by Meadow Sandy, staff writer

MAY 2022 – There are many misconceptions about the definition of feminism and what feminists are. Misconceptions include the ideas that feminists hate men, feminism kills traditional femininity, and only women can be feminists.

Bio-Med’s Feminist Club played a game to see where people stood on certain topics. During this game, there are seven lines (in this case chairs) that mark a neutral point in the middle, and on the right, it marks slightly disagree, disagree, and strongly disagree. On the left side of the neutral point, it marks slightly agree, agree, and strongly agree. Participants are given a statement like “Can men be feminists?” and will move to one of the points that corresponds to their opinions. Students are then encouraged to explain their stance and spark discussion. Photo provided by Newspaper and Feminist Club adviser Ms. Jenna Bates.

Cheryl Tawney-Lallemand, a junior at Bio-Med Science Academy and member of its Feminist Club, said, “I would change how when people hear the word ‘feminism,’ they think it’s a bad thing and ‘all men should die.’” She continued, “Most feminists don’t think like that; they want equality in society and in the workplace for all genders and races.”

The traditional definition of a feminist is someone who supports equal rights for women, but over the years, feminism has branched out to help fight for equal rights for all. Robert Greenwood, a senior in Feminist Club, shared his opinion, saying, “I believe that anyone is capable of being a feminist. Feminism is the advocacy for rights for everyone.” He continued, “I would love if more attention was brought to male feminists. If men would educate themselves on what a feminist is by definition, I feel like there would be less pushback on feminism as a whole.”

Ms. Heidi Hisrich, the ninth-grade science instructor stated, “I think maybe feminism should be taught more explicitly.  I can distinctly remember when my high school history teacher asked students to stand up if they were feminists. Only two students stood up. Then he said, ‘Feminism is the idea that men and women should have equal rights. Now stand up if you are a feminist.’  Nearly the whole class stood up. I think it was a memorable way to help us know what feminism is and it certainly stuck with me!”

Feminism aims to change the patriarchal power structure in society, and this can make it a little harder for men to identify as feminists.

“In my lifetime, many more women entered the workplace, but women still only earn about 80% of what men earn, even when they have the same job,” said Mr. Brian McDonald, the ninth-grade English Language Arts Instructor. “I think this should remain a woman-centric topic. But men can certainly be allies within the fight toward more equality.” stated how “…feminist men need to do more — and different — work both internally and collaboratively in order to advance feminist ideals in support.” However, not all people think this way, as some have different views on the feminist movement.

“Feminism is a group of mostly women that think some things in society are unfair. Most of those issues are unfair but others are illegitimate,” stated a ninth-grade student who wished to remain anonymous. “I think that they [feminists] should take a look at the problems that they say they have and look at more facts about it.”

USA Today stated that only about 40 percent of men think the word “feminist” describes them. About 9 percent of them say it describes them very well, and the other 31 percent say that it describes them somewhat well.

“Some people think that women can’t be sexist and only men can be, but that’s just not true. And I think this is an issue that needs to be addressed,” stated the ninth-grader, “Overall I think that men can be feminists if it’s the right guy… I think that it depends on who it is. If it’s someone more masculine then no, I don’t think men could be [feminists.]” The anonymous student continued, “One problem with the movement is the constant fear of getting called sexist. Almost every time a guy tries to talk about a bad thing with feminism, they get called a sexist.”

These perceptions are a frequent topic at Bio-Med Science Academy’s Feminist Club strives to provide students interested in feminism a safe place to share and discuss feminism and feminist issues. It is open to all students and currently consists of about 10 students ranging from freshmen to seniors.

Greenwood talked about his experience in Feminist Club over the past three years.

“My experience in Feminist Club has been very warm and inviting while sharing my opinions and ideas with different people. It’s a great place to educate yourself while in a safe environment.”

Greenwood joined Feminist Club during his sophomore year. “What made me join the Feminist Club was my family group leader, Ms. Bates, who was always so welcoming to me, and a fellow [student] Havann Brown, also convinced me to go to the club on a regular basis. Other than that, just my general interest in rights and advocacy made me want to go,” Greenwood stated.

In the past, Feminist Club has discussed if men could be included in the movement. During meetings, members have also talked about how the patriarchy imposes stereotypes on men.

Tawney-Lallemand concluded, “I think men can be feminist because many can share an opinion. Just because it’s a man doesn’t mean we should exclude them from sharing similar ideas.” She continued, “People think feminism is only for women when anyone can be a feminist.”

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