White Board Asks, “Is Feminism Relevant?”

The multitude of social media platforms that exist in today’s society make sharing opinions easy; learning about other’s beliefs is as simple as scrolling through your own newsfeed on Facebook filled with Buzzfeed links. University of Redlands students have another opportunity to voice opinions on important social matters in real life. Every week the Armacost library staff poses a new question on white board on the second floor for students to react to and write about. Last week was no different when Paige Mann, assistant librarian, pulled from a long list of ideas for questions to ask:

“Is feminism relevant today? Why/why not?”

Responses written on the whiteboard included,

  • “Yes, I’m offended that we are even asking this question”
  • “Does the Pope wear funny hats”  
  • “Because I blamed myself for being raped”
  •  “Get back in the kitchen”.

By the end of this week the board was crammed with responses to what people had written, providing a visual of the differing opinions around campus over the the legitimacy of feminism in this generation. Mann has observed a variety of opinions in this use of the white board space before.

“Sometimes people will erase either what they wrote, or what other people have written,” Mann said. “It’s interesting to see how people censor each other. How people, the patrons and the employees take over ownership of that space.”

University of Redlands freshman Theo Whitcomb observed this phenomenon as well.

“When you create a forum in a public setting, it attracts mostly extremists from both ends and they are going to be making radical statements that are provoking to people,” Whitcomb said.

These remarks prompted a question: what voices didn’t make it onto the whiteboard? A University of Redlands senior who wished to stay anonymous had mixed feelings about whether feminism is relevant today.

“It depends geographically where you are because I know that a majority of religions and cultures are behind the times in that […] in a progressive country like we’re in, then it’s definitely relevant, but if you’re in a country that doesn’t quite see it that way, then it’s completely different,” he said.

University of Redlands junior Maria Carnevale felt passionately about the feminism question.

“100 percent yes, feminism is very relevant today,” Carnevale said. “Sexism is an ongoing issue, I feel like we can’t say that it’s not relevant with all that’s going on in the world. So much of our social culture has masculine and superiority and the media, and slut shaming, and equality in the workplace, and gay rights. It’s all relevant and it’s happening now, and it’s not done yet”

University of Redlands sophomore Louis Sanchez felt similarly to Carnevale.

“I definitely think it’s relevant today,” Carnevale said. “I think that women think it’s an issue for women, but it’s also an issue for men. Men should focus more on it.”

A student who wished to remain anonymous had different views.  

“I think feminism at its heart is a good thing, because I’m all for equality. But the way that it’s portrayed in the media isn’t necessarily a good thing. When feminist put down men, or saying women are better than men, or better at certain things, I don’t think that’s real feminism, because I think the point of feminism is gender equality. I think that’s okay, but when they say they’re better than men or that men are bad that’s when it’s bad”

University of Redlands senior Alice Miank shared like views, that radical feminism can tamper feminism as a whole.

“It’s a really difficult question. In some cases it is still relevant like in countries like India or some countries in the middle east where women aren’t at an equal status as they are to men. But I think that radical feminism in our country at this time is no longer relevant, and I think that it actually does more damage than it does good because we have things like reverse discrimination against men… and sometimes we women, as women become too entitled to things like for instance the likelihood of someone getting into a university right now is higher for a women than it is for a man and I don’t really think that’s very equally minded. I do still believe in equality of opportunity, but radical feminism is on it’s way out, at least in our country.”

University of Redlands senior Harlin Khan stood in opposition to Miank’s view,

“There’s an argument to be made about how people go about any social issue and their radicalism in that sense,” Khan said. “But just because you’re saying that ‘the black panthers are bad because they were violent,’ is not to say that racism doesn’t exist, right? It’s to say ‘racism exists, and in my privileged place I think you’re addressing it poorly’. I think the same is for feminism, you can’t deny the issue. Anyone who has any basic understanding of what feminism is, would not be against it.”

 

If you have any ideas for questions that can be posted on the whiteboard, email paige_mann@redlands.edu


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'White Board Asks, “Is Feminism Relevant?”' has 1 comment

  1. January 27, 2016 @ 10:53 pm Kestrel Ree Lewis

    I hadn’t seen this whiteboard. A shame. since I definitely have thoughts along the lines of the people quoted. I do not see feminism as becoming irrelevant anytime soon. Women are still oppressed in the United States, though the nature of that varies place to place. As a white person I’m not comfortable speaking on behalf of feminists in India or the Middle East. On the other hand feminism absolutely isn’t perfect. It has a long history of excluding women of color, trans women, disabled women, etc. Radical feminism makes me feel incredibly unsafe as a trans person. I do not advocate criticizing oppressed people for the tone of their activism and reactions, but I do think that within those groups one must be mindful of the intersecting oppressions faced by their fellows.

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