Feminism, Activism, and Finding Where I Fit in it All

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Hannah Abrahamson, Senior

“Is it possible to be a feminist without being an activist?” I asked on the last day of a class that I took through the Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Department. I meant it as a rhetorical question to point out that I could, in fact, hold feminist beliefs while not engaging in activism. What surprised me was that a few classmates responded quite differently, suggesting that all feminists have a duty to live out their beliefs through activism. My classmates seemed surprised that someone as talkative and opinionated as myself could be uninterested in activism. Did I not want to share my beliefs? Did I not want to hold people accountable for their prejudices? Did I not want to stand with those who were facing discrimination?

The answer to these questions was that, while I am interested in sharing my beliefs and holding people (especially myself) accountable for prejudices, I do not consider it a form of activism. I am not comfortable standing behind a bullhorn or even protesting outside. If I had to mount a protest, it would be, at best, a halfhearted affair. There are countless people on this campus who are both more interested in and better equipped to perform that job than me. So where does that leave a feminist non-activist?

I am far more comfortable living my life in the background, while being engaged behind the scenes. I may not shout out my beliefs, but there is a good chance that I am involved in a workshop that discusses them. I would rather tell a friend that they are being sexist than shout it through a megaphone. While my WGSS classmates said that expressing my beliefs, even if only to a few people, was a variety of activism in and of itself, I see it a bit differently. I see it as living life and hoping that society will continue to progress towards greater equality. And if I happen to talk about the necessity of providing resources and support for survivors of sexual assault or creating more inclusive spaces for trans* individuals, to me it isn’t a form of activism, it’s a conversation.

-Hannah Abrahamson, Women’s Center Staff

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About Ohio U Women's Center

The Ohio University Women’s Center serves and responds to the needs of OU women students, faculty, and staff, as well as members of the community. Founded in 2007, the center is dedicated to creating an inclusive and welcoming campus climate for all members of the community through programs, resources, referrals, advocacy, and education. Located in Baker University Center 403.
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