Lyceum hosts discussion about Feminism with panel of students

Photo courtesy of Ghadeer Alaradi
Photo courtesy of Ghadeer Alaradi

By Ghadeer Alaradi, Student Life Editor

Lyceum hosted a panel discussion about feminism on Wednesday, March 25 in CASL.

The panelists were students Julia Cuneo, Blue Profitt, and Benita Robinson. The MC, Valerie Mercier introduced the speakers and the discussion about feminism began.

The discussion started with a question to the audience about stereotypes of feminists. Words were said from the audience such as angry, lesbian, man-hater, anti-sex, etc.

“Where do you think these myths come from?” asked Mercier.

“Generalizations,” said a member of the crowd. “The stereotypical powerful white man,” said another audience member.

“It’s important to note that women are also perpetrators of stereotypes and how men are socialized into masculinity and women into femininity,” said Robinson.

“A woman can be labeled angry or crazy for pretty much anything,” said Cuneo.

“As a self-proclaimed man-hating feminist, I think that hatred of men is a rational response to the society we live in,” said Cuneo.

“Wouldn’t it be a more accurate statement to say you hate the system you live in, rather than hating all men?” asked a man from the audience.

“I am not saying the two are mutually exclusive, I hate both equally,” she responded. Statistically, one in three women are victims of sexual assault, she explained, defending her anger and hatred.

“We can’t focus on a population and say it’s their fault, because we have to look at our institution and structure and patriarchal system. For instance, up until the 60’s it was legal for a man to rape his wife,” said Robinson.

“Feminists don’t always agree, it’s a very complicated philosophy,” said Cuneo.

The panelists defined intersectionality, which is observing overall patterns in women that prevent them from being equal to men. They explained that intersectionality is comparing and analyzing specific contexts for each person.

For example, Muslim women may be more oppressed because of their religion or women of color may have different situations of discrimination.

The panelists discussed what identities intersect with people, and they asked the crowd to give examples. Some identities were class, gender, religion, weight, political views, ability, etc.

The next topic discussed was why we need feminism today. Some issues that the panelists and audience members came up with were pay equality, rape culture, abortion rights, women’s education, slut shaming, homophobia, media, entrepreneurship, technology, pop feminism, etc.

“Why don’t we give out free tampons? Guys get free Viagra,” said Mercier.

“Feminism is an active thing, it’s not just a label you put on your t-shirt,” said Cuneo.

The panelists asked the audience members if figures such as Beyoncé and Sarah Palin are considered feminists. “If she says she is,” said a crowd member.

Most of the audience members said that they do not consider Sarah Palin a feminist.

The conversation took a turn about Campus Safety and the sexism on campus. One audience member said she complained to Campus Safety about a boy following her around and they said, “Boys will be boys.”

Another audience member said that Student Government has started a program called Safety Walk, where they escort students if needed to wherever they need to go.

The discussion ended with an agreement that feminism is a complicated philosophy that does not have one face or race.