College-Bound Feminists

7 Sep

YOU are what a young feminist looks like. And it’s that time of year again- when our young feminist friends head off to college. So here are a few tips for those heading to their dorm, whether it be for the first time or the fourth.

After going to school with the same people through elementary, middle and high school, college can be both a breath of fresh air and a strange new environment. While everyone at home might know you’re a die-hard feminist, you might choose to not shove your feminism down the throat of could-be friends at college. So here are some ways to share your feminism without making your new friends choke on it.

1. Get a Planned Parenthood magnet/business card and stick it on your fridge.

This is helpful in so many ways. First, getting a magnet means that you have to know where your local Planned Parenthood is. This means you’ll have an easier time getting there if you need to go for another reason (no being late for appointments because you got lost!). Putting a magnet on your fridge allows any friend who comes over to your dorm/apartment to notice it any time they go to the fridge to get a drink. This will allow them to know that you support Planned Parenthood, but they don’t have to have a discussion with you unless they choose to bring it up. As an added bonus, if your friend who sees the magnet knows someone else who might need Planned Parenthood’s service, they might be able to suggest PP to that person where as they previously wouldn’t have thought about it.

2. Like Planned Parenthood or NARAL or other prochoice women’s groups on facebook.

What do people do after meeting someone new at college? Of course, they go home and look that person up on facebook. You can learn a lot about a person by looking at their facebook page these days. Let your new friends know that you support prochoice groups without bringing it up when you first meet. It’s a great way to start a conversation without actually putting yourself in an awkward place!

3. Wear a prochoice or feminist button on your backpack.

The ” I❤ prochoice boys” shirt is great, but it may be a bit forward for you on the first day of classes. A button on your backpack lets you show that you support equality for women without making it the only thing people remember about you. Even nicer, someone walking behind you who sees your button might strike up conversation and become your best friend, where previously you would have only passed in the hallway.

There you go- three easy ways to share the fact that you’re a young feminist without alienating anyone. Do you, young feminist readers, have any other ideas?

10 Responses to “College-Bound Feminists”

  1. Nakia @ Planned Parenthood September 7, 2010 at 1:24 pm #

    Great, timely post! We at Planned Parenthood appreciate the shout out.

    Young feminists in college can also look up their campus VOX chapter here – http://bit.ly/VoxCampus – and if there’s no chapter at their school, starting one would be a great way to make friends, make an impact, and bring a youthful voice to important reproductive justice issues.

  2. sobdee x September 7, 2010 at 1:25 pm #

    #4: Don’t be afraid to express your opinions.

    I understand not wanting to shove your views down your classmates’ throats. I met many people during my first years of college that i immediately disliked because all they talked about was their interests. But don’t hesitate to talk about about “feminist” issues if you have the urge. There’s a big difference between being a vocal feminist and being Debbie Downer.

    and #5: Be friendly to anti-choice robots… (so you can convert them later)

  3. Leia Peison September 8, 2010 at 12:56 pm #

    i would love to run an ad in my school paper for planned parenthood. how do i go about that?

  4. Rachel September 8, 2010 at 3:20 pm #

    1) I’ve found keeping a handle on current events to be pretty helpful, both in making friends (and weeding out some that you might not be keen on later). Keeping a broad perspective on the world lets you examine things that are happening from more than just one perspective, and lets you put your own feminist interpretation of a set of events out there during a conversation. It could be as short a comment as saying, “Yeah, I know that the new Rihanna/Eminem single is super-catchy, but it ruins the song for me that the lyrics support staying in abusive relationships and seem to justify domestic violence.”

    2) READ! Magazines, books, pamphlets, even news articles… If your roommate can leave the latest Cosmo lying on floor in the bathroom, you can definitely throw your copy of Bitch Magazine into the mix, or maybe even a great ‘zine that you found online that you’ve printed off.

    3) You could also check to see if there’s a women’s space on campus. This is often a great way to link up with campus resources and feminist support, especially if you live on-campus, in a non-urban space or are at quite a distance from a local Planned Parenthood or other reproductive/sexual health resource center. You’re probably not the only feminist on campus (I certainly hope not!) and this is a great way of both expressing your feminist positions -and- meeting like-minded people.

    At York University in Toronto, which is where I attend school/teach, there is a Center for Women and Trans People that offers great workshops, hosts events, and provides a safe space for women/trans folks to connect with each other and explore the potential for alliance-building. This may also give you a handy answer to the question, “What are you doing Wednesday night?” — instead of replying “not much,” you might be able to invite a new friend to watch a great documentary or snack and chat at a queer-friendly event.

  5. Alicia September 8, 2010 at 8:32 pm #

    I’m in Ireland for my junior fall semester and I just found out (much to my disdain and anguish) that abortion is illegal here, though the premier website for Irish reproductive health does direct women about how to go about getting an appointment with an English clinic, but I’m still feeling disconnected and enraged that I’m in a supposedly developed, cosmopolitan modern country that refuses women the right to control their bodies. I’ve been threatened with the berating of a lifetime and to be left in an Irish jail if I get myself in trouble here trying to make contact with Irish RJ groups. Help!

  6. KushielsMoon September 8, 2010 at 11:23 pm #

    Leia Peison- I think the best way to run an ad would be to get the business card of your local planned parenthood, and take it to your school newspaper. They should be able to scan the card into the computer and place it in the newspaper as an ad.

    Rachel- Thank you for mentioning that song! Every time I hear it, I have to switch the radio station.

    Alicia- There is a twitter account of people fighting for abortion rights in Ireland, but I couldn’t find it in a search through my follows. Perhaps someone else could help us? I did find https://twitter.com/EdForChoice which is an account about abortion and the UK.

  7. Rachel September 9, 2010 at 6:51 pm #

    Alicia: You’re right to say it’s a scary situation for women in Ireland when it comes to access to abortion. Having said that, a semester is not a very long time… If you’re only there on exchange perhaps it could be a few months to devote your activism energies to other areas of reproductive justice. There are many ways to support access to reproductive choice beyond access to abortion, and maybe you’d feel more comfortable going in that direction (ie, working to end violence against women, linking up with sex-positive education opportunities, etc), as it’s possible the fight for abortion rights in Ireland might not be your fight.

    But certainly, a feminist keeps her eyes and ears open, and establishes ally relationships in every place that they find themselves. Starting or participating in conversations are activism too! Advocating for reproductive justice in your situation might mean being willing to correct misinformation whenever you come across it. Debunk, defend, disseminate information in the social circles in which you find yourself, if you feel comfortable… You might be surprised at how many people agree with you (there’s actually quite a lot of public support in Ireland for some kind of access to abortion).

    You don’t have to do it all, don’t forget. All the best to you!

  8. Steph L. September 9, 2010 at 8:34 pm #

    I’m going to disagree with the view of Rihanna/Eminem’s song, when I first heard it I thought of it as an illustration of the mentality of domestic abuse – how someone being abused might try and justify it to themselves even if the situation is obviously messed up to anyone watching from the outside.
    I find it a pretty deep and reflective song. Maybe not a happy one but realistic.

  9. EAMD September 11, 2010 at 10:02 am #

    In addition to putting an ad in or reading your campus newspaper(s), you could write for your campus newspaper. This can take a lot of grit and patience, since nothing brings the (anonymous, natch) trolls out of the woodwork like a comment section on an online feminist op-ed, but it can also be especially rewarding.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

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