By Mary Dwyer – I sometimes find it very difficult to articulate why I believe in feminism. People are so willing to attack the movement’s purpose and relevance, and they use the title in jest or as an insult word. Being young, it is difficult for me to find the words to defend what I believe in when many people are skeptical about believing in it too.
So here they are. Here are the words that I think other girls and guys should understand. Here are the words that define feminism, to me.
I have heard kids say that they think feminists hate men. I have heard kids say that the modern world is equal, so feminism has no purpose. I have heard kids say that I could be successful, but I am “too feminist.” These are kids in high school. They share an unflattering misconception of a word that in reality just means support. I am a feminist because I want everyone to know that they can achieve whatever they want to achieve; regardless of gender, regardless of field, regardless of their own self-perception. I am a feminist because I think it is important that people support one another. I am a feminist because I notice girls specifically who have yet to open their eyes to their potential, and they deserve to be able to see it.
“I have heard kids say that they think feminists hate men. I have heard kids say that the modern world is equal, so feminism has no purpose. I have heard kids say that I could be successful, but I am ‘too feminist.'”
But why girls? I know. I hear that a lot. I hear that it is 2014 and women have had the right to vote since 1920. I hear that it is and has been equal. But I don’t see that it is. Last year, I attended a career fair and of the professional people slated to speak to us, 90% were male. It was something that I noticed, but was shocked to find out that not many others did. Imagine the effect it has on the subconscious to look at a panel of professionals, and not see a single face that resembles your own. It tells girls that they cannot be professional. It tells us that we do not belong on a panel of people influencing the future of others, a panel of people who simply have careers.
And so it made sense to me that when a classmate overheard me talking about the field of medicine, they automatically assumed I was interested in becoming a nurse. Not the chemical engineer or the surgeon that I actually wanted to be. Their unconscious mind immediately associated a girl in medicine with nursing. In that same respect, the position of a nurse is being undervalued. Professions that are typically viewed as feminine, such as nursing or teaching, don’t get the recognition they deserve. They discourage men from joining the field, and disrespect the passionate and professional women involved.
It seems archaic. But it isn’t. These are seventeen year olds who allow gender-based limits to affect the way they think. These are not anomalies. These could be any students at any high school. And it is all a consequence of media, of vernacular, of using feminist as an insult world and proliferating the idea that change isn’t necessary.
Just know that we are all capable of anything we want to be capable of. We just need to share that awareness. We need our subconscious to lead a boundless life and support the lives of others. We need to understand that movements toward equality are necessary, and to question feminism is to question the motives of something that exists out of positivity.
Mary Dwyer is a high school senior who loves STEM, literature, and US History. During her history course sophomore year, she read about a nation that fell when its individual states fought against each other, but achieved greatness when they united. The message resonated with her, especially as the media and her personal experience reinforced that dynamic in the female community.
So for her sweet sixteen, she was gifted the rights to the domain historyinpink.com. On History in Pink, she promotes the union of females who support the success of one another, themselves, and their female nation.