I have always been a lover of science. I like having a problem, going through the steps to solve it, and getting a proper answer. I always thought that there was a definite answer to everything. Then I discovered English class. Poetry, short stories, monologues, art, plays, so many mediums that are used, with so many interpretations. I was mind-blown at first (literally *makes mind-blown gesture*), so confused and frustrated that the teacher couldn’t tell me “what exactly Shakespeare meant in every line of Romeo and Juliet, or what exactly the reason was that when we were told to draw flowers, I drew three roses and someone else drew two tulips. Why when people looked at the roses they may think, “She must be referring to how society places standards of beauty on us all, but hidden underneath are the thorns, the darkness that these expectations can create.” But I’m like “hey I didn’t know how to draw tulips so I drew some flowers for fun, because I think they’re romantic.”
We don’t always have control over what people get from the messages we try and give them. As I have learned countless times these past few months in PR classes, what we as the creator of a message encode is affected by noise (basically anything from their past or present), it could be that they love the smell of roses, or that they have bad memories of getting dumped, or anything really in their environment that leads them to decode our message differently than we thought they would. Messages can be so easily distorted, misinterpreted, that we don’t really ever know exactly what the encoder meant unless they tell us.
I feel like this happens with controversial issues too often. Especially when it comes to feminism. As I mentioned earlier, I am a lover of science, and I will come back to that. But first I want to tell you about my experiences with feminism. I didn’t know what the word meant when I arrived at school in September. I started my first Women’s Studies course with a lovely teacher Brenda Hattie. I was skepticle at first, thinking am I really cut out for this? I’m not hardcore enough for this women empowerment thing. After months of reading our amazing textbook, learning about the struggles both women and men have faced or are facing, and seeing how feminists in the past and present work to try and eliminate those oppressions, I felt intrigued. I realized that I had always known what being a feminist meant, it was simply a part of me. From the way I can’t help but give money to anyone asking on the streets, or how I buy sandwiches for the woman outside of Pete’s on Spring Garden, when I work with young girls to develop their self esteem, or when I tell people it’s not okay to say “that’s so gay”. I believe in gender, race, and sexuality equality. I worry about our planet, our homeless youth, our societal standards and their effect on women as well as men. So you can call me radical, and man-hating, and a green freak, because I know different. I know who I am, and what I stand for, and that’s making our earth a better place for everyone on it, and living a life I can be proud of.
I think that people need to take a step back, and look at the facts and the figures. We have a problem: debate around feminism. Why don’t we approach it by looking at both sides, figuring out the logical solution, and coming up with that one proper answer? This is how I decided I was a feminist, or rather, realized I always had been. I compared definitions, read scholarly papers, I searched the history of the feminist movements, and decided that whenever there was an anti-feminist argument, there was always a counter argument with reliable, factual, and historical reasoning from reputable sources that made the other seem lacking the important component of reasoning. It may sound like a lot of work, but as my science loving self will always tell you, it’s better to be sure, than to spend forever assuming.
I think everyone has a choice on any issue, and as I said interpretations vary, but I always encourage everyone (like my science loving self) to never give up until you feel confident you have that one proper answer by using all the right steps. And if you get tulips when I get roses, what the heck, they’re both beautiful flowers. But make sure you do your research and can back up that a tulip is a flower before you start telling everyone it’s better than my rose.