The misunder-standing behind the new ‘f-word’


Amanda Christovich, staff writer
If I told a man that I can do anything he can do, but I can do it while wearing high heels, would you consider me a feminist? Today, a resounding answer would be yes, because in this statement I am asserting my personal power and competence by claiming that I am better than a man. But the belief that I am better than a man is not feminism. This statement would deem me a female supremacist, an idealism so frequently confused with feminism that it has made the term the “second f-word.”
Negativity towards feminism exists in Beverly’s classrooms. Senior Megan Moreh depicted an incident epitomizing the fear of feminism during which retired teacher Stuart Horowitz asked his students to raise their hands if they identified themselves as feminists.
“No one raised their hand,” Moreh said. “When [Mr. Horowitz] asked why, I raised my hand. I explained that they probably think feminism is about female domination.”
Due to the belief that feminism means female superiority, many Beverly girls cringe at feminism’s toxic implications and claim they are opposers of the feminism. French teacher Irina Kashper noted this phenomenon.
“I find it interesting and puzzling that women themselves are sometimes fervent opponents of the movement,” she said.
History teacher Preston Joseph explained another potential reason why feminism is such a societal profanity. According to Joseph, many historic opposers to the equal rights and birth control/abortion movement “vilified” the term because they believed it disrupted “traditional families.” Joseph also attributed feminism’s negative connotations to how feminism potentially “threatens men” by imposing on their intrinsic duties.
Junior Josh Benhamou identified his personal beliefs on gender role in today’s society.
“Women definitely have the right to do anything that men are able to do,” Benhamou said. “But, before that, they have to accomplish their role as a mother.”
The dismissive, condescending judgement that feminism receives stems from fear of female supremacy, disruption of traditional households and belief in the eccentricity of the movement.
Oftentimes, this misinterpretation is an impulse reaction to the very sound of the word rather than the ideas it supports.
“In my class, when I ask both guys and girls if they were feminists, the reaction is hesitant,” Joseph said. “But then when you start talking about it, everyone is a feminist, at least in varying degrees.”
So what is this belief that everyone seems to backhandedly agree with?
Feminism is the belief that both genders deserve to be judged,to reference the great Martin Luther King, Jr., not by their gender but by the content of their character. And this belief goes both ways. If a woman in a position of power fails to do her job, then her gender should not shield her from any reprimand that a male in her position would receive, a fact stated in this opinion by Maureen Dowd on former Secret Service Director Julia Pierson.
Though Beverly’s gender equality situation is worlds better than that of many schools in the country and in the world, the climate of gender inequality persists at Beverly, where disparities between treatment of brothers and sisters, a borderline sexist dress-code and double-sided slut-shaming all factor into an imperfect gender situation. As long as gender equality and feminism are understood to be synonymous terms, however, equality with continue to grow. That said, it is imperative that feminism’s definition is blatantly clear if change is to continue.
“Ask a feminist if they hate men/want women to take over the world,” Moreh said. “More often than not they will agree that they want equality, not female superiority. People are so preoccupied with the word that they can’t bring themselves to even consider the idea.”
At Beverly, feminism’s misunderstanding stems not from fear of equal rights, but rather a misconstrued belief that feminism looks to decry manhood and establish women as the superior gender; effectively, it is time to reiterate and redefine feminism. So, students of Beverly, beware. If you find yourself believing that your sister should be allowed to attend the same college as you, if catch yourself being or supporting a confident woman or if you reluctantly acquiesce to any gender equality theory, then you might find yourself being “one of those inadvertent feminists” that Emma Watson speaks of.
Read more about feminism at Beverly in the Oct. 10 print edition of Highlights.