What does it actually mean? Feminism, the ‘F’ word in question, seems to stroke people the wrong way. Unfortunately, one would never have thought that feminism, a progressive movement towards equality, would be so misconceived by people on a university campus.
Universities are places that are supposed to allow, encourage and foster individuality and acceptance of different ways of thinking. Ideally, this is how a university should function. Yet when two young women from the University of Miami tried to reactivate a feminist organization, the National Organization for Women Campus Action Network (NOWCAN), we were denied.
The Committee on Student Organizations (COSO) stripped us of our First Amendment right, in the sense of freedom of speech and expression. Furthermore, during the process we felt a certain level of bias against the organization. Perhaps this sense of bias, or what seemed to be a form of sexism, came from the misconstrued traditional roles that women play in society.
We need feminism. Not only do we need feminism, but we need feminism on campus.
There seems to be an incredible amount of sexism displayed on a “liberal and diverse campus.” When the word feminism is mentioned, people usually react in a negative way due to the presupposed stereotypes that the term feminism evokes. For example, some common remarks from the student body have been “I hate feminists” and “gender roles are natural.”
One interesting exchange with a student went in the following way: “Are you a lesbian?” “No, why?” “Then, why are you reading Feminist Philosophy?”
These ignorant remarks prove that the need for an organization dedicated entirely to feminism should not only exist, but is imperative and necessary that it exists. Students on campus are hopefully smart, open-minded and curious about what it means to be a human being, and thus what it means to be a feminist.
NOWCAN would have provided a safe space and support system for both women and men to discuss the double standards they experience in their lives and on campus. The organization would have empowered women to believe in themselves as well as creating opportunities to help other women in our community.
In the words of Gloria Steinem, “A feminist is anyone who recognizes the equality and full humanity of women and men.”