Feminism for dummies

While some students may consider college just a tedious run on a treadmill of homework and exams, I hope that students are happy to know they’ve received a well-balanced education along with their hard earned diploma when they graduate. You learn things in college that you will carry with you for the rest of your life (and some things you probably won’t: like calculus). That’s why I believe it’s important to take classes that are unfamiliar and challenging. For most people–that includes Women’s Studies.

Photo from Creative Commons.

The idea of feminism is something many people shy away from, afraid of being judged too harshly or stereotyped as a bra-burning feminist. Well let’s get some facts straight: all feminists are not lesbians. All feminists do not have hairy underarms. Not all feminists believe in the same things, and feminists do not hate men. Also most importantly, we do not live in an age of gender equality. Women have come a long way since the 1800s, but we still have a long way to go.

The feminist movement has been going on for hundreds of years. Despite the fact that you’re just starting to hear about it more and more, women have been fighting for equality since the 17th century. Think feminism doesn’t apply to you? If you ever watched Disney movies as a child, you are very wrong.

One of the best things you can do at college is get informed about issues that affect your everyday life. Feminism is one of them, regardless of your age, gender or social class. And boys–you’ve been watching girls drool over Ryan Gosling for years, trying to figure out what exactly makes him so dreamy. He’s a feminist.

What exactly is feminism? Feminism is the study of women’s issues, and how history has shaped the stereotypes women attempt to conquer today. You study body image issues (a study that’s just as relevant to males as it is to females), gender roles, the wage gap and rape culture. The more informed you are about these issues, the more you can do to fight these stereotypes and work to make our world an equal place for people of all genders.

Radford University offers a variety of Women’s Studies classes, and there’s even a Women’s Studies club if you’re particularly interested in the subject. There’s no shortage of ways to get involved or get informed. Don’t let your ignorance cause you to be taken advantage of. Educate yourself.

While RU doesn’t offer a major in Women’s Studies, they do offer a minor. Minoring in Women’s Studies can have many benefits once you graduate, including the fact that gender roles and feminist issues are everywhere. Women’s Studies can also be applied to everything from colonial history to English literature. No matter what your interests or your field, you will have relevant information to impress a possible employer, and skills to evaluate your personal existence. Those are the real skills we should take away from college.

It’s hard to cover all the principles of feminism in one short article, so I highly recommend you take a Women’s Studies 101 class. If you’ve ever felt like the “odd man out” (notice common phrases like this one always use a male subject instead of a female or gender neutral one) or odd woman out because of your gender, skin color, height, weight or really anything else, try studying the subject. We’re all aiming for a world of equality, and even though it’s a far off goal, education will help us get there.