I began research for a presentation I was going to give in my Queer Literature class taught by Toby Wray, here at the University of Idaho, when I came across the concept of compulsory heterosexuality. Once researching further into the subject, I found it originated from an author, Adrienne Rich, who first developed the theory of
compulsory heterosexuality. What is compulsory heterosexuality? In literal terms: compulsory, meaning required or obligatory, and heterosexuality, referring to sexual relationships with the opposite sex.
When I think about defining “White Privilege,” I think about how it has affected me in my life. So many moments that I can’t seem to name a specific one. When searching for “white privilege” definitions, it was hard to find some examples. Here is what I found:
“White Privilege: the fact of people with white skin having advantages in society that other people do not have. The concept of white privilege explains why white people have greater access to society’s legal and political institutions.”
I vaguely remember what I was doing at that age. And I remember experiences in which I felt inferior to men, thinking as a young girl that I was not capable of certain tasks just because I was a girl. Society’s ideals can be cruel. Especially when you are told that if you do something a man does, you are not “acting like a lady.”
“How might your life be different if you were a boy (or a boy instead of a girl)?”
Their responses were shocking. However, they were answers I was expecting. Although many were positive, some were really sad to read. These children were interviewed from all different parts of the world by National Geographic.
Sexual Assault is real, people, and unfortunately, it happens everywhere. Including here.
As a college student, I walk to campus all the time. (Even at times where it can be very scary.) I can’t even tell you the times I have checked my surroundings, over and over again while going home, after a late night at the library. From wanting to listen to my music as I walk, but having to put only one headphone in, just in case. From taking classes to learn how to defend myself, because women, unfortunately, get put in danger more than men do. I must take an extra step and extra precautions, just because I am a woman. I always try to look for resources that can help me if a predator decided to attack me by surprise.
Not long ago, my sister told me a capability I was not aware of. On Iphones, you click the power button five times in a row and the image above will pop up. By sliding the SOS button on your IPhone, this will send your location to the nearest police station. I also have learned how to carry my keys between my thumbs. I even learned about a bra with a sensor in it that can alert the police if your heart rate is too high over a long period of time. (Signaling the police.) I must do this and many more things to feel safe. Even the way I act and dress. I always have to have an extra layer of protection before I can go outside because I am not sure what could happen. I should not have to live like this!! All women should have the ability to do whatever they desire.
My question is: Why do I find myself needing to do this? (Right, because I am a woman and because men don’t have to worry about these things. Right.) Also, in order to not get assaulted or raped I need to dress a certain way. I should not provoke him. Because, then it’s my fault. HELL NO! I shouldn’t have to do these things, to feel safe at night. A societal stereotype says, “It’s the victim’s fault for getting drunk and getting raped!” Why? Just why do I have to do this and not men? I don’t think this is fair to me and my peers.
Women should especially not have to conform or give up certain ways of dressing, or acting, to feel like we will not be raped or assaulted. It gets me angry that almost all of men don’t have to do this to feel safe. They do what they want. They act how they want. Because, society says that they are the dominant gender.
Feminism? What is the significance or meaning of that word?
When searching different sites, I found many definitions.
“the advocacy of women’s rights on the basis of the equality of the sexes.”
“Feminism used to be about women getting the same rights as men, such as the right to vote and equal pay at work. Now feminism is a movement full of women who seem to think that their ability to push a baby out of their v***** titles them to bigger and better everything.”
“the theory of the political, economic, and social equality of the sexes and organized activity on behalf of women’s rights and interests”
“A feminist is someone who supports equal rights for women. If your brother objects strongly to women being paid less than men for doing the same job, he’s probably a feminist.”
A word that holds a lot of controversy. Wow. No wonder many people can either be in favor or against feminism based on these definitions. When I asked myself, “How do I define feminism?” I tried to find the right response that makes sense to me. I put a lot of thought into it and here is my response. A while back I saw a picture on Facebook about fairness. Link here…
Equity vs. Equality!
There is a huge difference. For example, Equality is about everyone being fair and being treated fairly. While Equity is about equipping people with the same resources to have the same shot at something. If everyone were treated the same (for example, in this picture boy number three would not be able to see the game. While in the second picture, boy number two and three were given the resources to be able to see the game like the first boy.) Applying it to Feminism, it’s not about being treated better it’s being giving the same resources to be able to succeed in life, workforce, education. When women do succeed it’s not celebrated. Most treat it as if it were not possible.
I asked a few of my friends what their definitions of feminism are. These were their responses:
“I define Feminism as equal pay in the workforce, no matter the gender.”
“Much more than women getting paid equal it’s also about bringing up everything that is wrong with society. Talking about issues that people feel uncomfortable talking about and taking a broader aspect.”
“Having equality and equity between all genders. Not just men having power but respecting and realizing that women can too.”
“Feminism is asking for equity in human rights. Nothing more. Men can be allies to the movement, so in a way, men can be Feminists.”
“Feminism is women being able to make decisions over issues that affect women and be treated socially equal to men.”
Women’s issues are constantly battled for and against. There are fights to improve policies and situations and, often these issues are not taken seriously and pushed to the side. Things like the wage gap, the focus on a woman’s appearance instead of her knowledge, not including women in decisions and legislation about abortion rights, blaming rape victims, and so much more. These women are considered to just be whining and aren’t taken seriously. That is, until a man brings up the same issues and expresses concern. These things aren’t real or serious when a woman experiences it but once a man finds himself in these similar situations they become important. I can’t even count how many times I have said “I just said that,” because it was ignored when I brought it up but taken seriously when the words came out of a man’s mouth.
This is a problem. Not everyone feels the same way or has the same experiences. There are many people that are more and less fortunate than others. This does not mean we have the right to dismiss others problems and concerns just because we have not experienced them. That is the problem with this situation. Most men don’t experience the belittling, the misogyny, the disrespect that women do, so they don’t think women experience these things. We live in the same world so our experiences should be similar, right? No. This idea is absurd. Every person is different and has different experiences including men and women.
Let’s set something straight: I have wanted to be a teacher for a long time, longer than I can remember. At first I thought I’d want to teach elementary, but once I made it to high school I knew that I had found my home in my English classrooms. Plus, I’ve always loved school, as school is where I could succeed.