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Breaking Down Barriers

“Feminism: The advocacy of women's rights on the grounds of political, social, and economic equality to men.” If I would have been asked what feminism was in August, I would have recited that definition - equal rights of the sexes. Over the past couple of weeks, my idea of feminism and what it means to me has morphed into something much bigger than equality.

On September 2nd, scrolling through my Facebook feed, I read post after post by my fellow classmates, irritated at the fact that rompers were banned due to the fact they were “distracting.” I got the idea to get all of the girls together who would protest this ban and ask them to wear rompers to school and pose for a picture. It would be a fun way to show the outpouring support from everyone across campus. I created a Facebook page that night just so I could get a head count of girls interested in participating in the protest. Within a couple of hours, the group of six girls grew to a group of over 300 people. The next day, about 50 of those 300 people met in the auditorium foyer to take a picture before going to class and going about their day normally, albeit, while partaking in a protest. This meet and greet included people from all four schools on the campus. People I had never met before were introducing themselves and asking to add me on social media. It strengthened the relationship between the schools, reminding students that we aren’t all that different. We all share common interests and, most importantly, we are all a part of the district and can work together to create positive change. The district recognized this wonderful event, commending the protesters on their critical thinking skills as well as their ability to create change. The administration worked with the protesters to alter the dress code to allow rompers to be worn at school.

Following this peaceful protest, Ms. Roznowski, the orchestra teacher on campus, asked me to co-teach a Gender Equality seminar with her, Ellie Koput, and Jessica Ruiz, two other students. We would each get one day to teach the class about a subject that we thought would be interesting and informative. As someone who is interested in becoming a journalist, I decided to teach the class about the relationship between media and gender equality. Ellie taught the class about how feminism affects people other than women, and Jessica gave the class an overview on the history of feminism. We held discussions about many different topics, such as advertising and how each of us contribute to sexism every day. I was really happy with the responses from the class. I had my reservations about the amount of people that would engage, but most everyone in class talked at least once and made really great points. I learned so much from teaching, and I’m so thankful I attend a school that allows me to explore my interests as well as things that are important to me. I know I would not have this amazing opportunity elsewhere.

Feminism means a lot of different things to a lot of different people. Some might think that feminism is a movement made of angry, privileged, white women, complaining that they aren’t treated better than men. Others might think that feminism is about eradicating stereotypes and gender roles. I think feminism is about learning through experience, understanding the issues of inequality, and taking a stand. I think feminism is about equal rights, but more importantly, I believe it's about a group of people who might not think they have a lot in common, but change their world despite that.

 

Natalie DeRoche

October, 2016