I have something to tell you that may or may not be news. You are a feminist.
Skeptical? Maybe you’re thinking, “Well, sure, I think that women and men are equal, but I wouldn’t say that I’m a feminist or anything.”
Why has feminism become a bad word? Why do teenage girls shy away from the movement that has given women so many opportunities, rights, and privileges? Who says it’s bad to be a feminist?
Because of feminists, we can go to school, vote, and have careers. Being a feminist does not mean that you hate men, or that you’re “unfeminine.” To boil it all down, a feminist is a person who values women and men equally. Just by attending this school, you are demonstrating that you are a feminist.
In fact, the tenets of feminism are so closely linked with Archer’s core mission and the vision of our founders that without feminism, Archer couldn’t exist. I found an LA Times article from 1996, the year I was born, reporting on the brand new Archer School for Girls. The article says, “The school itself is a celebration of single-sex education, of girls, and of the feminist struggle. Banners for the beleaguered Equal Rights Amendment are proudly displayed in rooms crowded with girls born long after their mothers lost the fight for ratification. Girls First! is Archer’s slogan, and its school colors are ‘ERA green’ and ‘suffragette purple.’”
Did you know that the green and purple you wear on your uniform everyday are symbols of the ongoing feminist struggle? Neither did I.
And that’s a problem. Why do we seem to be abandoning our feminist roots? Why don’t we revel in our heritage? With Founders’ Day coming up on Nov. 15, I propose that we take some time to celebrate our sisters who have fought for our rights and consider how their contributions have directly affected us. Maybe we can even bring back the ERA banners around campus.
Or perhaps you think that feminism is obsolete. I mean, we can vote, hold office, get PhD’s, and generally decide our own futures. But that isn’t equality, and the numbers prove it. One in three women will be sexually assaulted in her lifetime. A woman, on average, makes 78 cents for every dollar that a man makes. The poverty rate for women is 14.6%; for men it’s 10.9%.
It doesn’t stop at that. Gender inequality affects us all, even in daily life. How many of us have had to deal with intimidating catcalls on the street from men driving by? Had our legitimate concerns shut down and played off as a bad case of PMS? We are not taken seriously. We are not valued. The struggle is not over. To call yourself a feminist is to identify yourself as a beacon of change.
And guess what? Feminism is good for you. You should be proud of it, and proud that your school is rooted in these values, because no other school can boast that.
Is this all to say that we should stop shaving our legs, burn our bras, and run naked through the streets, demanding the death of the patriarchy? That’s your choice. But it wouldn’t hurt.
Featured Image: July 9, 1978: NOW (National Organization For Women) organized the women’s march on Washington to protest delays in ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment. Photographer: Chuck Aaron