Anna Galipo: The meaning of feminism at CWRU

Real Talk

Today, the word “feminist” is highly contentious. The word itself is able to spark countless debates. Whenever I hear it, I cannot help but think of all the times I describe myself as one, only to hear “Oh, you are?” as if it were a bad thing.

To some, the word simply means the belief that women deserve social, political and economic equality to men (aka the dictionary definition). To others, feminism is the idea that women want to take over the world and disregard men completely (the all-too-common societal definition).

Either way, I would argue that it is not unreasonable to say that the desire for women to be given the same opportunities as men is something that most of us should strive for, whether or not people want to believe it is feminism. Feminism is something that should be embraced. But how is Case Western Reserve University doing in the struggle for gender equality?

As a female student, this question interested me, so I decided to do some research. I began by asking a fellow female student if she believed that the portrayal of feminism on campus was sufficient. She replied: “I’m not very aware of groups or movements related to feminism on campus.”

As it turns out, she wasn’t wrong. According to a list that can be found online from the Office of Student Activities & Leadership, there are over 150 student groups recognized and funded by USG (there are hundreds more, but not all are under the jurisdiction of USG). Of those, only three are specifically for women.

While it is wonderful that we even have programs like these for women, I was somewhat taken aback by the seeming lack of student interest in supporting women.

Of course, that is not to say that CWRU has not made advances in feminism. Speaking for myself, more often than not, I feel that my work is held to the same standard that men are held to. And, I am sure that hundreds of women at CWRU could attest to the fact that they feel as though they are being treated fairly and justly in comparison to men. But what about the women who don’t feel that way? What about the instances, though often isolated, in which women are not treated the same as men, simply because they are women?

Oftentimes, the sad fact is that feminism is swept under the rug. Perhaps some believe that there is no work left to be done. Perhaps some have become too comfortable with the advancements that have been made and believe that feminism is not worth focusing on. Or maybe some believe that women actually should not be equal to men. Whatever the case may be, there is always work that must be done. Feminism is no different than any other social movement. It takes time, effort and numbers.

Just because women “seem” to be treated equally does not guarantee that they actually are all of the time. Whether it’s in the context of school, work or personal lives, it is almost guaranteed on college campuses that women and men are not treated or perceived equally. At an accredited, progressive university like CWRU, this shouldn’t be the case.

Simply put, there needs to be a greater awareness of feminism and the meaning of the term. CWRU is an amazing and open-minded place; there is no reason people should not support the equality of women on this campus. While it may seem that the struggle is over or that there is no point in trying, the fight for equality does not have to end here.

Anna is a senior English and political science major.

Updated Oct. 11, 2015, 7:04 p.m.: An image published alongside this column and text in the column pertaining to that image was removed.