-

The Observer is a Student-run, daily print & online newspaper serving Notre Dame & Saint Mary's. Learn more about us.

-

viewpoint

‘I am not a feminist’

| Monday, March 21, 2016

“I’m not a feminist,” she flippantly stated as she took a bite of her sandwich. My friend who was sitting to her right immediately concurred with a fervent nod of her head. Before making any rash statements that I would surely soon regret, I worked to confirm the statement I had just heard.

“Did you just say you are not a feminist?” I asked in complete disbelief. Her response was simple; she had meant exactly what she had said. She stated that she “just doesn’t care that much.” Realizing my disgust was less than effective in changing opinions or keeping this topic of conversation afloat, I made a joke and changed the subject. I could not, however, completely erase my friend’s statement from my mind. This was not because it was particularly shocking or obscure; it was because it is a claim that I have heard time and time again from men and women alike.

Stereotypes regarding the pushy, imposing demeanor of the women who so proudly deem themselves feminists have rendered bouts of disapproval and irritated eye rolls for generations; a hasty Google search of the phrase “Feminists are annoying” renders a shocking 421,000 results. To establish this perspective in more objective terms, Merriam Webster defines the term “to annoy” as “to disturb or irritate, especially by repeated acts.” And it is true— most influential feminists adhered to this definition, relentlessly demanding change until someone finally made their requests a reality. These feminists have been, by definition, annoying—and that was exactly the intention.

In the wake of so many events regarding women’s rights in the past few years, it is important, even crucial, that every woman—and man, for that matter—understand why feminism is so important. It is crucial that every educated person does begin to care, because feminism is not simply about girl power or uniting as females or denouncing the importance of men. It is about an acknowledgement and implementation of equal rights for all people.

Let’s begin with a topic familiar to the vast majority of those reading this article: Notre Dame. The University of Notre Dame allowed women to first join an undergraduate class in the fall of 1972. Thanks to the strong voice and conviction of Father Ted and so many others who knew that women had the same right to a Notre Dame education as men, even those who now attend the University and claim they are not feminists are benefiting from the work and determination of these people. Today, female graduates from Notre Dame go on to change the world for the better, contributing to science, medicine, law, business, politics, the arts and countless other fields.

In contrast to the thousands of females who graduate from the University of Notre Dame each year, Malala Yousafzai, a Pakistani girl who is now an internationally recognized human rights activist, was shot by the Taliban for defying her country’s law prohibiting girls’ education. While there are so many people in America chiding the loud and unrelenting women who demand that the voices of the feminist movement be heard, girls such as Malala are generations behind us, still fighting for the right to learn. To deny feminism and all its causes and petitions today is to deny the legitimacy of Malala and the girls of Pakistan, Afghanistan and a number of other countries who are still simply asking to be recognized for their ability to learn and contribute.

To sit in the classrooms of DeBartolo, Mendoza and Jordan every day and claim we are not feminists is to claim that we are not grateful for the privilege of education that so many girls are denied. Because of those who repeatedly, unabashedly demanded more, who insisted that their voices be heard, asserting that the minds of women were worth developing and cultivating, the world has begun to embrace a deeper sense of equality. So today, as a proud feminist, I thank Notre Dame, I thank Father Ted and I ask all women to consider the privileges granted due to the relentless actions of past feminists. I ask everyone to consider how advocating for the many causes feminism supports could allow other girls and women across the world to truly reap the benefits we as Notre Dame students so often take for granted.

The fight for feminism is far from finished. Malala cannot return to Pakistan due to her insistence upon the right to education. Today in America, equally qualified women still make less money than their male counterparts. There are countless grievances that keep feminists asking for more. To claim one is not a feminist is to claim that these problems are not worth fighting for. Every person, man or woman, should embrace the ideals that feminism represents, because they have no easy solutions; these issues require people with strong minds and voices, those who can continue to face being deemed frustrating nuisances, but who will, like the inspiring feminists of the past, see anything less than change as inadequate.

