Women’s Liberation Collective tackles the word ‘feminist’

Brittany Wasko

Feminism is shining through a different light this semester with the Women’s Liberation Collective, the new women’s rights group that promotes gender equality.

This group is based around the same ideas as the Feminist Union that disbanded last semester. The WLC was not formed to replace the union, but to serve as another women’s rights group. Students of all ages and genders are encouraged to join the organization.

Katie Troha, junior applied conflict management major and a member of the steering board of the WLC, a group that plans out the weekly meetings, said this group does not favor one gender.

She said the purpose is “to promote the idea that there’s still issues with women’s rights, that women and men aren’t equal now in this country and in other countries. We’re just working to show that to people and to try to change that.”

The WLC holds meetings at 9 p.m. every Wednesday on the third floor of the Student Center. Members discuss common problems that girls experienced in high school and now in college. For example, Troha said the group discusses why girls are taught in high school to hate each other and ways to handle inappropriate comments from men.

Troha also said the group is working toward having freshmen orientation classes address students with the issue of sexual assault. They want students to know exactly where to go and who to contact for help.

Many students have the wrong idea about feminism and women’s rights in today’s society, Troha said, and the word “feminist” has a lot of bad stereotypes.

“Personally I would consider myself a feminist because I think it means that men and women are equal,” she said. “And I think it’s horrible that people think that feminist means women are above men, because that doesn’t make any sense.”

Mary Malone, freshman fashion merchandising major and a member of the WLC, said some people think feminists are crazy.

“I think that people automatically assume that they’re just really radical and hate men, when that’s not true,” she said. “It’s just women are different from men.”

Although the words “feminist” and “women’s rights” sometimes gain different meanings, Troha said she thinks they are the same. Malone shares a similar view.

“I think feminism is believing that everyone is equal,” she said. “It’s just good to believe that women are strong, and it’s not bad to all want to join together.”

Troha said that she tries to fight the negative stereotypes of feminism and encourages people to think about the issue.

“I think it’s really sad that it has such a bad stereotype,” she said. “But I think it’s still a really good thing and has a history that I wish more people would learn about.”

Women’s studies professor Suzanne Holt said she could do without the word “feminist” because of the many misunderstandings of the word.

“Feminism is simply what’s happened when women have found themselves saying ‘no’ when they were told, like children, servants, whores and victims, what to do or what not to do,” she said.

Holt considers herself a feminist like Troha and Malone because she cares about every member of the human race and does not understand why females are mistreated.

“I care passionately and deeply about the human race and really about every kind of life. So why the female species should ever be disregarded, abused, miscast or harmed is beyond me,” she said.

Holt said she thinks feminist groups give women a way to share their opinions.

“A forum for women’s voices — where they will not be drowned out or disregarded by men,” she said. “Opportunities to care about things together that men have no obligation or inclination to care about.”

Feminist groups are beneficial on college campuses because they give people a chance to form ideas, Troha said.

“When you finish college, you go out and work five days a week — you’re not always going to have time to think about things like this or maybe read about it or meet with people to talk about,” she said. “So if people could do that when they’re in college, they can carry it around with them for the rest of their lives.”

Contact student life reporter Brittany Wasko at [email protected].