trustworthy. In fact, you're going to feel like you know nothing sometimes. But when you have to hold the sobbing, single mother who just received a positive breast cancer diagnosis, you'll feel it. Amid her sobs of wondering what she will do with her kids and how she's ever going to pay for treatment, she will look at you like you have all of the answers that she needs, and you'll learn why we've won that award so many times.

You'll read on Facebook about the nurses who forget to eat and pee during their 12-hour shifts and swear that you won't forget about those things. But one day you'll leave the hospital after an entire shift of trying to get your dying patient to eat anything and you'll realize that you haven't had food since 6:30 A.M. and you, too, will be one of those nurses who put everything else above themselves.

Too often we think of nursing as the medicine and the procedures and the IV pumps. We think of the shots and the bedpans and the baths. We think all the lab values and the blood levels that we have to memorize. We think it's all about the organs and the diseases. We think of the hospitals and the weekends and the holidays that we have to miss.

But, you're going to find that nursing isn't really about the medicine or the assessments. Being a nurse is so much more than anything that you can learn in school. Textbooks can't teach you compassion, and no amount of lecture time will teach you what it truly means to be a nurse.

So, you think you want to be a nurse?

Go for it. Study. Cry. Learn everything. Stay up late. Miss out on things. Give it absolutely everything that you have.

Because I promise you that the decision to dedicate your life to saving others is worth every sleepless night, failed test, or bad day that you're going to encounter during these next four years. Just keep holding on.

Sincerely,

The nursing student with just one year left.

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Contrary To Popular Belief, Ben Shapiro Is Not Condescending

I made a fool of myself while meeting the world's most controversial political commentator. At least he's used to it.

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Grand Canyon University security guards held back a sea of people as I walked through the gates and into the antelope gym. The "Shapiro ban" that had sparked outrage a few months before had just been lifted, and campus YAF (Young Americas Foundation) members were finally allowed to host the Daily Wire editor in chief. The only reason I was allowed access to this monumental event was because I'd pledged to help with the YAF club set-up about a week earlier. I was desperate to meet (and write about) Ben Shapiro. I received a name tag and was ushered into a room in the back of the antelope gym. I chatted nervously with another member of the YAF club as we waited for Shapiro to arrive.

Morganne Scheuerman

Finally, the 5'7" Kippah-sporting legend sauntered into the room. A smile was painted across his face as all of us (aspiring politicians and journalists) gawked at one of the most controversial figures to cross the political stage. Hating awkward silences, I "broke protocol" by walking up and introducing myself. We were supposed to fall into a photo line and keep comments/conversations to a minimum. I was quickly forced into line after shaking Ben's hand and briefly stating my name.

Morganne Scheuerman

Ben was more than cordial, smiling a lot and kindly agreeing with or laughing at all of the comments from people as he took a photo with them. When my turn came, I told myself I would say,

"I want to be a conservative journalist, so I messaged you one of my articles on Facebook once."

Instead, after I posed for a picture and looked him straight in the eyes, what came out was,

"I messaged you on Facebook once."

I messaged you on Facebook once? I started to panic, knowing that the YAF leaders were in a huge hurry and I needed to get into the antelope gym so that I could start ushering students to their seats. So, instead of trying to elaborate, I stood there like an idiot with my mouth open and then walked away. I grabbed my phone from the girl who took my Shapiro picture and covered my face with my hands.

Despite all of this, I tried to laugh off the situation and made the mistake of telling one of the YAF members about my blunder. He quickly added my quote to the YAF group chat on Facebook. I became an instant meme. Honestly, none of this really got to me since I was just happy to be in the same room as someone who could stump even the most intelligent political leaders. I forgot all about my embarrassing moment as I helped the leaders usher students to the right seats. Finally, the event started, and I took my seat to the right of the stage. After listening to his brilliant speech on "why we need both faith and reason," I felt prompted to ask him a question during the Q&A; time at the end of the event.

Morganne Scheuerman

I fell into (yet another) line with what I suspected was about 35 guys and one other girl student. Standing in front of thousands of people was not my favorite thing to do, so I shifted my weight nervously and found it extremely difficult to focus on or remember any of the other questions that were asked. There were about 10 people still in front of me when I noticed all of the whisperings from the chief organizer of the event. They were about to cut off people off and end the event. I prayed silently, thinking, "God, if you want me to ask this question, you already made me get up here, so you have to make it happen. I'm not going to ask to move to the front of the line. It's up to you." I already knew which question I wanted to ask, and I knew that God was the one who'd put it in my mind, but I was terrified. My boss came up behind me and whispered, "Do you want to ask your question."

I hesitated, but reluctantly nodded, "Yeah. I do."

Just like that, I was moved to the front of the question-line. I introduced myself to another usher as I waited nervously. I tried not to rehearse what I was about to say since that strategy hadn't worked for me the first time.

Morganne Scheuerman

"Uhm, politically, I agree with you on everything. But, religiously, I'm a Christian. So, I was just wondering why you don't think Jesus is the Messiah?"

He smiled and paused,

"So...so, right."

The whole crowd started making noise, saying in unison, "oooooh," as Ben Shapiro laughed. He quickly recovered, saying,

"The reason I usually don't have these theological discussions is mainly that, in the words of a famous person, 'I find it divisive.'"

He then went on to explain that the Jewish people are expecting a political figure, instead of God "in the flesh." Although I normally love listening to these kinds of discussions, all I could focus on was the fact that my heart felt like it was going to beat out of my chest from resisting the urge to run from the sea of gawking people.

After the event was over, Ben's bodyguard slipped him out of the gym almost noticeably as the rest of the YAF club cleaned up and took some last-minute pictures. I couldn't stop shaking from the adrenaline rush of speaking in front of Ben Shapiro and a lot of people I either knew really well or had never seen before.

Relief washed over me. Thank God my second conversation with Ben Shapiro was so much better than the first. They were both equally entertaining though.

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