What Does Feminism Mean to You?

Angie PrencipeAngie Prencipe

“To me, feminism means working towards achieving global gender equality. Everyone is born equal, regardless of gender, race, or sexuality. However, there are so many aspects of life in which people are not treated equally: politically, economically, legally, and socially.

“Feminism is about working against the systems built to keep certain groups of people oppressed, and striving towards equality for everyone. It means fighting for intersectionality and acknowledging how race, sexual orientation and socioeconomic status affects feminism. It means having civil conversations with people I fundamentally disagree with to try and advocate change. It means taking a meaningful stance on injustices and standing up for inequalities, even if I'm the only one standing.”

Kylie Smith Kylie Smith

“Being a feminist means that you fight for the equality of all people. It's important that your feminism is intersectional; it should not exclude people based on their gender, race, socioeconomic status, ability, or sexual orientation. Feminism allows people to look at the world not as it is, but how it could be. It shines light on problems that the patriarchy perpetuates, but also comes up with ways to fix these problems.

“I'm a feminist because ever since I was a little kid, before I even knew what a feminist was, I hated when things weren't fair and wanted to help people however I could. Today, I often look at feminist issues in my research as a graduate student in the Sociology Department. Currently, I'm researching gendered differences in emotional labor among professors.”

Elissa NolteElissa Nolte

Here's what feminism means to her: “Feminism means having common sense. It's the idea that everyone is equal and deserves to be given this equity. However, in our world, this isn't always the case, and that's where feminism comes in.

“Feminism helps enlighten everyone of this injustice and acts as a way for others to take action to help make equality happen. Feminism isn't just “women's issues.” It helps fight racism/classism/ablism/ageism/patriarchy/homophobia/etc., and everyone can be a feminist, regardless of race, gender, class, religion, ability, etc.”

Cori Woods Cori Woods

“To me, feminism means equality. That does not mean that I hate men, that I want to burn my bra, or that every women has to become a CEO; it means I fight for social, political, and economic equality between the sexes. However, feminism is not just about women becoming equal, though that is a large part of the argument—it is also about men being equal.

“For example, if a man wants to be a hairstylist or a nurse or a teacher, jobs typically reserved or associated with women, they should be allowed to. Yet, the same goes for women. If a women wants to be an astronaut or a construction worker or a stay-at-home mom, they should be allowed to. Feminists are typically portrayed in a bad light and that needs to change. That is why I am a feminist and why I work in the Women's and Gender Studies Program; I want to spread this message to the IUP campus and, then, spread it to the world.

Mary Reading Mary Reading

“My interest in feminism and equality began at an early age. I was the only girl playing Star Wars at recess with the boys. I always questioned everything, including why there were boy's toys and girl's toys.

“As I moved into my college years, I had a wonderful professor in my Introduction to Literature class, Mary Hills-Hoffman. She always encouraged me to think critically. She introduced me to my first African novel about a young girl that goes through the now illegal practice of genital mutilation. After the class was over I bumped into her at a bookstore. She was looking for good novels to teach the following semester. She told me that I had a special gift for literature and that I need to continue my education and teach. She gave me a little bit of a push and self-esteem to continue on my journey of gender equality, LGBTQ equality, and the focus I am currently working in my PhD program.

“I will never forget that conversation and how it only takes one woman reaching out to another woman to encourage them to seek feminist scholarship and pedagogy. I have had many other teachers in education and outside of academia that have taught me the strength and possibility through their mentorship and passing the torch to carry the mentorship with others.”

Danielle Yushinski Danielle Yushinski

“I gained an interest in women's and gender studies when I visited Thailand in the summer of 2014. I witnessed the struggle, pain and social exclusion of ladyboys. Before this experience, I never thought analytically about gender-based struggles, even in our own society, with acceptance and resources.

“Being an anthropology major, I took anthropology of gender, to learn more about the global view of alternative genders. I love learning about how gender-based injustices develop, and how different genders are culturally constructed and placed in society. This includes what cultural barriers keep people of different genders from having social mobility. This fascinates me and makes me want to learn more stories from people who have lived through social injustices due to their gender.” #WomanCrushWednesday

Cheyne Francis

Cheyne Francis

“I have been a woman for all women since I was young,” Cheyne says when asked about her inspiration to pursue a minor in women's and gender studies. She considers herself both an activist and an intersectional feminist. Cheyne is driven as a “firm believer in human rights” and strives “to be an activist for those intersection[al] groups as well as an ally.”

Most importantly, being an activist means taking action, not just in protests, but everyday life. “Activism is really just being involved in something that you care about as a means to the end of the oppression that you are working against.” She credits leaders like Malcolm X and Dr. King as her inspiration to take a stand, recognizing that activism can be dangerous, “but that is the beauty in activism: it is dangerous, but it is for a specific reason, and if you believe in that reason, it makes it worth it.”

Cheyne says her success and opportunities are thanks to what her mother and grandmother taught her. “It was always the idea of, you have two strikes against you every time you walk out the door. You're a girl and you're black, so we always lived by the philosophy of working twice as hard to get half of what they get a quarter of the time. Which really has led to a lot of my success, specifically grade-wise in college. Luckily it has led me to a lot of opportunities that I didn't know that I was looking for.”

Kimberly AndersonKimberly Anderson

Kimberly graduated with a degree in political science and minors in women's and gender studies and criminology! She's now in grad school for public affairs. When asked about what feminist issues she is most passionate about, she answered: “I would say reproductive rights are what I am most concerned about most now. Right now, in America, the right to control our bodies and make our own reproductive choices is hanging by a (very thin) thread. The thought that the right to decide what to do with my body could be taken away at any moment terrifies me.”

Kayla HolsoppleKayla Holsopple

Kayla is majoring in music education and music performance. When asked if she considers herself a feminist, she responded: “I am undoubtedly a feminist, I am a feminist because I recognize and can't ignore the inequality and inequity that exists amongst gender, sexuality, race, religion… being a feminist helps me advocate, discuss, and educate others in order to help make the world a better place”