Show, Don’t Tell

In last week’s edition of The Phillipian, Samantha Martinez wrote an impressive manifesto regarding her thoughts on the use of the term “feminist,” particularly in relation to the current discussions at Andover. In her article, Martinez criticizes the “feminism is equalism” expression, stating “…its rhetoric and assertions (such as: all those who support equality are feminist) sloppily disregard any reference to the movement that has hypocritically excluded, denied and alienated groups of women.” Martinez then goes on to cite several individuals and associations that identify themselves as “feminist”—specifically Amanda Marcotte, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and Femen—and have been guilty of various forms of discrimination in the past. In the wake of the “Feminism is Equality” movement’s initial emergence, our community has spent far too much time debating the linguistics associated with the term, and not nearly enough time considering what actual issues need to be addressed on campus. No matter what we choose to call ourselves, a predominantly female group of students who loudly advocate gender equality on campus will always casually and generally be referred to as “feminists.” It is not a term we could easily abandon, even if we wanted to. Therefore, instead of abandoning the term, we hope to break the stigma that encompasses it. Although I understand the point Martinez is attempting to address, I take issue with her implication that the current feminist movement on campus is comparable to any past group or individual responsible for discrimination. By using the simple expression “feminism is equalism,” in its name, the Andover feminists hope to create a tolerant and supportive environment for individuals of every gender, ethnicity, age, religion or political affiliation. Because of this, rejecting the “Feminism is Equality” movement on campus because of past examples of some feminists’ views overlapping with radical, anti-religious, cissexist, or misandrist outlooks is unfair. The goal of the “Feminism is Equality” movement is in reality quite simple. We are a group of male and female students of various ages, ethnicities, political viewpoints, and religions, who have come together to create a modern wave of feminism where all women are represented equally.We believe that our movement can be successful without infringing in any way upon the rights of male, religious or transgender students. Regardless of what label they wear, we do not associate ourselves with any group, past or present, which has partaken in discrimination of any kind. In her article, Martinez laments the excessive use of the “feminism is equalism” expression, claiming that it “perpetuates a campus culture in which girls feel ashamed to speak out if they don’t call themselves feminists.” This is where I fundamentally disagree. I feel that by using the phrase “feminism is equalism,” our movement is creating a tolerant and accepting community where girls do not have to feel ashamed to speak out if they do not call themselves feminists—and perhaps more importantly, do not feel as though their gender makes them obligated to identify as anything at all. The feminists at Andover hope to reach a societal point, both on our campus and in the real world, where gender has little to no influence upon what labels we use in order to identify ourselves. That is precisely what our movement is all about. Grace Tully is a two-year Lower from Reading, Mass.