 

Ellie Welch

senior

March 4

The views expressed in this Letter to the Editor are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

Tags: , , ,

About Letter to the Editor

Letters to the Editor can be submitted by all members of the Notre Dame community. To submit a letter to the Viewpoint Editor, email viewpoint@ndsmcobserver.com

Contact Letter
  • Excellent letter, Ellie. Looking forward to you soon being a fellow alum! 🙂

  • Johnny Whichard

    A lot of young Americans grow up in areas where their only exposure to “feminists” has been the radical men-hating, shove-it-down-your-throat, and obnoxious types of “activists”. Don’t hate on somebody for not wanting to jump onto your cause when they could be exhausted from dealing with more radical people from your side of the fence.

    • João Pedro Santos

      LOL, men who hate women wanting to define feminism as “women who hate men”.

  • MC

    I believe in principles of equality and spreading human rights, but let’s not pretend the word “Feminist” means equal rights for men and women anymore in this country. The meaning of words and the political movements they denote are shaped by the leaders of those political movements and the use of those words. To be a feminist today in the United States, you are compelled to vote for Democrats, approve of abortion, support free contraception, support labor laws that have dubious economic backing, and ignore the issues of men because they are still “in power”. So, no, I am not a feminist, and I will not identify as a feminist unless the movement changes.

    • João Pedro Santos

      So you complain that, to be a feminist, you have to support gender equality and freedom of choice?

      • MC

        People like you are exactly the reason I’m not a feminist. I don’t think there is a right to an abortion and none of my views objectively deny the equality of the sexes. I believe that men and women are equal, but if I have to be a liberal Democrat to be a feminist, I’m out.

        • João Pedro Santos

          You aren’t against gender equality “because of me”. You are against gender equality because you are a bad person.

          • Kevin Weinberg

            Yep. This ^^ is also why I hate feminism too.

            People like Joao Pedro Santos.

            “You’re a bad person because you disagree with me.”

            No, Joao. YOU’RE a bad person for judging others without knowing them.

          • João Pedro Santos

            “You’re a bad person for juding slave owners without knowing them.”
            “You’re a bad person for judging nazis without knowing them.”
            “You’re a bad person for judging the KKK without knowing them.”
            That’s how stupid you sound.

          • Kevin Weinberg

            The nazis picked up babies, many of them Jewish, and threw them directly into fire.

            The KKK tied black men to trees and set them on fire while they were still alive.

            Slave owners robbed people of their entire lives and forced them to work on plantations.

            Which of those 3 are you comparing me to?
            That’s how stupid YOU sound. Feminism = scum.

          • João Pedro Santos
          • João Pedro Santos

            For someone who says gender equality is scum, it isn’t a surprise that you seem to deny some things that you were taught in History classes, like this:
            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Triangle_Shirtwaist_Factory_fire

          • MC

            This is a perfect example of the absolute breakdown of civil discourse in this country. You can vilify me all you want, but the more you ignore, instead of confront, the arguments for pro-life and small government policies, the more they will prevail.

          • João Pedro Santos

            “Small government”? With the largest army in the world and with the largest incarcerated population in the world (way bigger than China, which is a dictatorship with 4 times more population)? Are you kidding me?
            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FopyRHHlt3M

          • João Pedro Santos

            Please don’t call it “pro-life”. There is nothing “pro-life” with this:
            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Death_of_Savita_Halappanavar

          • John Robin

            And there, folks, is yet another ad hominem attack.

  • You know very well there are qualifications as to who gets to be a feminist. So why bother acting like we non feminists are sinply uneducated and unenlightened common folk who need to yout condescending and patronizing enlightened help to “get

    When the core of your movement is surrounded on filth like killing unborn babies out of pure convenicence “rights”, hate for domestic life and stay at home mothers, portrayal of marriage as a prison and one night stands and sexual promiscuity like the liberator, getting women and girls to reject their femininity to be masculine and getting men and boys to reject their masculinity to be more feminine, then expect some people to oppose your agenda.
    (There are even liberal leaning individuals who refuse to carry the feminist label as well.)

    You topsy turvy banshees and manginas have nothing to do with human dignity. You feminists exploit human rights violations and perpetuate professional victimhood through your manipulation of statistics and tragedies.

