Shortly after the tragedy of the Isla Vista shootings, the hashtag #YesAllWomen began trending on Twitter, spurring nation-wide debates on the growing culture of violence against women. Carnegie students have been active in such debates, one of which was initiated by Abby Govindan ’15:
6 people will not go home to their families just because a male teenage student [Elliot Rodger] felt entitled to sex and felt entirely justified in taking lives because he doesn’t have a girlfriend.
Tell me again why we don’t need feminism.
Govindan’s classmates quickly joined the debate. Camille Hollan, ’15, argued that the support received by Rodger “is indicative of a much larger cultural problem.” Samantha Nadel, ’15, lamented the trend of “women [being] punished for making choices over their own bodies.”
Not all of Govindan’s peers concurred with her argument, however. One felt that feminism “has been trivialized as a movement” because of “[those] feminists who don’t fight for equality, but…seek superiority over men.” Maddie Davet, ’16, delivered an argument similar to Govindan’s, stating that feminism resulted from the “same idea” as the Civil Rights Movement, but has a “different name.” Janadhi Seneviratne was inspired to write her own account of why feminism is important to her; it is printed below.
Lately, #YesToAllWomen has been trending on social networks, encouraging women and men of all races and ages to talk about their experiences and views on feminism. While some are more encouraging than others, through the recent trend, women have been able to come together and talk about everyday sexism, shown in the most mundane ways. One might question how a seemingly ordinary teenager could experience sexism, but even the littlest things can add up. Growing up, I knew from my parents that my job was always to clean and cook, but I knew from a young age that it wasn’t fair. I always cried or had a hissy fit if my brother didn’t do anything, or if he got to cut the lawn and I didn’t. It was one those things that always irked me, but I kept living on with my life with my parents telling me the dangers of the world. Though I knew that there were many dangers, I wasn’t really aware about how bad those dangers could be. Only recently have I been aware about what has been going on and why, and to be honest, it is quite annoying that I can’t walk down the street without having a man stare at me weirdly or call me something weird. I always hated covering up instead of choosing something comfortable to wear in the hot summer days. The few times I have been caught for wearing something “short” was by male teachers, and that really annoys me, that I have to tailor myself so some guy won’t be distracted from his work rather than wear something that is comfortable for me. Though my parents have done everything in their ability to shelter me from the harsh things that go around the world, they don’t realize that, even going into school, I still deal with sexism. Guys will wear shirts saying things like, “Cool story, babe, now make me a sandwich,” or say the rudest things without being aware of how rude those things are. I think the worst part is that most girls are told not to get raped by boys, as opposed to telling boys not to rape girls (though that’s what I heard or seen). Though I know this world is imperfect, I hope by the time I have my own children, we will have true egalitarianism.
– Janadhi Seneviratne, ’16