A few weeks ago during registration time, I was walking to class and happened to overhear something extremely upsetting. A male student, talking to a female friend, said, “I wanted to take women’s studies, but I didn’t because then I’d be the only guy.” They both laughed after, seeming to agree that this would be some horrible, awkward thing.
It’s not horrible. It’s not awkward. It’s not embarrassing to be a guy in a women’s studies class. It’s a missed opportunity.
If you want to take women’s studies, take it. And even if you don’t, you should take it anyway.
People shy away from the word “feminist,” or worse, they avoid it like it’s some dirty label they’ll be shamed for having. Feminism is GOOD, people. It’s essential. Especially at Quinnipiac, where 60.2% of the student body is female, according to U.S. News & World Report.
There are a lot of misconceptions about feminism. Luckily, a simple online search will lead you to Merriam-Webster’s official definition: “The belief that men and women should have equal rights and opportunities.”
Did I miss the part that says feminists are all crazy radicals and lesbians who hate sex and want to destroy men and families only so women can take over the world? No, didn’t think so. If you thought you’d find these descriptions in the definition, you might want to check out Merriam-Webster’s dictionary again. “Stereotype: an often unfair and untrue belief that many people have about all people or things with a particular characteristic.”
Feminism isn’t about hating men, or even thinking that women are superior to men. It’s about equality. Women are people, just like men, and I would hope we could all agree that we deserve the same level of respect, opportunities and equal pay. Think of it this way, guys – Would YOU want to make 78 cents for our $1? Didn’t think so.
I want to note that this is only the ratio for white women. Women of color made even less than that, dropping down to about 54 cents to a white man’s $1 for Latinas, according to New Republic.
Securing gender equality may seem like a daunting task. In many ways, it is. How do we change this systematically unfair aspect of society? I don’t pretend to know the answer to this question. But here’s one place that might be good to start: Women’s Studies 101.
We need to work together to solve these problems. Two weeks ago, I attended the Social Justice Leadership Conference at Wesleyan University, and one of the most powerful lessons I learned was the idea of “leaning into discomfort.” This means that when something feels unfamiliar and unsettling for whatever reason, whether it is due to a racial, gender, sexual difference or anything else, do not avoid it. That’s the worst thing you can do. It only perpetuates fear, stereotypes and misunderstanding.
If taking a women’s studies class makes you uncomfortable, do it. Register for the class and show up on the first day willing to feel totally stupid. You’ll learn, I promise you, and you’ll be a better person for it.