“I like the ideals of feminism, but I don’t like the term Feminist.”
I clearly remember making this statement in high school. Fast forward 6 years – now I have a BA in History and Sociology with a Women’s and Gender Studies minor and a MA in Gender Studies. So the question becomes, how did I transition to the outspoken feminist I am today and finally pop the feminist cherry?
Well, it really began when I started college. I was so excited to take on this new step in life. I knew I wanted to be a History major so I took a course on how women from post-colonial Africa told their personal histories. This course was fascinating and it made the gears in my head turn. I was so intrigued that women’s historical narratives could differ from a man’s. I was so intrigued that I spent the next 4 years examining women’s roles within history. This was the history that I was not only good at, but that I loved.
However, the real moment feminism hit me in the face was during the second semester of my Freshman year. I decided to take Introduction to Sociology, just for fun, and funnily enough, I loved it SO much that it became my second major. Anyway, as a part of this course we were required to attend a number of events outside of class and write a 1-page report connecting the event to the course. I was a student ambassador so I was hosting a prospective student on a Wednesday night and saw that the documentary MissRepresentation was playing. I wanted to give the prospective student something to do and I also wanted to complete one of my event reports, so I decided to walk across campus to view this documentary. And OH MY GOODNESS, this was one of the best decisions of my life.
I remember watching this documentary with my eyes wide open. It felt as though wool was pulled from my eyes and the world became clearer. I had heard many of the statistics the documentary referenced but, the way the statistics were presented was mind boggling. It stated that women make up 51% of the US population but only 17% of Congress and that women only make up 4.6% of all Fortune 500 CEOs. These are just two of the shocking statistics that were presented in the documentary. The explanation and examples of how women are represented in politics, movies, media, and advertising was what really clicked for me. All of a sudden, it was so clear. This is why feminism is important. This is precisely why men and women are not equal. Thus, popping the proverbial Feminist cherry.
I have now shown this documentary to every member of my immediate family, my boyfriend, and many close friends. I felt that it should be shared and that everyone needed to see it. It exposed something that I had often felt, that women remain lower on the totem pole than men. I internally knew this based on my personal experiences and intuition, but I did not know exactly how it manifested. MissRepresentation gave me the words and the tools I needed to talk about sexism in the 2010s and I have never looked back.
Today I proudly proclaim myself as a feminist and fight for the rights of all people. As Hillary Clinton stated, “Women’s rights are Human Rights, once and for all.”