Look past stereotypes of women and embrace feminist philosophy

As a gender and women’s studies minor, I cannot begin to count how many times I have endured a class where the majority response to the question, “Are you a feminist?” is “No.” The next inevitable question is always, “Why not?”

In my experience, it is not that students deny the equality of the sexes. Rather, most people shy away from identification as feminists either because they are afraid of being associated with the negative stereotypes surrounding the term “feminism” or because they feel that feminism is no longer necessary.

While I would love to address the former, I am afraid that the subject matter would necessitate the space of a book rather than the space of an opinions article.

As far as the latter, I think this belief needs further consideration. One of the best and most pertinent examples of the need for feminism exists in the wide world of American politics.

With the primaries looming in the near future, it is difficult to ignore the role that women are playing in politics and the roles they aren’t. Most people are aware that the U.S. has never had a female president — or a president of a racial minority, of homosexual identification, of non-Christian faith, etc. — while other countries considered to be less free or open, such as China, have. Throughout her entire career in the political eye, from first lady to senator to presidential candidate, Hillary Clinton has been criticized on many counts but mostly because she is a woman.

Think I am exaggerating?

In general, people seem to know more about Clinton’s fashion mistakes than her politics. Recently, scandal swept the Internet and news programs when Clinton appeared to display an inch of cleavage. To reiterate my point, more debate ensued over Clinton’s cleavage than has occurred thus far over her campaign platforms.

Additionally, Hillary Clinton continues to campaign in her husband’s shadow, as an imitator constantly assumed to mirror her husband’s political principles.

On the state level, while Kentucky has seen a female governor, its Senate seats continue to be reserved for the boys club. The lack of female representatives in Kentucky is hardly a phenomenon particular to the Bluegrass state.

The U.S. consistently ranks low on international lists calculating the participation of women in government. Though it is not technically appropriate to consider the “unbiased” judiciary branch in this assessment, women judges are just as few and far between as female Senators.

I do not want to dismiss the accomplishments of those women who have broken into the patriarchal world of politics; rather, I commend them for succeeding against exceedingly difficult odds.

I simply wish to urge liberal-minded (not just liberal) men and women to reconsider their belief that feminism has ceased to be relevant.

The battle for equality in every sense of the word has not yet been won in the world of politics, nor, I suspect, anywhere else.

Carrie Bass is a an art history senior.  Email [email protected].