The Forest Scout Feminists: What feminism means in 2018

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Sophia Bienkowski

According to the Merriam Webster Dictionary, the definition of feminism is “the advocacy of women’s rights on the basis of the equality of the sexes.” This is what feminism should be about. Unfortunately, however, that definition has become skewed. Today, the public opinion of feminism is the belief that women are better than men, that they should be given more opportunities, and deserve more than the opposite gender. This belief is flawed, and myopic. The world is a lot more complicated than simply one gender being better than the other. In previous centuries, in most societies women were given less opportunities than men. Especially in developing countries, the expectations for years was for women to be followers, not leaders. But the tides are turning, women are rebelling against societal expectation more than ever before.

Recently there has been a wave of movements inspiring women to stand up for themselves and against their harassers. Movements like #MeToo and Times Up have impacted the United States–and the world at large–tremendously. These movements have called for an end to the social injustices women face both in the workplace and in life. This includes an end to sexual assault, harassment, and inequality. According to the Me Too Movement, 17,700,000 women have reported a sexual assault since 1998. There is also the argument that some of these allegations are false; however, it is estimated that only 2% to 10% of claims are fake. The #MeToo movement has received some backlash, even from women. In France, 100 impactful women have signed a petition against #MeToo. They are arguing that “Men should have the right to ‘pester’ women.” These women are fighting for men’s rights just as much as women’s, and are still feminists. Other women argued that #MeToo wasn’t anti-flirt, but anti-harassment. Though both opinions are different, the idea that when a woman says no, it means no, is something both men and women agree on. The question is: how do these movements impact our life at Lake Forest High School?

It’s no surprise that both the #MeToo and Times Up revolutions have influenced student life at Lake Forest High School. In previous years, the topic of sexual assault and harassment has been taboo. Recently, however, schools are increasingly talking about the touchy subject. At Lake Forest, students and faculty are prompted to prevent “harassment or disrespectful behavior based on race, color, religion, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, age, or disability.” If any of these actions are noticed, members of Lake Forest High School are responsible to bring it to the attention of the administration. Girls have been motivated to join extracurriculars as well as sports ever since Title IX was implemented. As a result, girls are constantly fighting their own battles. No society is perfect, and it never will be. Hopefully the turn of this century includes the turn against violence and inequality for women.

In many countries, women still have little to no rights, and have limited chances to be educated. People forget that even though our society might have less gender equality, the rest of the world is still facing this problem. In Nepal, for example, only 25% of women are a part of a higher education institution. In India, 68 percent of women are victim to domestic violence and that number continues to grow. The world is far from perfect, which is why women are far from finished. We have the fortune of living in a place where equality is valued, but that is not the norm, and it can always improve.