I Am A Feminist

I Am A Feminist

No, I don't burn my bras or hate men.

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Feminism is so widely misconstrued and hated, but why? From the moment I knew what feminism was, I started calling myself a feminist.

I learned that feminism had been fighting for me since I was born and long before that.

Feminism fights for EVERYONE'S rights. Equal pay, equal opportunity, right to your body, and so much more. Feminism advocates for men who have been raped, even if the majority of the male community says "Dude, how could YOU be raped?" Feminism fights for girl's safety and right to exist. Without feminism, women wouldn't be allowed to vote. Without feminism, women wouldn't be allowed to have safe abortions. I am sick and tired of the hatred feminists get. Feminists do not hate men. They hate the patriarchy and system that put them second and last in every situation possible for thousands of years. Feminism wants me to have the same chance of getting a job that I am qualified for as a man would. Feminism wants me to live worry-free wearing the clothes I want to wear. Feminism wants to keep me safe and tear down all walls put in my way simply because I am a woman.

Since so many people don't understand the impact of feminism, I decided to ask women and men at James Madison University, The University of Virginia, and The College of William and Mary what they think feminism is and what feminism means to them.

This is what they had to say:

"I think that feminism is just about bringing equality for women, that women shouldn't be treated like an object, that they shouldn't have fewer rights than a man should." -KL, JMU Class of 2022

"To me, feminism is simply the act of supporting the equality of all women and men despite the social constructs that have been put in place over the years. Everyone should be able to express who they are without fear of judgment or exclusion. Feminism has become such a dirty word and has been manipulated in ways that portray someone who calls themselves a feminist as a self-righteous man hater and as someone who puts women over everyone else in society when that simply is not the case. In order for there to be equality for everyone, the true idea of feminism needs to first be understood." -JP, W&M; Class of 2022

"It's about being equal, it's a really positive thing. People have the wrong interpretation of what it actually is." -CB, UVA Class of 2022

"I believe that feminism is about… men have always had rights, telling women what to do with their body. Feminism is not saying that men are not important. For me, feminism is saying that we have importance besides being sex objects and cooks. We have our own lives and careers. I feel like people think feminists hate when guys hold the door open for them, but that's not right. Uber feminists (not real feminists) are what is portrayed. It's the same thing with Black Lives Matter and the Me Too movement. Any movement that threatens the heterosexual, white patriarchy is demonized." -AA, UVA Class of 2022

"I would think that feminism has a generally negative stigma, which I really don't understand. If I were to say one of my parents were a doctor, many people would think it's my dad. But it's my mom. I think she embodies feminism. She breaks social construct in what is perceived as a man's role. Whenever I think of a doctor now, I immediately think it's a woman. Feminism is being unafraid to break the social construct and change perspectives." -MH, UVA Class of 2022

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An Open Letter To Democrats From A Millennial Republican

Why being a Republican doesn't mean I'm inhuman.
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Dear Democrats,

I have a few things to say to you — all of you.

You probably don't know me. But you think you do. Because I am a Republican.

Gasp. Shock. Horror. The usual. I know it all. I hear it every time I come out of the conservative closet here at my liberal arts university.

SEE ALSO: What I Mean When I Say I'm A Young Republican

“You're a Republican?" people ask, saying the word in the same tone that Draco Malfoy says “Mudblood."

I know that not all Democrats feel about Republicans this way. Honestly, I can't even say for certain that most of them do. But in my experience, saying you're a Republican on a liberal college campus has the same effect as telling someone you're a child molester.

You see, in this day and age, with leaders of the Republican Party standing up and spouting unfortunately ridiculous phrases like “build a wall," and standing next to Kim Davis in Kentucky after her release, we Republicans are given an extreme stereotype. If you're a Republican, you're a bigot. You don't believe in marriage equality. You don't believe in racial equality. You don't believe in a woman's right to choose. You're extremely religious and want to impose it on everyone else.

Unfortunately, stereotypes are rooted in truth. There are some people out there who really do think these things and feel this way. And it makes me mad. The far right is so far right that they make the rest of us look bad. They make sure we aren't heard. Plenty of us are fed up with their theatrics and extremism.

For those of us brave enough to wear the title “Republican" in this day and age, as millennials, it's different. Many of us don't agree with these brash ideas. I'd even go as far as to say that most of us don't feel this way.

