Commentary

Feminism: A Beginner’s View

Blue shirt, red bandana, and a flexed arm that embodies power. Often, the “We Can Do It” poster appears in my mind whenever the term “feminism” is mentioned. The way Rosie the Riveter was oriented in the famous poster made it feel like she was protruding a little, almost breaking the frame. This was my first impression of feminism.

My interactions with feminism continued when I entered Andover, and all lowerclassmen received a copy of “We Should all be Feminists” by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie from the Brace Center. Going through that tiny yet spirited book was like exploring a whole new world for me. All the subtleties and nuances associated with feminism I had encountered formerly made sense. Adichie was taking all the little things and all the unspoken vagueness and shouted them out loud for more people to hear. Here was the feminism that was never fully presented to me.

When I went through Andover’s resources, I became very aware of the importance of gender equality and feminism. But even though feminism is an idea I don’t see why anyone would disagree with, as it supports the elimination of the gender inequality that has been present for centuries, the movement still gains relatively little attention on campus.

For me, feminism is not only a practical idea but also a personal commitment. My most prevalent personal experience with feminism happened when I was told that I “swim like a boy,” by a kind and smiling face — I could see that it was meant to be a compliment. Something lit up at the back of my mind. I had seen these words so many times in Adichie’s writing and in other writers’ articles about gender equality — how the author was told to run or pitch like a boy and how they described their struggle to achieve equality. So this is how it feels like. It felt weird because I had never imagined a situation like this where my endeavors would be compared to that of a boy. Moreover, the “boy” part was referred to as a good example — it just didn’t seem right. Not knowing what to say or how to react, I smiled at the innocent-looking stranger. To some extent, this reflects the general impression that “men perform tasks better and are thus more capable than women.” There are numerous examples that can proof this statement wrong.

By supporting feminism, what we will be doing is essentially securing the freedom for women to pursue their dreams, ensuring them the same rights as men. Just as women like Jackie Kennedy, who overcame constantly being overlooked by her husband’s position by becoming a fashion icon who brought people together through the arts, I believe women can pursue their own passions without having to be defined by the men in their life.

My hope is that the gender bias towards women will come to an end through the understanding of feminism and seeing its importance. Additionally, I think having more women in leadership positions would allow for women to be disrespected at a lower rate. Seeing empowered women, just as I saw the Rosie the Riveter poster, would make other women feel confident and secure about their own abilities.

I believe it is only a matter of time before everyone sees the logic behind feminism and support feminist movements. Before long, the ideals of feminism will have come true.

Apr 7, 2017