By Olivia Heersink
My name is Olivia Heersink and I am currently a sophomore at the University of Idaho.I am a native Idahoan and was raised in the small, rural town of Fruitland. At U of I, I am majoring in Journalism and minoring in English and Women’s & Gender Studies.
While the future is a bit murky, I am exploring the possibility of becoming a writer focused on social or popular issues with national, global, or (even simply), personal impact. Someday I hope to enter the world of law to provide a voice for those who have been silenced or who have never been granted a chance to speak within the boundaries of the legal system. I just want to make a difference.
At the University of Idaho, I am writing for the Odyssey chapter, and am a member of Kappa Kappa Gamma. I am looking to get further involved on campus, which is why I decided to intern for the Women’s Center in the first place—well, that, and a deep passion for feminism.
I believe, in short, that the definition of feminism is as follows: “The advocacy of women’s rights on the grounds of political, social, and economic equality to men.” It seems simple. It seems like feminism is believing that men are equal to women. By that definition, I don’t see why anybody wouldn’t be a feminist. Does anybody really believe that genitalia determine social, political and economic hierarchy? But, still, there are people who shy away from the label of “feminist.” In fact, sometimes feminist is considered a bad word. It is sometimes seen as radical, offensive, and wrong.
So yes, I believe in the short definition of feminism, and everyone else should to, but it’s a lot more than that to me. Being a feminist means not only believing that women are equal to men but that being a woman is something to be proud of.
In almost every society that has existed since the beginning of the human race, women have been discriminated against, denied basic rights and have been viewed as inferior to men. In almost every civilization, men have held the positions of political power, have written the laws and have had a voice. Since the beginning of life, women have fought hard for all of the rights we have today, and it is absolutely true that we are not completely equal to men…yet.
Feminism is important to me because I’m tired of saying sorry. I’m tired of feeling like if I’m too assertive, my peers and superiors may see me as “bossy” or “bitchy.” I’m tired of watching every word I say, and constantly defending my womanhood. I’m tired of being scared of the men who surround me when I walk down the street because there’s a very good chance they see me as less than them. I’m tired of being worried that people might think I’m wearing too much makeup or my clothes aren’t flattering enough. I’m tired of the decisions about my womanhood being made by men on Capitol Hill, instead of by me, myself and I, and I’m tired of living in fear that the rights that my predecessors fought for before me will be snatched away by a new president or supreme court justice. I’m tired of the double standards and gender roles.
The feminist movement gives me hope that one day these fears will be a thing of the past. It gives me a movement to stand behind and be proud of. It allows me to have my own voice.