Looking Back Moving Forward Feminism Conference Reflection

1070 words - 4 pages

When I was a senior in high school, something happened one day that I never forgot. In my U.S. History class, the teacher asked us to raise our hands if we considered ourselves feminist. My hand shot up without hesitation, but when I looked around, I immediately felt ostracized. Nobody else raised their hands, and I couldn't understand why. Didn't they feel that women should have every right that men have? Didn't they believe women and men were equal and therefore changes in our culture were necessary? Didn't they know that we as a society still had a long way to go? And then it became apparent to me in that moment that, perhaps, it wasn't the ideology (at least I would hope not), but the word "feminist" that people were hesitant about.Before I went to the feminism conference on the weekend of April 8-9, 2005, I felt strongly that I was a feminist, but had trouble educating other people about what it means to be a feminist. The word feminist has become almost a dirty word to so many people, who in my opinion, are ignorant to its meaning. For them the " f " word (as many feminists will joke) conjures up many stereotypical images of bra-burning, man hating, women I guess, and the significance of what feminism is about gets lost on them. The conference held most it's significance for me by showing how feminism relates to the experiences of such a wide range of women, which just proves once again to me that it isn't just about a certain type of woman, but about all of us.The conference was kicked off by listening to the keynote speaker, Inga Muscio. When she spoke about Shirley Chisholm, the African-American women who was candidate for the Democratic Presidential Nomination, it honestly made me a bit sad to sit and think of how little things as changed, like a dream lost. It was a speech that was inspirational in that it made me feel like we all have a lot of work to do, and I was going to do my part.The next morning, I found myself in front of a long table that displayed all kinds of vibrators, dildos, and lubes for a kind of "Sex Toy 101". My friends and I agreed it was one of the better ways to start of a day. It was put on by a women who had opened a store called "It's My Pleasure", which is basically an sex toy shop that women can feel comfortable shopping in because it doesn't carry sexist products like most adult shops that are run my men looking to make money. Besides it being really amusing and educational experience, it was empowering to be included in a group of women that didn't feel like they needed to be ashamed or embarrassed about their sexuality.The next part of the conference that I went to was called "Prostitution and Serial Killers" and was run by Leslie Bull, who had been a sex worker for years and was now speaking and writing about her experiences. Most of what we did was discuss and watch footage of Eileen Wuornos, who was executed for the murder of seven men....

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