For me personally, being a Republican doesn't even mean that I automatically vote red.

When people ask me to describe my political views, I usually put it pretty simply. “Conservative, but with liberal social views."

“Oh," they say, “so you're a libertarian."

“Sure," I say. But that's the thing. I'm not really a libertarian.

Here's what I believe:

I believe in marriage equality. I believe in feminism. I believe in racial equality. I don't want to defund Planned Parenthood. I believe in birth control. I believe in a woman's right to choose. I believe in welfare. I believe more funds should be allocated to the public school system.

Then what's the problem? Obviously, I'm a Democrat then, right?

Wrong. Because I have other beliefs too.

Yes, I believe in the right to choose — but I'd always hope that unless a pregnancy would result in the bodily harm of the woman, that she would choose life. I believe in welfare, but I also believe that our current system is broken — there are people who don't need it receiving it, and others who need it that cannot access it.

I believe in capitalism. I believe in the right to keep and bear arms, because I believe we have a people crisis on our hands, not a gun crisis. Contrary to popular opinion, I do believe in science. I don't believe in charter schools. I believe in privatizing as many things as possible. I don't believe in Obamacare.

Obviously, there are other topics on the table. But, generally speaking, these are the types of things we millennial Republicans get flack for. And while it is OK to disagree on political beliefs, and even healthy, it is NOT OK to make snap judgments about me as a person. Identifying as a Republican does not mean I am the same as Donald Trump.

Just because I am a Republican, does not mean you know everything about me. That does not give you the right to make assumptions about who I am as a person. It is not OK for you to group me with my stereotype or condemn me for what I feel and believe. And for a party that prides itself on being so open-minded, it shocks me that many of you would be so judgmental.

So I ask you to please, please, please reexamine how you view Republicans. Chances are, you're missing some extremely important details. If you only hang out with people who belong to your own party, chances are you're missing out on great people. Because, despite what everyone believes, we are not our stereotype.

Sincerely,

A millennial Republican

Cover Image Credit: NEWSWORK.ORG

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Why The Idea Of 'No Politics At The Dinner Table' Takes Place And Why We Should Avoid It

When did having a dialogue become so rare?

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Why has the art of civilized debate and conversation become unheard of in daily life? Why is it considered impolite to talk politics with coworkers and friends? Expressing ideas and discussing different opinions should not be looked down upon.

I have a few ideas as to why this is our current societal norm.

1. Politics is personal.

Your politics can reveal a lot about who you are. Expressing these (sometimes controversial) opinions may put you in a vulnerable position. It is possible for people to draw unfair conclusions from one viewpoint you hold. This fosters a fear of judgment when it comes to our political beliefs.

Regardless of where you lie on the spectrum of political belief, there is a world of assumption that goes along with any opinion. People have a growing concern that others won't hear them out based on one belief.

As if a single opinion could tell you all that you should know about someone. Do your political opinions reflect who you are as a person? Does it reflect your hobbies? Your past?

The question becomes "are your politics indicative enough of who you are as a person to warrant a complete judgment?"

Personally, I do not think you would even scratch the surface of who I am just from knowing my political identification.

2. People are impolite.

The politics themselves are not impolite. But many people who wield passionate, political opinion act impolite and rude when it comes to those who disagree.

The avoidance of this topic among friends, family, acquaintances and just in general, is out of a desire to 'keep the peace'. Many people have friends who disagree with them and even family who disagree with them. We justify our silence out of a desire to avoid unpleasant situations.

I will offer this: It might even be better to argue with the ones you love and care about, because they already know who you are aside from your politics, and they love you unconditionally (or at least I would hope).

We should be having these unpleasant conversations. And you know what? They don't even need to be unpleasant! Shouldn't we be capable of debating in a civilized manner? Can't we find common ground?

I attribute the loss of political conversation in daily life to these factors. 'Keeping the peace' isn't an excuse. We should be discussing our opinions constantly and we should be discussing them with those who think differently.

Instead of discouraging political conversation, we should be encouraging kindness and understanding. That's how we will avoid the unpleasantness that these conversations sometimes bring.

By avoiding them altogether, we are doing our youth a disservice because they are not being exposed to government, law, and politics, and they are not learning to deal with people and ideas that they don't agree with.

Next Thanksgiving, talk politics at the table.

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