I have been writing for the Odyssey since the second month of my freshman year and I have truly loved my experience. But one thing keeps needling at me and if I've learned anything from my time writing for this site, it is that I have both a right and an outlet to speak my mind.
I am a registered Democrat. I personally lean towards left, liberal ideals. I am a feminist. Be it where I grew up, how I was raised, or the role of religion in my life, this is how I have constructed my political outlook and voting patterns. While this is how I think, act, speak, vote, I was taught to be respectful of how others think, act, speak, and vote, regardless of if I believe their opinion to be correct.
Let me be clear about something: I am not here to argue that the conservative voices on The Odyssey are the ones being disrespectful, not by a long shot. I personally think many of the articles I have read from this perspective are remarkably well written and just as polite as any of mine have been when referencing opinions from the left. I may not agree with them, but I don't think their opinions are invalid, nor do I want to change anyone's perspective to fit my personal worldview; no one does.
The thing that I find unbelievably disrespectful and disheartening is the way in which conservative opinion articles, always (for some reason) written by young women, are promoted on Facebook by this website. Every few days, it seems as though there is another spotlighted article with a defensive headline: "I'm A Southern College Girl, I'm Not A Feminist, And I Want The Wall— Please Respect That", "I'm The Girl Who'd Rather Raise A Family Than A Feminist Protest Sign", "An Open Letter To The 'Not My President' Supporters."
In our country's current political climate, there is literally nothing more frustrating than using a difference of opinion to further divide us. It irritates me more than anything to go on Facebook and see another article advertising how a girl is pro-choice or doesn't believe in feminism or voted for Donald Trump solely to attract an appalled reaction from liberal readers.
We get it. Some women are more conservative than others.
But the Odyssey should be promoting articles focused not on fighting or defending a writer's belief system. Those articles often aggravate without starting an actual conversation. Yes, women have differing views on reproductive rights and gender roles. Yes, the definition of the word "feminism" is often controversial, largely in part to misrepresentation of the term and misogyny. Yes, it's okay for women to be conservative just as it's okay for them to be literally anything else.
What is not okay is using these differences to turn women as a whole against one another. There should be equal representation of left-leaning articles or there should be more of a forum for conversations on where our definitions of feminism differ, why some of us are pro-life, and what we can do to make sure our perspectives, completely unrelated to how conservative or liberal we are, are not harmful to others. Until we do something like this, we are all just going to keep on yelling at one another or aggressively defending our beliefs or worse, turning our backs on conversations with others who do not see eye to eye with us because we have become accustomed to arguing rather than simply speaking. There will always be women who refuse to hear the other side of the argument just as there will always be anyone like that. But the majority of women, just as people, are willing to at least chat about what makes us different.
We need to stop prioritizing page views and click-throughs at the expense of female narratives. We are more alike than we are different, and The Odyssey is in such a great position to bring women together rather than continue to drive us apart.