Look Good, Feel Bad? Women’s Culture on Campus


Something many women at Duke must combat is the question of how to be empowered women when society makes it nearly impossible to win.  I’m not talking about a patriarchal society—I’m talking about the culture of women.  Much of our downfall is our own fault.  We sell women eye shadow, and then we call them anti-feminist for using it.  We encourage women to have a family and then we almost force them to try to “have it all” (which by the way would probably lead them to an early death.)  Despite this, we even criticized Marissa Mayer, the CEO of Yahoo, for working through her pregnancy and making other women look incompetent.  For some convoluted reason, our gender is not allowing ourselves to move forward.

This struggle is apparent on Duke’s campus.  In the world of prestigious universities, we’re expected to take ourselves seriously.  This has caused a pronounced divide between women who partake in traditional concepts of beauty and other women who think they know better.

Recently, Duke has developed an epidemic of self-proclaimed “feminist” women attacking other Duke women due to their differing expressions of womanhood.  Apparently, we embarrass them.  We shouldn’t be here.  We take society back 50 years.

I think the problem here, really, is a lack of respect of women by other women who identify as feminists.  As an avid feminist myself, I always thought the purpose was for the respect and equality of women and men.  In my understanding, that includes respecting some women’s desire to use beauty products.  Moreover, it includes a woman’s ability to make a choice without societal pressure and her ability to speak her mind.  Isn’t criticizing other women’s expressions of femininity the exact sort of sexism we’re all trying to kill? 

I don’t understand why Her Campus Duke received a comment on one side about how we’re promoting effortless perfection by posting an article about what to wear to the gym, while we also received a comment on the other side about how we’re promoting a slob lifestyle by posting a joke article about how seniors dress like old messes.

A group of Facebook users have been expressing opinions online that we, as an organization, are superficial, and that some of our specific writers are untintelligent or embarrassing as people.

The question I ask to these women is, are you in line with your morals when you post negative comments about a freshwoman that will probably lower her self-esteem?  As Duke women, we should be encouraging each other to succeed.

Though I do not speak for our organization— I personally apologize that you women could not find something you enjoyed on our website.  You should understand that we’re not for everyone.  For one thing, Her Campus tailors to college women especially.  For another, what we post is a product of what interests our team and what we think would interest other women on campus. 

You should also understand that we’re not The Chronicle, we’re a women’s magazine.

In the words of our social media chair, “You can be a runner and a princess, a style mogul and a gym rat.”  Please keep in mind that being an intelligent woman and a traditionally attractive one are not mutually exclusive.