Despite challenging tasks ahead, feminists remain confident, hopeful

Column by Carrie Bass

After years of griping about UK and fanatically following the Gilmore Girls, I finally got the chance last weekend to see Harvard University and feel the full force of my inadequacy.

In fact, I have returned from my weekend trip to Boston with a whole new myriad of emotions: frustration with the fact that Harvard will not let me in, excitement over the awesome variety of cute little stores in the Massachusetts Bay Area, envy over the peaceful houses that those legendary “rich liberals” live in outside of Boston, and sadness that the fantasy of bumping into Matt Damon followed by our romance and my ascension to pop-culture-icon status never really panned out.

Alas, I was not in Boston to strike up a love affair with any local celebrities or attend a meet-and-greet at Harvard, but instead to rub elbows with some of my favorite contemporary feminists at Women, Action and the Media, a conference for progressive women in the media.

Fortunately, I have returned triumphantly on that note, having been convinced that I am not alone on the island of feminism nor are the inhabitants as unattractive as many feared they would be.

Aside from being dressed in the trendiest clothes, wearing the hippest glasses and rocking the chicest hairstyles, the ladies at WAM! were also at the top of their intellectual game. Turns out, feminism is not dead (ha!), and there is still a lot of work to do on behalf of women and men right here in the good ol’ U.S. of A.

The first keynote speaker was Helen Thomas, legendary member of the White House Press Corps, who is detested by President George W. Bush and beloved by everyone else. That’s the best sign of good character, if you ask me.

She noted that the time has come to elect more women to office (not just the office of president) and that despite the changes that have occurred in the media and in the political arena since she began her career decades ago, our elected officials do not represent their constituencies accurately in terms of sex, race or religion.

That’s right ladies and gentlemen, despite our desperation to proclaim equality, the fact remains that the greatest test of equality is in our government structure, which unfortunately remains dominated in the upper realms by white men.

The glass ceiling was brought up again by Ann Friedman, co-editor of the blogging Web site and one of the coolest people ever with whom I have been in the same room.

In her experience as a writer for mainstream publications, including her current position at The American Prospect, Friedman remarked on the level that seems to exist within all corporate structures past which only a few token women and minorities are able to progress.

While there has been an increase in female CEOs and four of the Ivy League university presidents are now women, these are not representative of the greater number of businesses and institutions of higher education where men continue to dominate higher-level positions and women still are paid less than men. Even when these amazing women do reach the pinnacle of success, instead of congratulating them, the mainstream media spends most of its time wondering aloud whether or not female CEOs would rather be at home raising kids and baking cookies.

Just within these two spheres, government and business, women and minorities continue to be underrepresented.

The importance of making these changes should be evident. Instead of shunning feminism due to silly misconceptions, women and men could easily ban together under the feminist flag to collaborate and make the changes that need to be made.

Feminism is not dead; it is back and better than ever.

Carrie Bass is an art history senior. E-mail [email protected].