Thursday, January 14, 2010

Feminist Moment

As you may or may not know, I am a Woman's Studies major. I often receive a wide range of reactions to this. There are many who disapprove, or wonder how I am ever going to find a job. I have been called a "femi-Nazi," or some people just ignore me all together. But mostly, the reaction I get is something along the lines of, "What is that?"

Generally, I tailor my answer to who is asking, and express it in terms that each specific person can relate to. The word "feminist" holds a negative connotation for some people, and I often refrain from using it in my explanation. It's not that I don't like confrontation. Rather, I don't like point-less confrontation.

However, today, I was sitting in an upper level Women's Studies class on spirituality, and I had a moment of "righteous" indignation. And at that moment, I was PROUD, very, very PROUD, to say that I am a feminist.

A billboard in Athens caused quite a stir in many Women's Studies classes (and I've been told, Journalism classes, Psychology classes, etc.) and in the newspapers. Though it was replaced several months ago, my professor mentioned it in class today.

Here is a photo of the billboard for full effect..

We were discussing how disgustingly objectifying to women this billboard is. It's sad. Many of the students were excitedly adding to the dialogue in agreement, when two of the five males dared to disagree. "Sex sells," he said. Immediately, there were 35 dagger-like stares, and a loud objection could be heard from every single woman in the room. One of the men said, "I don't see what's wrong with it." Many brave women spoke up, explaining the objectification and sexualization of the woman in the add. And it's for a bank ? He said, "But it worked. It's a great add. You all remember it." And everyone agreed, "And not a single one of us would give them a penny."

It was during this conversation, that I could barely breath. My fighting feminist heart was coming out of my throat. 35 women, who I otherwise had very little in common with: women of every age, sexual orientation, race, class, and belief system, they were now my sisters, my comrades, and my heroines. 

The professor eventually shut them up, and agreed with us, saying that there was something very, very wrong with this add. That we have not arrived at post-feminism and that we don't need to "chill out" a little. Because as long as we are in a world where sex sells, where women sell, and where women are sold, there will always be a strong need for feminism, and for feminists. I am fighting for rights, for me, and for every other woman. The right to not be a sexual object. To have choices, to be what we are meant to be and what we choose to be. That is why I am a Woman's Studies major. That is why I am so proud to call myself a feminist.

After class, I was talking to my friend Andy. He said, "Oh my gosh, I thought I was going to die. There were 35 very angry feminists and I am one of only five guys !"

It will be an interesting semester. It will cause me to grow, and I will share it with you!


Sheena Louise Roetman said...

LOVE this post Caroline. I have a guy friend who is really started to get on my nerves re: objectifying women. This made me feel much more confident. I might have cried a little. ;)

Mandi Miller said...

That add is disgusting. I hope one day we really can get to a place where sex (women) does NOT sell products! What the heck does that picture have to do with a bank? Great post!