Recently in the media we’ve seen more and more conversation around feminism being bad or good. We hear women all the time explain why they are feminists or why they’re not. We hear people complain about feminist extremists or “feminazi’s,” we hear about Emma Watson’s HeforShe speech and Lena Dunham’s new show “Girls.” But what does feminism really mean to you?
With International Women’s Day coming up there is no better time to be discussing University of Waterloo’s commitment to the Find Your Feminism campaign. So, what is it?
The Find Your Feminism campaign is a year long campaign to dismiss hurtful rumours that have surrounded feminists and feminism since it’s conception and educate men and women on how they can understand feminism in their own lives. The point of this campaign has been to help create opportunities for discourse around it in the community and remove the stigma around the word. Recently a discussion was held on Intersectional Feminism, a popular modern brand of feminism that has been gaining traction in the mainstream. Intersectional Feminism involves the same concern for the equal treatment of women but also recognizes how it has privileged white middle to upper class women and often ignored the struggles of women of color, queer women, disabled women, transwomen, and lower class women. For many young women and men who already identify as feminists and hope to support the movement the was an important discussion that helps us bring together various forms of oppression and understand their nuanced connections so that the feminist community can better work to support gender equality.
On March sixth I was able to talk to Meseret Abebe, a student who works at the women’s center during a bust casting. Bust casting events are a chance for women to create a cast of their breasts in an attempt to desexualize the image of the female body as well as show women what breasts actually look like. Meseret described her feelings about the event. “I feel like even as women we sexualize our boobs and forget that they are just like any other part of the body with a biological purpose that excludes attracting partners”. On the effect on the community here at Waterloo she said, “Bust casting was a chance to get together with my female identified peers and become more comfortable with our bodies and start to see them as something other than sexual objects.”
This and other initiatives have all been happening this year in an attempt to get the community on board with gender equality and the word feminism. When describing the role of the Women’s centre in all of this Meseret said “it’s important because people are always pinning women against each other and making it seem as though female relationships revolve around gossip and lies, but the women’s centre is a community of women working together to better other women’s lives and debunk this idea.” Meseret has been an active feminist advoate and helps run the amazing events the Women’s centre puts on.
Meseret, we couldn’t agree with you more and we thank you for your contribution in fighting inequality!