    You feminists cherry pick female victims and use them like litte pawns on a chessboard to score some points against your enemies with.

    You cherrypick specific cases like female rape victims in order to create your silly narrative of female opression being the history of the world by some boogeyman male monster elite system, deliberately created to keep women down.

    You feminists are dishonest, distortive, and manipulative. You have already politicized gender and you are gender politicizing human rights violations.

    • João Pedro Santos

      So you say that people who support gender equality are dishonest and manipulative? What a stupid misogynyist.

      • Clementine

        Thanks for proving her point idiot.

        • João Pedro Santos

          As usual, when lacking arguments, misogynyists resort to insults.

          • Punta Venyage

            ^ says the one who is always first to insult. Lol

  • RandallPoopenmeyer

    There are many different types of feminists. The types that scream against the modeling world for objectifying women are feminists, and the types that “objectify” themselves for empowerment are also feminists.
    The loudest feminists I see focus on non issues like cat calling and unrealistic bodily expectations for women.
    To me, feminism is making sure that women, and men, all over the world have access to security, education, healthcare and the necessities for survival like food and water.

    • João Pedro Santos

      So, according to you, sexual harassment is a non-issue? Really?

      • RandallPoopenmeyer

        Catcalling is not sexual harassment, grow up.

        • João Pedro Santos

          You aren’t very good with definitions, right?

        • João Pedro Santos

          “Handslapping is not physical assault, grow up.”

          • RandallPoopenmeyer

            I didn’t say handslapping, I said catcalling.

    • MC

      Making sure that men and women all over the world have access to those things is just someone who believes in the doctrine of human rights. Why is it necessary to use the title of feminist?

      • João Pedro Santos

        Why should we call it H2O when we can call it water?

      • RandallPoopenmeyer

        Heh, I don’t know, I guess I am just a normal human trying to be equal.

  • Punta Venyage

    Modern feminism is well established to be based on false premises; take the greatest conspiracy theory of them all – the PATRIARCHY!

    Unfortunately divorce rates are higher than they have ever been, women are unhappier than they have ever been, and family structure is dire jeopardy as we look at the upcoming generations.
    Feminism or 1960′-current progressivism seem to be the biggest contributors to these factors.

    • João Pedro Santos

      “Unfortunately divorce rates are higher than they have ever been”
      A couple realizing that they don’t like each other and so deciding respectfully to live their lives separately instead of living a lie. That must be really awful!

      • Punta Venyage

        Much of leftist thought is based on vanity and an elevation of self.

        Divorce is harmful to children and undermines familial stability. It’s not just about the selfish feels of the individual.

        Two people don’t “like” each other? Didn’t they “like” each other before? They certainly must have “liked” each other enough to get married.
        The only thing that changes, in most cases, is the partner’s focus, attitude, and perspective.

        You tend to focus on all the good qualities, while biasing against the unfavorable ones in the early stage of relationships and then you focus more on the unfavorable qualities later on while ignoring the good ones.
        “Liking” someone is purely a matter of attitude, perspective, and where you focus your awareness.

        Most divorces (at least 70%, which excludes those pressuring the male to initiate for appearance sake) are initiating. The main reason? “I am no longer haapppy.” And this elevation of personal feeling and pleasure is leading to both women and men experience more unhappiness, and dissolution of the nuclear family unit.

        For further insight, I would do research on anti-psychotic & anti-anxiety medication usage trends for women over the last two decades, and think about how society has changed over the same time frame.

        (PS. It shouldn’t even have to be mentioned here if the conversation is sincere, but infidelity and abuse is obviously a completely separate issue, and is the gross minority for why people end marriages, so not that relevant)

        • João Pedro Santos

          And here is someone who still lives in the beginning of the 20th century.

          • Punta Venyage

            2016 is technically in the 21st century.

          • João Pedro Santos

            And you live in 1916, which is in the beginning of the 20th century.

          • Punta Venyage

            I live in 2016, Joao.

            These are issues that society is currently dealing with. You can cover your eyes and ears if they trigger you, but they’re still happening. The choice is whether or not you want to help find a solution to make it better for the next generation, assuming you can see past your own narcissism.

