People are often inclined to roll their eyes at the self-proclaimed “feminist” on their Facebook news feed. She posts once a day about how angry she is at the patriarchy and people think, “She gives us all a bad name”.
These people are conditioned to think that it’s okay to think men and women should have equal rights and it’s okay to talk about those rights themselves. It might even be okay to fight for these rights. However, as soon as the word “feminist” comes up, people shy away. They are scared to actually call themselves a “feminist” due to the fear of being marked as aggressive, over-the-top, obscene, or all the above.
The National Organization for Women (NOW) at the University of Miami, held a meeting to address the stigma that comes with the word “feminist.” They wanted to know why people are often opposed to using the word feminist to describe themselves.
The meeting was run by Mai Huynh, the president of NOW, who opened up the discussion by inviting people to share their views on feminism and understand why people were often turned off by the idea of calling themselves a feminist. Sammi Daugherty offered up one reason. “There’s a stereotype of a feminist, just like with anything else, and people don’t want to associate with the angry and aggressive one,” Daugherty said.
Many of the women agreed about the difficulty to talk about any of the issues without being judged. As a result, many choose to remain silent.
The word feminism seems to be treated like a swear word, even on the University of Miami campus. Huynh explained that she had to change the name of the meeting from “Feminism as a Taboo” to “General Body Meeting” when registering for a room, because the original title was deemed “too political.” It only proves just how taboo the word “feminism” really is.
Many were outraged at the fact that people claim to care about Women’s Rights, but don’t do anything to actually help the cause.
“One of my friends thinks the same way I do and cares about the same issues, but she doesn’t make an effort to put it into her everyday life.” explained, the Co-Founder of NOW at UM, Shannon Casey.
However they also brought up the reasons why people don’t get involved, one of which is that they simply don’t know how.
Casey gave some examples of how she has gotten involved in the Women’s Movement in bigger ways than just posting on social media. She has invested a lot working with other members of NOW to create a Women’s and Gender Resource Center on Campus. They schedule meeting with faculty to get advice, resources and support, collect research on other women’s resource centers and even started a petition, which you can sign here, to support the cause.
The members of NOW also help the community by being involved by participating in service events at the Lotus House Women’s Shelter.
Casey preached, “if you really want to make something happen, you’ll find the time to make it happen.”
At the end, women reflected about how there is always work to be done and how that fact should be motivation enough to keep doing more. If you’re interested in getting involved like their facebook page for more information.
Thalia Garcia is a junior majoring in Software Engineering. She’s from Miami and wants to eventually start her own software business or work in animation! She loves pastelitos and café con leche.