*Editor’s Note: 12:00 a.m. – March 28. This story has been edited throughout.
The Feminist Equality Movement (FEM) at Southern Methodist University hosted panelists who said that while progress has been made gender discrimination has not ended.
“Will this ever be solved? In paradise so to speak,” Susanne Scholz, SMU professor and panelist member said. “Let’s not worry about if there will be an end because in our lifetime we definitely have a lot to work with, we need people to try to make changes while we go along.”
The three SMU faculty members who served as panelists were hand-picked by the FEM student organization. FEM is an SMU organization dedicated to women’s interests on campus. The panel took place in the Armstrong Commons classroom. Julia Cantu, student and FEM president said the purpose of the panel was to introduce the basics of feminism to SMU students.
“I think overall the reason why we hold these panels is there isn’t much involvement from the SMU community about it,” Cantu said.
Anna Hinton, SMU PhD candidate and panelist said that no matter how much effort is put forth, the human condition does not allow for an end to these issues.
“I think this idea that we should have a neat beginning, progression and end reflects a certain kind of mindset,” Hinton said. “We will always be going against these issues and to let go the ‘are we there yet?’ kind of ending.”
The panel members discussed the common misconceptions of feminism, mentioning physical and ideological aspects that most people associate with feminism. Beth Newman, SMU English professor and a panelist said the two biggest misconceptions of feminism in the 1980s and ‘90s were that feminists were ugly and hated men. She said that might still be the case today.
“I have this memory, it goes back many years of a student saying, ‘until I met you I thought all feminist were ugly and hated men,’” Newman said.
Cantu said that the biggest misconception today in younger generations is that people think feminists want to be treated like men.
“We think about feminism as gender equality and I think a good way to put it is that I don’t want to be treated as a man, I want to be treated as a woman,” Cantu said.
The panel members said that they struggle with breaking certain ideals surrounding the female role. Newman said that breaking societal structured thinking is one of the hardest things to do.
“For people who are unwilling to try, because they don’t see that they’re looking at things through an ideological lens, there’s really no incentive,” Newman said.
The female to male ratio of attendees at the event was about 2-to-1, however activism of males in the feminist movement is growing. Alec Petsche, SMU film and English major and FEM member said that while he was pleased with the turnout of both male and female attendees, he hopes to see more involvement on campus. Petsche said that male feminists don’t need to identify as anything more than that.
“The turnout was reassuring because I did not realize there was a diversity of feminism on campus,” Petsche said. “The way I’ve heard it is men don’t need a special place in feminism, they take their spot and make it feminist.”