Your Official Invitation

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Why Society Still Needs Feminism
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Because to men, a key is a device to open something. For women, it’s a weapon we hold between our fingers when we’re walking alone at night.
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Because the biggest insult for a guy is to be called a “pussy,” a “little bitch” or a “girl.” From here on out, being called a “pussy” is an effing badge of honor.
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Because last month, my politics professor asked the class if women should have equal representation in the Supreme Court, and only three out of 42 people raised their hands.
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Because rape jokes are still a thing.
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Because despite being equally broke college kids, guys are still expected to pay for dates, drinks and flowers.
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Because as a legit student group, Campus Fellowship does not allow women to lead anything involving men. Look, I know Eve was dumb about the whole apple and snake thing, but I think we can agree having a vagina does not directly impact your ability to lead a college organization.
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Because it’s assumed that if you are nice to a girl, she owes you sex — therefore, if she turns you down, she’s a bitch who’s put you in the “friend zone.” Sorry, bro, women are not machines you put kindness coins into until sex falls out.
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Because only 29 percent of American women identify as feminist, and in the words of author Caitlin Moran, “What part of ‘liberation for women’ is not for you? Is it freedom to vote? The right not to be owned by the man you marry? The campaign for equal pay? Did all that good shit get on your nerves? Or were you just drunk at the time
of the survey?”
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Because when people hear the term feminist, they honestly think of women burning bras. Dude, have you ever bought a bra? No one would burn them because they’re freaking expensive.
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Because Rush Limbaugh.
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Because we now have a record number of women in the Senate … which is a measly 20 out of 100. Congrats, USA, we’ve gone up to 78th place for women’s political representation, still below China, Rwanda and Iraq.
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Because recently I had a discussion with a couple of well-meaning Drake University guys, and they literally could not fathom how catcalling a woman walking down University Avenue is creepy and sexist. Could. Not. Fathom.
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Because on average, the tenured male professors at Drake make more than the tenured female professors.
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Because more people on campus complain about chalked statistics regarding sexual assault than complain about the existence of sexual assault. Priorities? Have them.
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Because 138 House Republicans voted against the Violence Against Women Act. All 138 felt it shouldn’t provide support for Native women, LGBT people or immigrant women. I’m kind of confused by this, because I thought LGBT people and women of color were also human beings. Weird, right?
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Because a girl was roofied last semester at a local campus bar, and I heard someone say they think she should have been more careful. Being drugged is her fault, not the fault of the person who put drugs in her drink?
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Because Chris Brown beat Rihanna so badly she was hospitalized, yet he still has fans and bestselling songs and a tattoo of an abused woman on his neck.
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Because out of 7 billion people on the planet, more than 1 billion women will be raped or beaten in their lifetimes. Women and girls have their clitorises cut out, acid thrown on them and broken bottles shoved up them as an act of war. Every second of every day. Every corner of the Earth.
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Because the other day, another friend of mine told me she was raped, and I can no longer count on both my hands the number of friends who have told me they’ve been sexually assaulted. Words can’t express how scared I am that I’m getting used to this.
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Because a brief survey of reality will tell you that we do not live in a world that values all people equally and that sucks in real, very scary ways. Because you know we live in a sexist world when an awesome thing with the name “feminism” has a weird connotation. Because if I have kids someday, I want my son to be able to have emotions and play dress up, and I want my daughter to climb trees and care more about what’s in her head than what’s on it. Because I don’t want her to carry keys between her fingers at night to protect herself.
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Because feminism is for everybody, and this is your official invitation.
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— Caitlin O’Donnell, Drake University
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One response to “Your Official Invitation

  • llcall

    I can’t remember if you were on Facebook when Jen and I and a couple of others had a long discussion about the feminist label. It was around the time that articles were coming out like Katy Perry says she’s not a feminist; Zooey Deschanel says she is even though she likes to dress girly, etc. I enjoy these conversations; sometimes I even think about readopting the feminist label. But it’s just got too much baggage for me (Caitlin Moran is somewhat indicative of some of that baggage: you either need to label yourself exactly the way I do or you are drunk or stupid). Did you see this recent article in the Atlantic? http://www.theatlantic.com/sexes/archive/2013/05/the-pros-and-cons-of-abandoning-the-word-feminist/275511/ I am sympathetic to why many people feel so strongly about the term itself as well as the ideas and causes that it typically embraces, but I more strongly identify with some of the comments on the Atlantic article about wanting another term. When I describe my own marriage, for example, I talk in “egalitarian” terms. Since I started teaching family relations classes online, it has been an interesting study in feminist ideas vs. the label. I let my students select some of the lectures I will give by vote so that it will be relevant to them. I offer some options related to feminism because I think too many students hold on to myths about the topic and don’t understand some of the history there, as well as the fact that feminism exerts a heavy influence on family life in the 20th and 21st centuries. Number of students that want to hear anything about feminism, ever: 0. No one has ever asked me for more information when the topic specifically referenced feminism. Topics that my students DO want to hear about: balancing work and family; equal partnership in marriage; teaching children about abuse; the divine feminine. I feel like I’m seeing feminism’s “brand problem” every day; so much so that it makes me defensive for it even though I myself decided to jettison the term years ago. It’s interesting time to be alive and involved in this dialogue, that’s for sure!

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