Coming up with ideas to write about has never been hard for me…considering the fact that I’m surrounded by mediums that constantly show unjust representations or treatment of women and by occasions that make me realize why I consider myself a feminist. Recently, however, due to the havoc caused by midterms, it seems as if my brain turns off when it comes to anything not constrained to a textbook (which is typical for this time of year). So, I decided to ask family and friends about women’s issues that they see as a problem, ones that they think need to be addressed and I asked them to think about anything that has recently happened or anything that they have seen. Their answers? “Umm…I can’t think of anything” or “How about the way women are portrayed in media?” or “My fiancé doesn’t like that I make more money than him?”
Granted, the issues surrounding media portrayals and the role of the bread-winner are ones that women face and struggle to overcome daily and are of great concern to feminists. But my concern about these answers was more focused towards how stereotypical and apparent these were to me. Of course, I have had numerous classes which pinpointed these topics and have read more articles than I can count about women in the media or in the home. But I was honestly hoping that my family and friends would be able to notice at least one sexist, patriarchal, or unfair thing that happened in their own lives, because that is where feminism needs to begin: in our personal lives. Realizing that we face sexist things everyday is the first step to changing the fact that sexism exists as all. After all, how can we expect to attack massive entities like the media or corporate businesses when we can’t see sexism in our own lives? It was then that I thought, “I’ve had no impact on their perception of feminism…” And it was a depressing and crushing thought.
I know that not everyone sees women’s issues as their first and foremost worry when they wake up in the morning. And not everyone has the same worries and passions in life. But I sincerely hope that the people I discuss my worries and passions with would take a notice of their surroundings and wonder what they can do to change it. It takes the act of realizing that something is occurring for change to occur.
My roommates, for example, can point out blatant sexist things on T.V. but when it comes to their personal action, they don’t notice how sexism impacts them. Most sexist things happen because society has accepted them as normal occurrences of everyday life. If you don’t use certain language or think certain things are funny, there’s something wrong with you, not society. The use of jokes, language, and physical actions prove that people don’t realize the presence of oppression and how simple things that they or their friends do encourages sexism to continue. I’m not trying to overtake my friends’ personal beliefs or even make them proclaim that they’re a feminist, but I’m simply trying to get them to take on a new perspective on the things that happen around them. I think the overall goal as a feminist, at least for me, is get people to open their eyes and their minds to see the possibility of a more equal and happy society.
I am proud of the fact that my family and friends can even notice certain sexist things like media representations or status. It shows that they listen to my little soap-box moments for equality sometimes and that what I work so hard for and study constantly is paying off in a way. Starting with those types of inequalities may lead to their a-ha! moment and they may begin to recognize the small things going on around them. Until then, I’ll keep feeding them information that I know they’ll keep stored until they come across their personal interaction with sexism. Then, maybe I’ll have something more interesting to write about.