The Center for Women and Gender held a panel Thursday to discuss the meaning of feminism. Organized by Ann Austin, director of the center, the panel served as an educational tool for students to understand what feminism is in light of the terror threats and cancellation of Anita Sarkeesian.
There were five panelists: Curt Yonk, a senior majoring in psychology and anthropology; Andrew Swensen, a senior majoring in English; Aly Johnson, a graduate of psychology and fine art; Christy Glass a sociologist and J.P. Spicer-Escalante, a professor of Spanish.
Each panelist had eight minutes to answer three questions: What is a feminist? Why do you choose to identify as a feminist? What role can feminism play in social justice?
Yonk said his mother was a parole officer for adults, being a female in that line of work created many hardships for her. Because of this, Yonk said he identifies as a feminist.
“I credit my mom,” he said. “She is my idol. She struggled with equality her whole life.”
Many panelists brought up the topic of females being in a man’s line of work and how they ask for the equality and fair treatment, no matter where they are working.
Several other issues were discussed such as the idea that women exist for a sexual purpose, the harassment men and women face for challenging gender norms and misogyny. Though each panelist stated that feminists are not man haters, they did suggest that many men in society are still very misogynistic.
When asked why she identifies as a feminist, Johnson referred to the unequal treatment of women and the injustices they face.
“A woman does not belong to her husband any time he wants,” she said.
Johnson said that in 1993 raping your wife was finally outlawed in all 50 states.
“We are not a man’s property,” she said.
Johnson organized of the rally on the day of Sarkeesian’s cancellation. She said she is a very active member of the feminist community and believes in women being active for women. She hopes that one day chivalry will die out entirely.
“Women expect to be treated fairly, and yet they still want a man to pay for dinner and open their doors,” she said.
Glass said feminism is very personal for her, as well as deeply political. She said that all feminism can do is move society forward, discussing the many legacies of feminism such as the right to vote, gay marriage and education for women.
“Gender shouldn’t limit people,” she said.
Spicer-Escalante defined feminism as being equality of the sexes. He said he is a feminist because it is ethically and morally right and asks that we all be a part of the solution to society.
During the Q&A; portion of the panel, the audience wrote their questions on cards and Austin read them aloud to the panel. One question asked was directed to the male panelists: “What do you do or how would you react when you’re criticized by other men for being a feminist?”
Yonk was speechless at first and then said, “I really would have to ask them if they were born yesterday. This is the society we live in.”
Swensen also had a response.
“I would educate them,” Swensen said. “It is crucial for our society to make progress. All human life should be valued equally. You need to actively educate yourself on this.”