When Barnard College sends a feminist an email…

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I’ve made good friends with some graduates of Barnard College (the female-only college of Columbia University) during my time in NYC. Barnard women are to feminism what NYU kids are to films & flannels. It’s part of their DNA.

So when Barnard reaches out to me deeming me a “feminist-thought leader”, I realized I could now die happy. To top it off, they share with me this magnificent article featuring the President of Barnard College, Debora Spar, on the meaning of feminism with modern millennials. Seriously read it all the way through. She is a rockstar.

First things first: “Dare to use the F-word” sounds like an incredible podcast, one that I am going to be listening to religiously after I write this post. They are telling the story of today’s feminists in a format that everyone can appreciate. Listen up.

Now, back to Debora. Her sentiment echoes a lot of what I wrote in a previous blog post, called “What’s in a word”. In it, I recall a debate I had over the use of the word “feminist”. Does it matter if you label yourself with that term or not? Does it make you less of a feminist in your political agenda if you prefer not to be labeled? Do you need the term to further the conversation?

All valid questions. But what President Spar offers is the suggestion that feminism is deeply ingrained into our young women’s hearts and minds…to the point where they don’t really realize it anymore.

“My own view … is that most young women today are feminist in nature if not in name. What they don’t do, necessarily, is credit the feminist movement for this state of affairs, or eagerly claim the label of feminist for themselves. This is perhaps unfortunate but also understandable.”

Feminism has really done it’s job in that sense. It’s not a question in my mind that I need to work, save my own money, start my retirement plan. These are matters that not long ago wouldn’t have even crossed a 25-year-old woman’s mind. I don’t need to get married to have a stable life for myself. Feminism has opened the doors to allow me opportunities my grandmothers never dreamed of.

The tricky part is that we aren’t even close to finished. Street harassment, body image, pro-choice movements, slut-shaming, the lack of female leadership, the disparity in salary by race AND gender are just a couple of the many problems that still plague the feminist agenda. But how can we make changes to those issues if our women refuse to fight?

To me – and I hope to the smart, brilliant ladies of Barnard – taking up the word “feminist” as your title is like a battle cry. It means you simply aren’t going to put up with the world’s bullshit. And it also means sticking up for other women (no matter if accept the label themselves).

What do you think Fruitloop Feminists? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.

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