If the battle’s not over, why has feminism died?

Polish up the Susan B. Anthony dollar in your coin collections and summon sorority leaders. Feminism is in dire need of a renaissance.

The throngs of young women who tote Cosmopolitan to class and chat about how expensive their trip to the salon was, while ignoring their professor’s lectures about the need to vote and the struggles of female pioneers, need to enroll in an introductory course in women’s studies. They need to learn about the battles that early feminists undertook so that today’s women could matriculate at the college of their choice.

Unfortunately, from a glance around the UM campus, these feminists fought battles so that today’s females can do little more than glean sex tips from fashion magazines.

I am not asking for women to burn their bras, protest the UM sports department’s lack of a woman’s softball team or burn every misogynistic book in the library. What I am asking for is for people to not dismiss those who choose to engage in these rebellious acts as “feminazis.”

Women do not need to dump their halter tops for long-sleeved shirts – feminism understands that women can be sexy and smart. If you are going to pose on the cover of a magazine in nothing more than your panties, however, then make a statement. Talk about how you would rather wear nothing than fur, like PETA spokesperson Pamela Anderson.

The majority of women, especially in the entertainment industry, need to put the brains back in beauty and brains.

College women need to become feminists once again as well. A young woman in one of my history classes prefaced her remarks on the plight of enslaved women in the antebellum south by saying, “Not that I’m a feminist or anything like that.”

My male professor chuckled and quickly retorted “Of course not. Why would you want women to have the right to vote or to be paid the same salary as a man with the same job? It’s ludicrous!”

Feminism is not a thing of the past. Women are still struggling against the glass ceiling in the corporate world. Women are still depicted as either happily married, stay-at-home moms or working single mothers on TV, just as they are likely to be called bitches, lesbians or whores when they do not conform to stereotypes.

Feminism does not need to be put out to pasture and joked about. The need for feminism is clearly pronounced as the genital mutilation of young girls in Africa goes on and women are still overwhelming minorities in large firms and corporations. Feminism is begging to be revived when the Equal Rights Amendment is three states short of being added to the U.S. Constitution, and Florida Governor Jeb Bush dismisses it as “kind of a retro subject” that would be “like going back to wearing bell bottoms.”

Popping a Britney Spears CD into your stereo is not enough to understand girl power. Girl power does not reside solely in using your sexual prowess to your advantage. It lies in demanding equal pay and unfettered reproductive rights and decrying the disproportionate representation of women in the United States government.

Today’s college women and men have to understand the philosophy that underscores feminism and put it into practice in their daily lives. Read Ms. magazine, listen to Christina Aguilera’s raunchy ode to feminism “Can’t Hold Us Down” and watch Norma Rae, but most importantly, don’t be hesitant to claim your ties to feminism.

Horacio Sierra can be contacted at h.sierra@umiami.edu.

January 27, 2004


The Miami Hurricane

Student newspaper at the University of Miami

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The Miami Hurricane is the student newspaper of the University of Miami in Coral Gables, Fla. The newspaper is edited and produced by undergraduate students at UM and is published weekly on Thursdays during the regular academic year.