Editorial: Feminism’s role in today’s society

Megaphone Staff

A popular joke begins by asking how you know a woman is about to say something intelligent. The punch line? She says, “A man once told me.”

This is why we need feminism.

The Women’s Forum, a club aimed at empowering females and providing a safe environment for discussion, was formed during the second semester. After the club’s third meeting, its members organized a day-long celebration on March 8, International Women’s Day. The activities featured a photo booth in the cafeteria and black ribbons for students and faculty to wear in visible support of the various feminist movements.

But the Women’s Forum does more than take pictures of students holding empowering quotes. Each meeting focuses on a different topic, from body image to women in the workforce. Typically videos are shown to begin the discussion, but from there the participants control the conversation, adding their input without guided questions or hand raising.

Of all important aspects of the club, the ability to control the course of the dialogue is the most important for young women.

From birth, females are told what to do, how to act and when to speak. In fact, research has found that female students raise their hands and participate in class significantly less than their male peers.

A study published in the Los Angeles Times suggests this is because by age 6 young girls have been conditioned to believe they are less intelligent or more likely to be incorrect about a topic than young boys.

Even if it is subliminal, society sends messages to females of every age in every field about their inferiority. Thus, women feel they must retreat to the background.

The Women’s Forum returns female voices to the forefront. It provides an environment in which their opinions will not be countered but instead valued.

This is not to suggest that women do not try to speak out in public. However, one study published in Time found that men often dominated 75 percent of workplace discussions. Another study, published on Advisory Board, found that in a three minute conversation men interrupted women an average of 2.1 times, men interrupted other men an average of 1.8 times and women interrupted men an average of once. Clearly, women need a setting in which they can fully express their ideas.

By not identifying a rigid structure for the debates, the club, which meets every Day 7, gives female students a control they often do not have in other situations. This is the ultimate crux of feminism: control. Control over their actions. Control over their outfits. Control over their bodies. Control over their careers. Control over their conversations.

This is why the Women’s Forum is essential to fostering an equitable future for males and females. Conversing with other young women who understand rather than judge and listen rather than interrupt instills a sense of confidence. Male students can also learn from participating in the club simply by listening.

The Women’s Forum is creating a generation which will answer the question “how do you know a woman is about to say something intelligent?” with “when she opens her mouth and speaks.”