In celebration of Women’s History Month, SURF (Student’s United for Reproductive Freedom) hosted their “We Should All Be Feminist” event with the purpose of bringing people together to express their viewpoints on what it means to be a feminist. SURF wanted the event to be a safe space for the attendees to open up about past issues and topics that have affected their lives.
According to the organization, the basic definition of feminism is “equality across the masses.”
Madison Nielson is the president of SURF. She hopes that events like these can bring the community together to help break the stereotype of a what a feminist is.
Teokjari Seefoo, an attendee, agreed with Madison. She explained that when she expressed to her parents that she is a feminist, they immediately began stereotyping what a feminist is in their eyes.
“My parents said, ‘What? Are you going to dye your hair pink now and not shave your armpit hair?'” Seefoo said.
Seefoo mentioned the current fight for feminism in Mexico.
“It’s a revolution right now,” she said. “Women are painting over churches and governmental buildings because they are tired. Cops have literally raped women.”
She added that the government has not done anything about these issues happening to women.
Nielson experienced some discrimination growing up, including having to endure comments made about her being too “manly” or “looking like a lesbian.”
Some attendees agreed that most of their parents were similar in how they expected their daughters to be “girly.” Some women explained that their parents felt happy when they wore dresses and make up.
“My mom would tell me, ‘If you would just get ready, you would have so many boys lined up to you,’” Margarita Tello, an attendee, said.
The event also covered gender roles and the difference between how parents treat their sons and daughters.
Nielson explained how she feels the older generation has a lot to do with these roles.
She expressed how her own parents reinforced gender roles, with her father attending to yard care and car maintenance while her mother did the cooking and cleaning.
Some of the women who attended shared experiences about how their parents held them to an unfair standards compared to their brothers. One attendee mentioned that if her brother got bad grades it was fine, but if she did, it was not acceptable.
Nielson mentioned that if she becomes a mother, she will not impose gender roles on her children.
“That was something I really struggled with…my gender identity for a long time. I just didn’t feel I was ever woman enough,” she said.
Nielson said that her parents do hold a lot of guilt for their actions throughout her childhood. She said they work a lot harder now to support her.
As the conversation continued, the people attending became more and more comfortable with sharing personal stories with each other. Some other topics that came up were physical abuse, controlling relationships, toxic people, divorce and sexuality.
To end the event, Sidney Thompsons, president of education and outreach, had all attendees paint on a canvas what feminism means to them.