          • João Pedro Santos

            Misogynyists like you are surely an issue.

          • Punta Venyage

            You are a bully.

          • Punta Venyage

            To those reading, see how radicals like Joao are constantly trying to avoid talking about the subjects and offer arguments, but try to intimidate and silence with name-calling and character attacks.

            Joao never offers a thoughtful response to those he disagrees with but will readily attack and distort. Stand up to these kinds of people!

          • João Pedro Santos

            Radical: “of or going to the root or origin”
            Feminism: “the doctrine advocating social, political, and all other rights of women equal to those of men.”
            Misogyny: “hatred, dislike, or mistrust of women, or prejudice against women.”

            Hence if someone is not a feminist, then they don’t think women and men should have the same rights therefore they have prejudice against women, that is, they’re misogynyists. So I’m not name calling, I’m just stating a fact.

            If you find yourself “offended” and “triggered” by facts, you can always go to a “safe space”.

          • Punta Venyage

            That’s a better and slightly more thoughtful response, so we’re improving. Thanks

            I disagree with your points

            First
            I am using radical in the sense of politically radical: “a focus on
            altering social structures through revolutionary means and changing
            value systems in fundamental ways”

            Radical leftism seeks to
            disrupt the concept of the nuclear family and the “men are useless” camp
            is just another extension of this ideology. Replace fatherhood with big
            daddy government, who will always be there for you, is one of the motifs

            Second, no one here
            is disagreeing that men and women have equal intrinsic value. What is
            happening in society is no longer an honest discussion about “equal
            rights” (which is an incredibly vague term that means whatever you want it to mean). We are
            already in a place where a talented woman is free to achieve as much if not more than an equally talented man, without any legal repercussions (can’t say the same about the Middle East……..)

            People today are simply using the
            propaganda of “equality” to further their own political agenda. After
            all, like George Orwell wrote in Animal Farm, all are equal, except that
            some are more ‘equal’ than others.

            Third – what about the points you ignored earlier? Higher divorce rates – less stable families – women are less happy and more likely to be on medication – etc …. Are these “Eh, who cares” kinds of issues? Do you disagree that these things are even happening? Or do you simply think they are irrelevant?

          • João Pedro Santos

            LOL, then you complain about being “insulted”. With such comments you’re “asking for it”. Keep assuming that divorce is a bad thing. For most divorced people getting a divorce was the best decision they ever had and they’re happy with it. Plus, being on medication doesn’t imply having a bad quality of life. In fact, for a lot of people who is on medication today, the alternative one hundred years ago would be death. Or are you one of those that thinks that all GMO are bad and vaccines cause autism and we should all do live like they did 100 years ago? Oh, and the childbirth death rate was way higher back then. But let’s ignore that and pretend that life was good for women back then…
            PS: George Orwell was a “radical” who believed in gender equality (unlike you, even though he lived in a time when misogyny was “acceptable”) and what you call “big government” (that is, taxes being used to finance public services instead of financing wars).

  • João Pedro Santos

    So many stupid uninformed misogynyists commenting here…

  • João Pedro Santos

    Comments here are a very good reason of WHY we need feminism.

  • Kevin Weinberg

    Feminists attacked me and caused great damage to my life because I said something once they disagreed with.

    I hate feminists and feminism and I will opppose them until I die.

    That doesn’t mean I’m against women, as feminists seem to believe if you don’t like them you hate women.

    I just simply hate feminists and that’s never going to change.

    • João Pedro Santos

      “Feminists attacked me”
      Why, because you had to clean your room instead of waiting for your mother to do so?

      • Kevin Weinberg

        No. Because most feminists are like you: total human garbage unworthy of being on this planet.

        • João Pedro Santos

          How cool, in the lack of arguments you resort to insults. Go ahead, it means I’ll be able to report your comments.

          • John Robin

            João, why bother? Kevin exposes his hatred more clearly for all to see as long as his comments persist.

        • John Robin

          Kevin, resorting to ad hominem attacks is almost always a sign of a weak argument or poorly concealed bigotry. There’s no excuse for bigotry and hatred. And if hatred is the basis of your position, you’ll persuade no one but weak minded haters.