The ‘F’ word — why it’s still relevant today

Not all feminists are angry ... unless someone makes a stupid remark about feminism. Then they will probably be pissed. (joblo.com)

“I don’t understand why feminists today are so angry. I never did anything to you. Back in the day, they were seeking equality, but now there’s no reason to be angry.”

I am paraphrasing, but a statement similar to this is what made a typically calm person, such as myself, actually mad during class this past week.

Stereotypes regarding what defines a feminist are commonplace and oftentimes inaccurate. Mistaking the assumed actions of extremists (i.e. bra-burning, man-hating, etc.) as fact causes the term to frequently be taken out of context.

According to Merriam-Webster, by definition “feminism” is “the advocacy of women’s rights on the grounds of political, social and economic equality to men.”

While the word can hold different meanings to individuals, at the root of it, I take it to mean that women should not be limited in actions or everyday life because of their gender.

This topic came up in an English class discussion because we were reading Mary Wollstonecraft’s “A Vindication of the Rights of Women.” Written in 1792 during the French Revolution, the focus of this literary work is that women deserve an education. Unapologetic and direct in her delivery, Wollstonecraft may have scared/scarred some people with her boldness.

Though this piece is 220 years old, it still holds relevance in today’s world.

Yes, now there are women in school (and hey, there’s even more of us at the College than there are men), but did you know that in the developing world, 70 percent of the 130 million uneducated youth are female?

This statistic is the foundation for non-profit organization She’s the First, which sponsors girls’ education in developing nations. Its goal is to help girls become the first in their families to graduate, making it the first step in achieving their dreams.

The organization is actually the brainchild of an ’07 College alumna, Tammy Tibbetts. Now things are coming full circle as a group of students and I are in the process of starting a chapter of the non-profit here on campus — She’s the First TCNJ.

I am not aiming to self-promote our club, but I think that we should all realize how fortunate we are to be attending school and do our best to help others achieve an education as well — whether it be getting involved with groups like She’s the First, or volunteering through the Bonner Center at schools in our neighboring city of Trenton.

Even though women have come a long way since the 18th century, things aren’t as peachy-keen as my classmate’s comment made it seem.

Today working women in the U.S. still make 78 cents to men’s dollar. Before you complain about having to take a women’s and gender studies class as a part of your liberal learning requirements, I hope you actually open your minds and learn during those classes. There’s a lot to still be discussed.

To that kid in class who could not comprehend why feminists are “angry” — mystery solved, buddy: the answer is in stereotypical statements like yours.