For years, I didn’t appreciate Hockaday as much as I should have. Angry at my parents for doing the unthinkable (sending me to a school without boys), I kept my mind narrow and vision skewed. I wrongfully assumed throughout the past three years that all the drama tied to High School was unique to an all girls’ school. In my mind, the only positive attribute of an all girls’ community was the ability to skip the makeup before school and save 10 minutes of my time. Although going to a single sex school has had its ups and downs throughout the years, it’s taken me until my final year at Hockaday to discover how dramatically the positives outweigh the negatives. Consequently, these positives have affected my views on feminism.
It’s easy to take female empowerment for granted. At Hockaday, we learn that we are just as capable and our voices are just as important as any other human being—whether man or woman. The ability to speak our minds, so innate for Hockaday girls, is not a right that all women enjoy. In oppressive patriarchal societies, women’s opinions and feelings are not valued; often times speaking their mind can lead to oppression or even violence.
While Hockaday has instilled in me a love and appreciation for learning, my access to such an environment is attributable to the country I live in. In the U.S., education is not only a right, but also a requirement for all youth. In many third world countries, where oppressive patriarchal societies are the norm, education and equal opportunities are not rights guaranteed to all women. Don’t believe me? Watch the movie Girl Rising. The whole film centers on nine girls in developing countries, such as Cambodia, Haiti, Ethiopia and Peru, who are risking their lives just to learn. While boys in these countries may be granted education and expected to attend school, girls face incredible hardships, social injustices and the possibility of arranged marriages blocking their right to education. It makes me incredibly sad to know that not all women can share the same rights and enjoy the same encouraging environment that Hockaday girls spend their days in.
Although I may be a feminist, I’d rather consider myself a proponent of equality. I just want for everyone—no matter country of origin, gender or skin-color—to be able to enjoy the same basic rights. Men are not better than women, nor are women better than men. The classic feminist stance (the one that I support)—political, social and economic equality to men—has been altered and obfuscated over the past few years. Aggressive feminist proponents believe in equality, but try to get their point across by putting down men. In my opinion, such feminists are fueling sexism by treating men as if they’re less than women.
Conversely, I find the women who are completely against feminism to be slightly misinformed, seeing as they are usually privileged women who grow up in societies where equal opportunities are expected and given without consequences. Using Twitter as their platform, “Women Against Feminism” base their arguments off of the idea that feminism is demeaning to men. Some of them may be combatting the aggressive feminists, but do the rest really know what feminism is?
The most I can hope for women is that we can all speak our minds (whether in reality or on social media), coming from an educated and informed place. When we’re all on the same page, maybe all of our stances on feminism will be the same too. Just maybe.
– Elie MacAdams