Farr side: Speech changes conservative ideas

After being raised in a completely conservative household where doctor Laura Schlessinger and Rush Limbaugh were promoted 100 percent, I never in my life would have imagined myself skipping class Wednesday to hear one of the leading feminists, Gloria Steinem, speak.

I have no complaints in the way I was raised. My parents, although conservative, are very open-minded people and always encouraged me to learn about others and form my own opinions on issues. My parents, however, are what you would consider old-fashioned.

From a very young age it was made known that girls shouldn't call boys. My mom would always tell me, "If he really wants to talk to you, he will call." On the other hand it was perfectly acceptable for my brothers to call girls. Hmmm.

My mother would also tell me that if he doesn't open a car door for you, you stand there and wait until he does -- even if he has already gotten in. She said she has had to do that with my dad a few times and they will get the message eventually.

These are just a few of the issues that are not well-received today. They are considered conservative and "Leave it to Beaver," to most people. Nonetheless, this is how I was brought up.

So, on a whim, I decided to take a women's studies course this semester.

"I just need 3 credit hours," I said to myself while making my schedule. Sexual behaviors class was full and I couldn't get into any photo or art classes, so I was left with one option for my schedule: Women's Studies 210.

I had a major attitude the first few weeks of the class as I remembered the conservative things I had been taught all my life. The misconceptions I had about women's studies floated through my head. I even refused to buy one of the required books, written by Gloria Steinem.

"I don't need to read her crazy left-wing thoughts on feminism," I said to myself. Little did I know a few months later I would be sitting in Emens Auditorium listening to every word she had to say.

During our class, much of the time is spent in group discussions. Interrupting my day dreaming, the discussions really started to grab my attention.

Women are statistically not taken seriously by their doctors?

That made me raise an eyebrow and pay attention.

Women will, on average, only make 70 percent of what men will in the job market?

Excuse me? Did I hear that correctly? I will get the same education as any male but potentially make less than him even if we have the same qualifications? That's just not right.

Women were actually thought of as "not smart enough" to vote until the 1920s when the 19th amendment was ratified?

Now I know why Susan B. Anthony is on a coin.

Mostly I was upset with myself for having such a narrow mind about women's issues -- considering they may really affect me someday. I was also angry because I was never taught any of this pertinent information throughout my education -- until I "accidentally" took a women's studies course. This made me ask myself, how can we be women and not know at least the basics of our history and how we are viewed by society today?

However, guys, it is not only important for women to know these things. Everyone should concern themselves with equality. And in a nutshell that is what feminism is. Don't let the word feminism throw you off like I did. According to the dictionary, feminism simply is the belief in the social, political, and economic equality of the sexes.

Feminists are not all extremists, lesbians, man-haters or "unhappy women who can't get dates," as I have heard them stereotyped as before. They are simply people who want equality. Don't be ignorant. Open your mind a little and educate yourself -- at least a little. These issues are important.

So, after just a little bit of extra reading and listening I definitely consider myself a feminist who is now minoring in women studies.

Who knew?

Write to Meghan at mefarr@bsu.edu


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