Why You Should Be a Feminist at JAC

by Noa Billick, Michelle Caron-Pawlowsky & The JAC FemClub

“Feminism” is a word that tends to stir up some controversy; in fact, when we started FemClub last semester and our notice about the first meeting showed up on the Omnivox portal, a great number of people attacked the club on JAC Secrets! We were initially taken aback since our goal was only to create a safe space for people to meet and talk about various social issues relating to feminism. After some time, though, it simply motivated our desire to spread the true meaning and goal of feminism: in short, we care about equality, women’s rights, and human rights as a whole.

There is a massive misconception that “feminism” means anti-male, when in reality, it is pro-equality. Feminists don’t want women to have more rights and opportunities than men, they just no longer want to see the disparity between them that currently exists.

As feminists, the most common phrase we hear is, “I believe in ____________ but I’m not a feminist.” Feminist is an identity, and an identity is a choice, which is why we can’t be the ones telling you that you are, in fact, a feminist. We do, however, believe that if more people understood the true meaning of the word, they would have no problem identifying as such. Even so, we want you all to know that what’s important about feminism is not the word, but the movement.

At out last meeting, JAC FemClub got together and discussed what feminism means to us and why we need it, and we hope you like what we came up with.

  • Because all humans are deserving of equal rights, experiences, and respect.
  • Because if I don’t stand up for my rights, who else will?
  • Because of all the times I’ve felt so uncomfortable in situations where someone has made me shockingly aware of my gender.
  • Because even if I haven’t experienced it myself, I’ve seen those I love be disadvantaged by unfair privilege.
  • Because I believe in gender equality. One of our members’ sisters recently got rejected for a research grant at McGill and was told by the school that it was because of her gender. They felt it was unsafe for her to be doing the same work her male peers were doing without a problem. This happened in the year 2015, in Montreal, in Canada. These types of problems have not been eliminated, as much as we like to pretend they have, and they need to be addressed.
  • Because if we’re afraid to speak out about these problems, the stigmas will live on.
  • Because even if I feel comfortable and safe in my current position, women on the other side of the world are being murdered and attacked for rejecting marriage proposals, are being denied the right to education, are being forced into sexual slavery… and I will do everything in my power to help.
  • Because so many women who have been victimized feel like they cannot talk about what happened to them out of fear of being attacked, victim-blamed, or slut-shamed. The first question many people ask a sexual assault survivor is still, “but what were you wearing?” This transfers the blame from the aggressor onto the survivor or victim, which is unacceptable.
  • Because every single woman in our club has experienced some form of harassment or assault. Every. Single. One. Aside from that, most of us (if not all) have never even met a woman who has been excluded from these harmful effects of our hyper-masculine culture.
  • Because domestic violence injures more women than car accidents, muggings, and rapes combined, and is the leading cause of injury to women.
  • Because our society teaches their daughters how to avoid rape, but doesn’t bother telling their sons not to rape.
  • Because approximately 1 out of every 6 women experiences attempted or completed rape in her lifetime, and the same goes for approximately 1 in every 33 men (Statistics from Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network).
  • Because many male sexual assault or rape survivors are made fun of and called “pussies” or “f*ggots” for speaking out about their experiences.
  • Because many men will respect the answer “I have a boyfriend” more than a simple “no, I’m not interested”; they respect a woman more as someone else’s girlfriend than they do as a person. Last week, one of our members watched a girl get hit on at JAC’s own Tim Hortons, politely reject the advance, and walk away in a state of stress while the “no longer interested” guy aggressively yelled insults her way. We hope you see the problem with this, and no, it most definitely is not an isolated case.
  • Because the gender wage gap is still very real.
  • Because what I learned in my feminism classes at John Abbott was that we blindly accept too much of our current reality without thinking. We are not in a place of equality and that is unacceptable.
  • Because not only do people call me “gay” and persecute me in reaction to my feminine traits, but they actually believe that “gay” is an insult.
  • Because our peers still think rape jokes are appropriate comedy material. When you make a rape joke, it not only normalizes a terrible crime, but forces survivors who overhear you, even accidentally, to relive an extremely traumatic experience. Also, if your comedy revolves around rape, you probably need a new hobby.
  • Because we need to consider intersectionality. We need to understand the ways in which all of our races, genders, sexualities, religions, social classes, abilities, and other defining characteristics differently shape each and every one of our realities.
  • Because so many people believe that “if you love someone, you’ll have sex with them”, when the truth is that if they love you and are a decent person, they will be understanding and will never pressure you into sexual activities you aren’t comfortable with.
  • Because we constantly hear guys being made fun of for being virgins, and girls getting condemned for being “sluts”. To borrow words from The Breakfast Club’s Allison Reynolds: “If you say you haven’t, you’re a prude. If you say you have, you’re a slut. It’s a trap.” Let’s stop basing other people’s worth on how many Annie’s-goers they did or didn’t hook up with last Thursday night. Sex is a personal choice, and any choice is okay as long as it isn’t hurting someone else.
  • Because of the simple fact that students need to be taught what consent is, since so many don’t understand the basic truth that No Means No, that No does not warrant pressure, convincing, force, or guilt. We constantly hear girls praising their boyfriends for respecting them, when it is such a basic requirement of human decency that it shouldn’t need to be rewarded. This form of disrespect should not be so ubiquitous that respecting consent becomes stunning. For the record, consent should never be anything less than a continuous and enthusiastic “yes”.
  • Because if you don’t feel like there’s a problem, then you’re either part of the problem or you’re not looking.
  • Because people still get angry hearing the word “feminist”. If I call myself something like a humanist or an egalitarian, it feels like giving in. The word has a bad reputation, but all it does is point out that feminine traits tend to be criticized, and that is the truth.
  • And the final reason why we need feminism? Because people still believe that we don’t.
One comment on “Why You Should Be a Feminist at JAC
  1. As a JAC teacher, I am so proud of those of you who wrote this piece and started this club (especially in the face of such opposition). Here’s to you all.

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