The “F” word doesn’t enter a conversation without dragging around stigma.
Feminism has become an infamous topic and for some, even an intimidating one. Perhaps this holds true even more so if there’s only one male in the room.
On Sept. 22, Weber State University sophomore Nathan Blue sat in the lounge area of the WSU Women’s Center surrounded by 15 women who gathered to have an open conversation about feminism.
Blue is a geography major and spends much of his time in the Social Science Building. He’s used to seeing fliers about gender studies, but he couldn’t ignore the “Generation F*: Feminism 101” workshop poster.
Like many people, Blue has friends who’ve adopted feminist ideologies and friends who’ve pushed them away—which made him wonder why he lacked an opinion.
“I came here because I’ve been hearing a lot of conflicting messages about what feminism is, what it stands for…I’m going to sit in, I’m going to listen, I’m going to engage, I’m going to learn about what people here at Weber think about feminism,” Blue said.
The Women’s Center organizes several events that encourage students to ask questions and share ideas. Generation F* workshops focus specifically on feminist ideologies.
Unlike last year, this Feminism 101 workshop was less of an academic lecture and more of an intimate gathering. It provided students with an open space to express their frustrations regarding feminist social issues.
Women’s Center advocacy leader Alexandria Scott talked about the social issues she faces studying in the sciences, a male-dominated field. Men in her class often assume she needs more help because of her gender.
“There are very few (women), so in order to fit in, you kind of adapt to that standard of (masculine) talking and dressing,” Scott said. “How do you not be masculine but still be successful?”
The conversation was led by Women’s Center Strategy Initiatives and Programs Coordinator Gia Ghanbari. Ghanbari touched on the history and myths of feminism and how to break patterns. But education wasn’t her main goal at this session. She hesitated to correct students when they shared ideas she didn’t agree with.
“I didn’t correct people as much because I wanted to get a good sense of the group I’m working with,” said Ghanbari.
Most of the participating students hold positions at the Women’s Center or in Student Affairs. It’s rare that students like Blue, who aren’t directly involved, come around.
“I think the Women’s Center is associated with a lot of ideologies that might not be really accepted by everyone, but I think everyone should give us a chance and come participate in our events,” said Ghanbari.
The next Generation F* workshop will be Nov. 16. Blue is looking forward to participating in more events on campus, and although he was the odd man out, he was thankful the Women’s Center proved to be open and tolerant.
“My takeaway is that feminism is about the freedom of opportunity,” Blue said.