By Brigid Kelley
Jesuit Crusader (Portland, Oregon)
The term “feminist” has strong connotations that need to be debunked, and here at Jesuit there is a place to correctly learn and understand the concepts of feminism and gender equality.
Feminism is defined as “the belief that men and women should have equal rights and opportunities.” However, constantly throughout modern culture the perceptions of someone who calls themselves a feminist are inaccurate.
Three students have developed a club at Jesuit that approaches inequality head on. Gender Equality Club was founded by juniors Phoebe Mol and Mia Baudey, and a new leader Anselm LeFave. These students not only understand that there is an issue, but are actively trying to make the Jesuit campus a safer and more educated environment.
“Phoebe and I started the club after having a very invigorating and very frustrating debate in health class where we noticed there were a lot of restrictive stereotypes and ignorance in a lot of people that go to this school, and we wanted to change that,” Baudey said. “We wanted to create a club that would educate, and at the same time create something that would work towards change.”
With English teacher Ms. Mathes and Principal Hogan as their moderators, Gender Equality Club began last year, and has since started to bring proper awareness to social inequalities present in modern culture.
“We go to a school that can be pretty far behind in terms of social change and we just thought that Gender Equality Club was important to recognize a lot of the things that are going to be important to our peers when they grow up,” said Mol.
This club focuses not on preaching a specific perspective, but instead having open discussions about gender equality, feminism, and current topics relating to the like. The club has received a rapid increase in club attendance with around 15-20 members last year, and then 55 members at the first meeting this year.
“Usually in meetings we have a topic of discussion and then we have an article or a video or an instance that we have in society and how we can change some of that,” said Baudey.
An important aspect to understanding feminism is that it is relevant to both genders.
“Especially for me as a guy, when I tell my friends that I go to Gender Equality Club I always get an eye-roll or a little snicker or something,” said LeFave. “Most people, especially guys, don’t understand what feminism is so they dismiss it and they don’t see it as something that has value.”
These leaders are providing a safe environment for students to explore the concepts of feminism and gender-equality, and because of this the community at Jesuit is fostering into a more accepting and innovative environment.
“A lot of the things are micro-aggressions, it’s not things that we normally recognize as big acts of disdain or disrespect,” said Mol. “It is just side comments.”
In modern culture, and even on the campus at Jesuit, there are actions and attitudes that need to be changed in order to contain a healthy and equitable environment. By noticing what needs to be changed, and recognizing that there is an issue, students and people as a whole can start to move towards an equal society.
“It is never about blaming men or women it is more about how our society has grown into something that is really counter-productive and like our evolution is really impaired by how unequal somethings are and it is not just for women, but also for men,” Baudey said. “It is mostly recognizing those little things because they are important.