Who Needs Feminism?


A group of Duke students have come together to launch a PR campaign for feminism – check out their blurb below. This certainly challenged me this morning – because I couldn’t pin it on one reason. It’s is basically like asking who needs equality? Because that is what feminsim is about – it is asking the world to stop and see through a lens how they are objectifiying others, creating hierarchial structures that oppress and do not give the same opportunities. I am an American by birth living in South African and in both countries I have seen very obvious patriarchal societies. Feminism doesn’t just oppress women, it oppresses men. My husband is a great example, the patriarchal religious institution in which he grew up in told him from a very early age that he had to be a strong leader over many powerful men – and since then he has often felt like he was failing his purpose when he wasn’t climbing up the “religious ladder” (and thank God he has a mind of his own that has helped him see how destructive these voices have been). Early in our marriage we went to seminars where the men were told they had to lead their marriage and make final decisions – for couples that want equality, this can be very destructive. And often within a church context, when a woman is a leader in her marriage it is looked at very negatively. On the other hand there is my gay friend who tried to live within the constructs of religion as a gay man but was told that he needed to force himself to like girls, to be with a woman was better than being with a man, even if he had to fake it. Another example is the unwanted pressure that many men feel about being “manly men” – and the stereotypes that ensue when they don’t live up to these roles. There are many many more ways that feminism is about breaking down stereotypes for men as well as for women.

Here are just a few of why I personally need feminism.

I need feminism because…

  • I am tired of being an object
  • I am over being “the other” less important voice
  • I have a voice and contribution to society, the work room, to the church, in my family that is just as valuable as “his” voice
  • my God is a feminist
  • anyone that calls themselves a “christian” (ie: follower of Christ) should be a feminist as well
  • someday soon when I have a little boy or girl I want them to know that they can be whoever they want to be without fear of being told what they “should be” or “can’t do”
  • democracy is about freedom, and yet the two “democracies” I have lived in do not allow women the same freedoms
  • I want to be free from stereotypes
Why do you need feminism? 

Who Needs Feminism? Identify yourself as a feminist today and many people will immediately assume you are man-hating, bra-burning, whiny liberal. Perhaps a certain charming radio talk show host will label you as a “Feminazi” or “slut.” Even among more moderate crowds, feminism is still seen as too radical, too uncomfortable, or simply unnecessary. Feminism is both misunderstood and denigrated regularly right here on Duke’s campus. We, the 16 women of Professor Rachel Seidman’s course on Women in the Public Sphere, have decided to fight back against these popular misconceptions surrounding the feminist movement. Our class was disturbed by what we perceive to be an overwhelmingly widespread belief among students that today’s society no longer needs feminism. In order to change this perception on campus, we have launched a PR campaign for feminism. We aim to challenge existing stereotypes surrounding feminists and assert the importance of feminism today.

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