So I know I’ve touched upon this issue before, but it’s been on my mind and has been bothering me, so I might as well mention it again.
First, though, I’d like to begin with a little story. Once upon a time, there was a woman named Susan B. Anthony, and she lived in a town called Rochester. While Susan was not off campaigning for enfranchisement for women, she was trying to get women admitted to a college in her hometown called the University of Rochester. And UR (at that time) did not want to admit women. So they set a price and a deadline for her to raise the money for the separate housing and facilities for women, and if she could raise that, women could be admitted. Unfortunately, at that time, not enough money was raised – so she got one extra year to meet the price. This time, though, they raised enough money! Yay! Unfortunately, it was deemed that the donor of the last bit of the money (an elderly gentleman) was not in the right mind set, so it didn’t count. So, Ms. Susan B. Anthony ran from her house to UR and pledged her own life insurance to cover the last bit of money, and women were finally admitted to the University.
Maybe you’ve heard that story before, or maybe you’re wondering why I would choose to include it now. Well, for one thing, we’re celebrating Susan B. Anthony’s legacy soon, so it’s a story everyone should know.
The other reason is (and I don’t mean this to be mean, but it’s been on my mind), I wonder what Susan B. Anthony would say about the women she worked so hard to get admitted here. Because, lately, I’ve only been hearing from many of the women that “I’m not a feminist in any sense of the word,” like it’s a dirty thing to be.
Now, I’ve asked people why they feel this way. For a lot of women, it’s just a bad reaction to some of the more radical feminist ideals that are making them nervous. That’s not too bad, but I would urge them to try to learn more about feminism now and see how much it has changed.
I was most bothered by the claim someone told me who thinks “boys won’t like me if I’m a feminist.” I don’t know who is spreading this rumor, but it ought to stop.
Another reason is that they just don’t like labels.
Now, I don’t like labels that much, either. I don’t self-identify with labels because I find them restricting. But I would ask that a person not necessarily trounce a system of thought that she herself believes in because she doesn’t like labels.
As for these reasons and those people keep to themselves, I have something I want to say to them. It’s okay if you’re not a feminist. I personally don’t care, and I’m sure a lot of people don’t. Don’t be one if you don’t want to.
If you have ever voted in a national election, if you want to go to medical school, if you enjoy having laws protecting your safety, if you like having legal rights as a person, if you want to be an engineer, if you want both a career and family life, or if you are even attending this institution, it’s okay that you’re not a feminist.
But you are certainly lucky that someone else was.
Frank is a member of the class of 2009.