Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Cross-post: Feminism…the other “F” word?

I asked one of our newest FMLA leaders, Sara Alcid, to share a post on feminism at a women's college that was featured on Bryn Mawr College's blog series celebrating BMC's 125th anniversary. Sara also writes about feminism and gender on her blog Genderead.

Originally posted September 20, 2010

Welcome to Sara’s Scholarly Musings! Sara Alcid is a Bryn Mawr senior majoring in Political Science and minoring in Gender and Sexuality Studies. She’ll be posting her reflections on the themes and events of the College’s 125th Anniversary and providing a current student’s perspective on Bold Vision. For Women. For the World.

Although I am biased, I think students at the Seven Sisters colleges carry their heads high and possess an intellectual and social confidence that I am yet to discover elsewhere. Quite frankly, we are empowered women and the face of the modern feminism. I embrace this role wholeheartedly and endlessly appreciate the way my world view has evolved since enrolling at Bryn Mawr.

While there are certainly drawbacks to being a feminist in a male-glorified world, I would feel that I were cheapening my growth as a Bryn Mawr woman if I masked my empowerment in order to perform a “patriarchal bargain.” Feminist scholar, Deniz Kandiyoti, coined the phrase “patriarchal bargain” to describe instances of men and women’s acquiescence with traditional gender roles in order to avoid the societal punishment that often comes with deviating from these roles.

Despite the fact that the atmosphere at Bryn Mawr is geared toward feminism, the term carries just as much stigma as anywhere else. Although I am certain that the vast majority of students stand for the goals and beliefs of feminism, many are hesitant to deem themselves feminists.

I have some ideas as to why this is the case, but I want to hear from current students and alumnae. Do you think some students come to resent feminism because they feel bombarded by its messages at Bryn Mawr; do “that’s hetero-normative” or “that’s gender-normative” sound a bit too familiar? Do you think there is a fear of being negatively judged for being a feminist by prospective romantic partners? Or does it come down to career prospects—a reluctance to add feminist extracurricular activities to one’s resume or gender studies courses to one’s transcript? Or perhaps you have had an experience with feminism at Bryn Mawr that parallels mine, in that you embrace it and are proud of it.

Bryn Mawr’s new Feminist Majority Leadership Alliance chapter, or Fem-Co. as it was recently renamed, will be setting up a photo booth outside of the campus center this week during lunch hours where students, faculty, and staff can have their picture taken with a “This is What a Feminist Looks Like” sign. Fem-Co. is hoping to begin to break down the stigma and stereotypes surrounding feminism on campus with this photo campaign. Hope to see you there!

-Sara Alcid, President of Fem-Co.

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