Feminism in 2015 on the Pace Campus
I’m Andre Arias and this month I went around and I did some research on Feminism today. I’m not sure if it was because I was more aware of it but I noticed many examples of feminists speaking out and asking for a change in the media this month. Whether it was Actress Jessica Chastain calling out for unequal employment in Hollywood combating remarks made by Russell Crowe, or the documentary The Hunting Ground which premiered at Sundance Film Festival on the topic of sexual assault on college campuses, or commercials that aired during the Super Bowl asking what it means to act like a girl, or Barack Obama giving an emotional speech during the Grammys about sexual harassment or at the end of the month when Patricia Arquette used her time on the Oscar stage to call out the wage gap between males and females that still exists today. Even John Oliver on Last Week Tonight called to attention the actions taken by the Labor Party in Great Britain as they attempted to grab the attention of female voters by using a pink van. So because of all the calls to change our society in the media I wanted to know what Pace Students thought about this controversial topic.
Pace University has a 6:4 female to male ratio. I wanted to know do students still think feminism is relevant today and does it have a place in media today and what exactly does feminism mean to them? Answers were varied but there was one common characteristic between all of them they all believed it was about equality and that it was still relevant today. What I found the most interesting though is that when I asked female and male students what they thought their answered varied but not in the way you would think. Male students were the ones who tended to have a better understanding on the topic and really made it something worth talking about it. The female students would most of the time give me a simple answer such as yes its relevant and it means equality. Although, that’s not wrong and she was entitled to her own opinion it showed almost a narrow knowledge on the topic. The female students simply accepted feminism as something that should be a thing and equality is what should happen. They didn’t really question it and why it happens except for a few who felt very strongly on the topic, mostly pointing out how women are treated in the household. Male students on the other hand had much more to say on the topic. The male students focused more on the extremeness of feminism today. They knew feminism should be a thing and that women should be equal but they also said that some women take it to extremes one student claimed, ” a girl will say she’s a feminist but then say you’re the guy you should pay for my dinner”, saying that it’s in those terms that traditional values are still values in todays society which make feminism even harder to define. Another male student said that “we should just look at it as we are all equal instead of taking one side or the other”, when I heard this it immediately reminded me of a famous Morgan Freeman quote about racism, “How do we stop racism? We stop talking about it. I’m going to stop calling you a white man, and I’m going to ask you to stop calling me a black man.” Not single person that I interviewed believed that women are equal to men in today’s society. Though, not everyone agreed that men and women should be equal and that’s where the controversy starts with feminism. When the Plessy V. Ferguson ruling by the Supreme Court was decided in 1896 which allowed for racial segregation as long as it was “separate but equal” people knew things wouldn’t be “equal”. People knew that everyone being equal was the right thing but actually having equality is something that, some would argue, still hasn’t been achieved. That’s the problem with sexism here we are in 2015 and people such as the students I interviewed know that women should be seen as equal to men but yet they’re not equal, women are still 42% more likely to live in poverty than a man and make up 75% of all the elderly that live in poverty.
Feminism is still relevant today and the need for change continues. Abigail Adams was seen as one of the first American feminists. Nearly 150 years before the 19th amendment was passed allowing women to vote, Abigail wrote a letter to her husband John Adams and the rest of the Continental Congress, who were in charge of the formation of this new nation we now know as the United States of America, she simply asked them to not forget about the ladies who were also fighting hard for our nation’s independence from Great Britain. Today things are very different but women still aren’t equal. As Patricia Arquette said ” to every woman who gave birth to every tax payer and every citizen of this nation we have fought for everybody else’s equal rights, it’s our time to have wage equality once and for all and equal rights for women in the United States of America.” Times have changed in this great nation and people and the Pace University community believe change is still necessary in our great nation.