I am a feminist because…
Tuesday, March 19, 20132 Comments
“Feminist because” started as a class project by students from the College of Charleston and has since become a popular Internet phenomenon. “Feminist because” campaigns occur when pictures are taken of people holding signs describing reasons why they identify as Feminists.
On Friday, March 15 in the University Centre, the Guelph Resource Centre for Gender Empowerment and Diversity (GRGCED) started its own “Feminist Because” campaign at Guelph. The event page promoted the event by asking students and community members: “Are you tired of the stigma you face about identifying as a feminist? Are you committed to promoting feminism's relevance and importance?” And encouraged students to participate in the campaign if they answered yes to both of the questions above.
Some examples of what students wrote to describe why they are feminists include “because I want all women to feel empowered and safe in their community”, “because gender equality in Canada is a Myth”, and because “my body, should equal my choices.”
Brenda Whiteside, the Associate Vice President of student affairs wrote, “We can’t take progress for granted.” Some students who saw this picture on Facebook were shocked that Whiteside would participate in the campaign, considering she is one of the people who helped cut women studies at Guelph. As a result, the University of Guelph is one of the only major universities in Canada that does not have a women’s studies program.
Ashley Lowenthal set up the booth and took pictures for the event. She decided to help out with the project because she has been researching about why feminism and why being a feminist is so stigmatized. When asked about why there is such a stigma for feminists Lowenthal responded by saying:
“I think it has a lot to do with the feminist backlash. I think it comes with miseducation… There’s a lot of stereotypes that get reinforced with miseducation, like man hating for instance….I think, feminism is a pretty radical ideology, and it really challenges, in particular, patriarchy, and this is threatening to a lot of people, so that’s why there is a backlash.”
What is a tactic people can use to combat the stigma around feminism?
According to Lowenthal we all should “educate [our] friends about what feminism is, and not be shy to tell people about [our] politics.”
Lowenthal also played a key role in this event to promote GRCGED. GRCGED is a resource center run collectively for people of all or no genders that provides services and campaigns around social justice issues within a feminist framework. The resource center organizes a conference each year. This year, the Everybody Conference is happening from March 22 to March 24. The facebook event page for this conference describes the Every Body Conference as a “convergence of voices building towards a community in which we can address systemic barriers that prevent us* from having autonomy over what happens to our bodies, while also exploring grassroots movements that are working to reclaim that power.” Students can learn more about this conference at www.theeverybodyconference.wordpress.com.