Whether on social networks or in the news, “feminism” seems to be the new buzzword.
On the PLNU campus, for instance, feminism has the tendency to be more like a curse word than a socio-political idea to discuss. The word that I am so comfortable talking about and associating with has a tendency to ruminate in cult-like implications, as if feminists on this campus are more in need of an exorcism than an intellectual conversation. As a non-bra-burning, non-man-hating feminist, I can comfortably conclude that many of these connotations are incorrect.
Emma Watson accurately stated what I think is an essential lesson for many on this campus, “Fighting for women’s rights has too often become synonymous with man-hating… this has to stop.” She goes on to say, “For the record, feminism, by definition, is the belief that men and women should have equal rights and opportunities. It is the theory of political, economic and social equality of the sexes.”
Yet, many on this campus still treat the word like a contagious disease. I, however, propose that just as “feminism” is given a poor connotation in many places on campus, “Christianity” is also given a debauched reputation in many locations around the world. Now, as a predominantly Christian campus, I say most of us would defend our identification as Christians. Despite the fact that Christians across centuries in history have caused wars, killed thousands, and hurt so many more, we still identify as Christians. Just as defining all Christians by Westboro Baptist Church or the crusades gives Christianity a ruthless status, so identifying feminists with man-haters gives feminism a spiteful association.
Radicals exist in every group. Within Christianity and feminism alike, there are radicals with whom we would prefer to deny any association. Feminists are no more man-haters than Christians are Muslim-haters or homosexual-haters. Just as Christians have many approaches as to how the salvation through by Jesus Christ should be offered, so feminists approach the equality of the sexes in a variety of ways. Many of these methodologies may be more positive and helpful than others.
With this in mind, I would not go so far as to say that Emma Watson gave a perfect speech, for humans are not infallible creatures in their speech or their ideas. However, I believe that the issues she brought to light through this speech are important for this campus to be talking about. Violence against women, lack of women’s education and political rights, and a gender-based wage gap are just a few of the issues examined in her speech. If we deny these are important issues simply because they are associated with a word we might not like, we deny ourselves the opportunity to participate in the extraordinary movement that has been, and continues to change the world for the better.
As Watson states, “If you still hate the word, it is not the word that is important. It’s the idea and the ambition behind it.” Now some may still wish not to subject themselves to such a muddled issue. However, with the full knowledge that my education, my ability to become a biblical scholar and my privilege to write this freely as a woman without persecution, are all due to feminist movements throughout history, I fully participate in that movement which we call.