Here’s a theory: Our current perception of feminism is based off of the screaming of the movement’s vocal, radical minority.
The same can be said for many of the movements jockeying for coverage right now, namely that the genuine, majority viewpoint doesn’t get covered because it’s less interesting. This all makes it seem like the level-headed people do not exist.
There’s a lot going on with modern-day feminism. Most of what I’ve seen and written about is bad. I’m hopeful it isn’t nearly the whole truth.
I recently found myself visiting a friend at a networking and panel event for female empowerment in Washington, D.C. It’s the second most liberal city in America. For context, 90.48 percent of the District’s population voted for former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential election and 92.46 percent voted for then-Sen. Barack Obama in 2008.
“Apprehensive” is the perfect way to describe how I felt. My friend is not conservative by any measure of the word, and I was worried I’d be stuck skulking in a dark corner desperately hoping no one smelled my “wrongness” while impassioned feminist advocates played the victim card and disparaged men in broad swaths. I didn’t trust that our wonderful friendship would mean any of the women in the room were as willing to reach across the isle.
What actually transpired was rational, sound and, most importantly, helpful to young women of any viewpoint.
The first bit of advice all the the panelists agreed on was this: “Take risks, it’s really important.”
Speakers fostered ideals like paying it forward, working hard, building a community around yourself and bringing women up without tearing men down.
“We’re not neglecting men,” one of the five panelists said. “Include men in the conversation. I got [to] where I am because of men and women.”
Learning how to work in a team is critical, another panelist said, because if your team fails, you fail. There’s no time for pity parties and no time for the blame game. Taking responsibility is paramount.
The life lessons they stressed were applicable to any young woman or man trying to build their personal and professional lives. It was all sound advice.
Interrupting people is a “shitty habit” that’s not gender exclusive, a panelist said. “It’s something everyone should work on.” Being heard is about “confidence … Trust your gut. A part of it is making interruptions irrelevant. Greet them as a professional.”
The event’s theme was strength. Confidence in yourself, your ability to succeed, overcome obstacles and handle the tough times. Fortitude is something many young adults lack, but it’s critical to being able to deal with the inevitable bad days, stress and pressure that come with growing up and screwing up.
No one mentioned anything about what women “deserve” or are owed. The talk emphasized equality of opportunity, not outcome. As for dealing with hurt feelings? It’s all about building a thick skin. “People make judgements, that’s the way the world is.”
By the end of the panel I turned to my friend and said I couldn’t believe not a single person had taken a jab at President Donald Trump or the right. In fact, politics hadn’t been mentioned once. She cracked a joke about liberals I won’t repeat here. We both laughed, and I left happier than I’d arrived. (RELATED: Healthy Feminism Still Exists. I Found It In An Auditorium In New York City.)
If once is happenstance and twice is coincidence, let’s hope I’ll be back writing about how three’s a trend.
The critical takeaway is not that radical feminists dominate the airwaves, it is that traditional feminism is alive, well and fills 4-hour events in the second most liberal city in the country.
Healthy feminism bolsters a lesson we learned as children: Things exist even though we can’t always see them.