Feminism on campus
Young people don't care. That's the message we're given, right? But across campuses all across the country, from Liverpool to London, there's an uprising happening. And what's that? Feminism.
Oh, here we go! You cry. Butch, hairy women straight from the seventies who should just leave all that bra burning stuff in the past, right? Um, well, no actually.
Feminism is still relevant today, as we work towards equality in the world. Contrary to popular belief, feminists do not hate men. They don't think they're better than men, or want better opportunities. Just equal ones. Of course, this isn't the case for all of those who identify as feminists – but they're a small minority of 'misandrists' who are letting the side down. Feminists come from all walks of life, all backgrounds, and it doesn’t matter what they look like or whether they’re gay, straight, or anything in between. It doesn’t even matter what gender they identify as. All that shouldn’t be relevant as they word towards this important cause, and yet these are misconceptions that get in the way of their work time and time again.
If you don't believe that feminism is still necessary today, just ask the women and girls in places where they're forced into marriages. Or where they're told they can't go to school. Ask Malala Yousafzai, who was shot by the Taliban, just because she believes in education for all, and that means girls and boys. Some women’s bodies are even forced into abhorrent forms of torture, or stoned to death for so-called crimes – all because certain cultures dictate that women are of less importance than men. More recently, transgender women have experienced unprecedented levels of discrimination, and that’s not even touching on the fact that around the world, women still do not have the same pay for the same job.
It would be easy, yet offensive, to condemn other countries as 'backwards' and ourselves as forward thinking. But that's just not necessarily the case. Even in our own 'developed' society, we need feminism, too. Yes, even right here on campus. Unfortunately, some student-led groups within Universities have come under fire over the last few years for promoting 'rape culture', because of the prevalence of threats and 'jokes' around the issue. Even if this kind of behaviour is to be dismissed as 'banter', it isn't excusable. Whilst the vast majority of people involved in this 'laddishness' would never, ever perpetrate violence, it sadly reinforces into the minds of the select few who are criminals that rape is somehow trivial or acceptable. This is a culture which has no place in our educational institutions, as it makes women afraid to walk around alone lest they get attacked, or creates a frightening environment where victims are blamed for their actions. We need to be clear. The only people responsible for attacks of this nature are the attackers. Never the woman or man who has been attacked.
Look around at the media; they're waking up to it, too. The Guardian's 'Everyday Sexism' project is definitely worth a look at as it highlights some of the many ways that gender discrimination still exists today. Of course, there is no point isolating or accusing men. If we want truly to strive for equality, we must cast aside blame and not become hypocrites.
If you've experienced discrimination at University of any kind, the staff in the student accommodation at Liberty Living would be more than happy to help you.
Posted on 27th May 2014 by Claire L.
Claire Louise Sheridan lives and works in Peterborough. She recently graduated with a degree in English and Communication Studies from the University of Liverpool.