5 Things You Do At School That Don't Make You A Bad Feminist
There are a lot of differening opinions out there about what makes someone a "good" or "bad" feminist. If you're a student, you might ask yourself, what are things I do at school that make me a bad feminist? In reality, though, the answer is: Their aren't any. Choices you make or values you haven't don't make you a "good feminist " or "bad feminist" — you're a feminist if you support and value other women, and work toward promoting equality for all people, including minority or oppressed populations. It's not a competition, and there's no prize for being a "better" feminist than someone else.
When you're in a school setting — whether it's grammar school, high school, college, or grad school — there are often a lot of structural barriers in place that restrict women or reinforce sexism: Think dress codes or the fact that women are so frequently discouraged from studying STEM subjects. And just as often, there can be judgment against women based on their individual choices or values, which is inherently unfair. The point of feminism is not to judge one another or tear each other down, but to support each other regardless of our decisions or perspective. It's about everyone having choices and options— even if you don't necessarily agree with the choice someone else makes.
Here are five examples of things you might do in college that don't make you a "bad" feminist — and they don't make anyone else a "bad" feminist, either.
1. Joining A Sorority
Personally, I was not involved in Greek Life when I was in college. However, I had many friends who were and loved it. I also had some friends who were involved and ultimately did not enjoy the experience. Like any other club or extracurricular, sororities are going to vary depending on where you are, who you interact with, and what your own needs and values are. Sororities often get a bad reputation for being archaic and too focused on partying with fraternities, but in reality, sororities can be great spaces for women to bond with one another, to engage in a ton of community service, and to develop a long-term network for friendship, as well as career opportunities down the road.
2. Choosing A "Soft" Major
While it's inarguable that we need more outreach to get women and young girls involved in programs like STEM, it's OK if you don't pursue a science- or math- related major while in college. Seriously: If you want to major in a traditionally "soft" major like Art History, Literature, or Philosophy, go for it! It doesn't make you any less of a feminist to take on a path that's traditionally "for women." Also, can we stop using "soft major" as a term? Studying something like literature isn't necessarily "easier" than studying something like computer science — it's just different.
3. Not Participating In Take Back The Night
While events like this vary from campus to campus, often people will have the opportunity to participate in a "Take Back The Night" or "SlutWalk" in efforts to raise awareness about sexual violence, feminism, and women's rights. If you want to participate, go for it! But if you choose not to participate, this does not make you a bad feminist or mean that you're not supportive. People have their own nuanced, complicated reasons for what they choose to publicly participate in, so while it's awesome to support someone in whatever they pursue, it doesn't mean you have to do exactly what they do. Like the beloved Amy Poehler says, "Good for you, not for me."
4. Getting Into A Relationship
For decades, when it came to women going to college, it was assumed they were there to meet their future husbands. Now, times have changed significantly; it's common knowledge that women are in college to, you know, learn, and better themselves, and work toward a career. That said, if you do get into a relationship in college, it's totally normal and OK! This doesn't mean you're "husband hunting" or necessarily prioritizing a relationship over your studies. Interpersonal relationships also require nurturing and experimenting, so it's totally healthy and reasonable to date or enter into relationships in college.
5. Marrying Your School Sweetheart
Back in the day, people tended to get married right after college graduation. Heck, at some not too long ago points in our history, people got married right after their high school graduation. Now, Millennials are waiting longer to get married or purchase homes for a wide variety of reasons. While it's often chalked up to the poor economy, it's also possible this is linked to shifting values, where more people are focusing on pursuits like their careers, higher education, or travel before "settling down" in a relationship. That said, if you are in a happy and healthy relationship, there is nothing wrong with marrying your college or high school sweetheart. Doing so definitely does make you a "bad feminist" and doesn't mean you have to :settle down: in the home — unless you want to, of course.
Feminism is about the freedom to choose — whatever those choices are. Make whichever ones are best for you, because none of them mean you're a "bad" feminist.