“Feminism” shouldn’t be a bad word

Zoe Orechwa, Writer/Editor

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Starting high school is a big deal. It’s scary, it’s exciting, and it’s intimidating! It’s also a time when you are quickly learning who you are and your place in the world.

That’s why in my freshman year at Ashley Ridge, I was astounded to find that something I’d been led to believe my entire life was completely untrue. I’ve always loved sports: I’ve played soccer, softball, swam on a team, done ice skating, running, and loved football and basketball, so I signed up for PE my freshman year, thinking it would be a great way to relieve some stress in my day. 

What I’d been led to believe was that I was as capable as any boy, but at Ashley Ridge, men and women were separated. I wondered why the men got to go outside and run on the track or play basketball while women were playing Just Dance or sitting on their phones in the mini-gym. This went against everything I’d been led to believe and made me mad.

I told the teacher I didn’t think this segregation was right, but they still didn’t let me go with the boys because “I might get hurt.” They explained the county thinks girls don’t participate when there are boys around and that girls don’t want to learn the same skills as the boys.

When we were young, we might not have known the word “feminism,” but we lived it just the same. Girls could play football and run around outside, no more likely to “get hurt” than their male friends. But as we get older, stereotypes kick in: men may stop expressing their feelings because it isn’t “manly” to cry and girls slowly stop playing sports because it’s not “feminine,” but the definition of feminism is, “the belief that men and women should have equal rights and opportunities.”

When I use the word “feminism” my peers often become uncomfortable. If you feel uncomfortable listening to me right now, that tells me we have a long way to go. 

Lauren Silberman broke barriers as the only woman ever to try out for the NFL as a kicker. We celebrate the few women assistant coaches and refs, even though it is 2020 and this should almost be commonplace.

The US has never had a female leader. Two hundred and twenty-seven years, and no woman has been qualified? Why is this? Why is it so hard for a woman to become president? Are we still not raising women to be equal to men? 

Neglecting the talents and gifts of half our society is a terrible thing. “Feminism” shouldn’t be a bad word.