Shying Away from the F-Word

Emily Meringolo, Staff Writer

Apparently it’s a part of the current discourse to shy away from the word, the logic, and any/all other aspects of the trendiest “F” word: feminism. Each wave of feminists has faced resistance and systemic challenges, and one of today’s looming issues is supporters shying away from the term feminism. How complex and cowardly. Even the phrase “shy away” connotes fright and worry …

Just the other day in my Theories of International Relations class we were discussing Feminist Theory. The following are actual responses from my friends upon hearing what I had discussed in class: “Oh, I didn’t know you were taking a comedy class,” ” … You’re serious?” or “Right up your alley” and various other scoffs of dismissal and indifference. It is attitudes of this nature that undermine the work feminists have been pushing forward. Although such comments and attitudes are harmless, they parallel “shying away” from feminism that is a part of the discourse.

Do the ideals of feminism come off too strong for someone to stand behind and identify with? Are the notions of bra-burning, man-hating lunatic women something feminists re-associated with today—if so, how/why? Or rather is the “shying away from feminism” a testament to the progress feminists have achieved thus far? Regardless, I suppose feminists will have to re-brand themselves to gain more popularity among their trendy young lady-supporting followers—enter Emma Watson stage right #blessed. Yet even “global initiatives” are only rhetoric, and can go so far.


To me, it only seems logical that in the 21st century men, women, and anyone in between should stand behind the equality of all, regardless of their identified gender/sexuality. However this logic is not yet the norm. Herein lies the subjectivity of feminism and the ideas of justice in a patriarchal society. The movement actively challenges the social norms that have been reinforced by society and that have created the paradigm we see today.

What feminists, and frankly all social justice warriors, should find interesting is that a recent study by the University of Chicago found that people with high “justice sensitivity” use logic, not emotions. In the experiment, subjects were put in an fMRI machine while watching videos of people acting kindly or cruelly toward a homeless person. Certain participants reacted stronger than others. And in the “high” sensitivity individuals’ brains, activity showed that they were processing the images in the parts of the brain where logic and rationality exist. Proving that “individuals who are sensitive to justice and fairness do not seem to be emotionally driven … rather, they are cognitively driven.”

Yay, feminists are logical. Now what? Allowing people to shy away from feminism dismisses gender inequalities and simultaneously accepts the idea of a post-gender society—which we are not currently living in. To some confused individuals, feminism is radical and not something to associate oneself with. But at the core of this issue is cowardly logic arising from the individuals who don’t like to be called out on their privilege. Especially among women, shying away from feminism shows indifference to the glass ceiling (which keeps women as the lesser of the sexes and dismisses the effort of 20th-century feminists). Do not shy away from feminism–embrace it. Shying away from feminism disassociates the ideals of feminism from the violence against women.

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