I heard some people perceive Hope College students as too traditional and that is why they simply decide on another school with more liberal student body. That is usually the case with many female students who identify as feminists; they are often afraid that their voice will not be heard. As much as I respect that, I have to say you should think twice, friend. I am a Hope College student and I watch “Vagina Monologues”, read Butler, even examine gender roles on daily basis. My thesis is on second wave feminism and it’s impact on female body health. There are nine books, four files of feminist articles and two DVDs on my desk right now; all about feminist debates on various subjects even the theory itself. Yet, I still don’t identify as a feminist and here is why.
People often presume that I must have very strong opinions about gender spaces and patriarchy just because I study feminism. The truth is studying these topics actually drove me away from the concept itself. I have analyzed many texts and tried to understand second wave feminism’s vandalistic and sensationalized approach to destruction of patriarchy. All of the course of studies I have been exposed to led me to one conclusion: women should be equal to men in society. Now, this idea is valid and I support that, however the theory is a lot more different than the practice. The way third wave feminists interpret the liberal feminism’s emancipation goals and how they introduce them to the rest of the world is not exactly what Simone deBeauvoir or any other women’s studies scholar evaluates the dilemma of “equality”.
Confused? Let me simplify this for you. Most of you probably heard about “Muslim women being liberated by Western feminists”. Well, Muslim women are not the only people who they try to “liberate”; housewives, stay-at-home moms, women who choose to pursue modeling/ acting/ dancing careers or just don’t want to work at all and want to become wives, and the list goes on. Funny, I thought we were upset with the patriarchy because the system itself oppressed women; so why are we doing the same to our “sisters”? Oppression among women is one issue, but I think it is just as problematic how feminist activism is secretly making “masculinity” desirable. According to traditional Marxist- feminism, creating a solidified space in the capitalist society is the only way to be respected and improve the quality of life; WHY? For the love of everything, why can’t caring, nurturing and mothering be just as full- filling? It is universally agreed that quality of life is improved by essential happiness, and if these “feminine” values make some women happy, why to force the every female soul to take a position that they don’t even want to be in? How is that liberating? Personally, I think staying strong and saying “I don’t care what you think, woman; I am going to stay home and look after my family” is just as empowering as contributing economically to the society.
Dear feminist who just graduated from high school, I used to think just like you do; I was upset with the male-kind and I thought girls who choose to get married right after college and not work (or work at a pink-collar job) are being oppressed, maybe even being irrational. I was in your shoes and maybe because I am coming from a country that has a very, very large gender gap, I had stronger thoughts than you did. I thought FEMEN was doing a fantastic job (took me a while to realize that they are led by a male-only executive team) and advocated that ALL women should be respected just because they are women (no- not true). But then I ended up at Hope and started to listen what they had to say. Some of my friends said they wanted to be homemakers, yet they were still pursuing their BS degrees. A few of them admitted that they were going for “MRS” major. You know what, I respect that. I rather be in this “welcome-all” environment than be at a “feminists-only” place like I am right now. Yes, I will have a career because I want my future spouse to have the privilege to stay home and get to know his kids better just like I will. So yes, technically I will be working to comfort another male-gendered person. Are you outraged? Well, don’t be, because remember; this is what feminism is about, equality.
Hope you are making the right choice dear feminist.