I was halfway through my college career when I decided I needed a minor to go with my English major. It wasn’t a requirement, but since I had been so inundated in literature and creative writing classes, I was ready for something else.
I had considered Art History, but after two classes, I realized my ability to remember anything outside of the most well-known artists throughout history was difficult. I can blame my excessive marijuana use for that. Next, I thought I’d try my hand at studio art as a minor, but when I realized that I didn’t have the ability to create the next David, I threw out that idea, too.
Finally, I decided to go with Women’s Studies. As a writer, I knew it would coincide nicely with my English major, it was definitely something in which I was interested, and I had heard great things about the professors in the department. So, that’s what I went with, and I was stoked.
I was a few classes into what I hoped to eventually declare as my minor, when I hit not just a bump in the road, but full-on roadblock.
For some reason, I was able to get into a few upper level Women’s Studies classes without having to take the introductory pre-requisite. But once the glitch was realized, I was forced to take the 101 course before I could proceed with what I hoped to be my minor. I was annoyed, but “rules is rules,” as they say, and I found myself in an entry-level class.
From the start, the professor didn’t seem to care for me. I wasn’t sure what I had done, but when I contributed to the conversation – which I did less and less thanks to her attitude – she would shoot down whatever I said. I could have told the class the sky was blue, but because it was I who said it, she would have argued that it was another color entirely. I was disenchanted to say the least.
So, when she told me toward the end of the semester that I was anti-feminist, I shouldn’t have been too surprised.
It was after I had submitted my final paper that the professor called me to her office. I didn’t find this to be strange, because as an English major we were constantly having one-on-one meetings with our professors. She asked me to sit down and proceeded to tell me how awful my final paper was.
We were given free-reign to choose our topic, and I had decided to tackle the fact that sometimes women accuse men of sexual harassment as a means of revenge, or to get what they want. I cited specific cases, one of which that hit home with me where a beloved teacher at my high school had been accused of coming on to two female students, only to have the two students take back their accusations and admit that they were angry for the grade that he had given them.
However, I was wrong — as she told me. My paper, according to the professor, was radical, uneducated, offensive, full of proof that women are never taken seriously and are often coerced into retracting their claims of harassment and abuse. And for me to think for one moment that a woman would ever lie about such a thing made me anti-feminist. Also, I should “be ashamed of myself.”
What the fucking fuck?
At the time I was angry, and too stunned to respond as eloquently as I would have liked. I was a sheltered 21-year-old attending an equally sheltered university in New Hampshire, and although I knew that my paper had proved my point, I lacked the backbone that I have now to stand up for myself. Instead, I cried right then and there, shoved my D- paper in my bag and ran to the bathroom to cry some more. I never took a Women’s Studies class again.
What happened in the professor’s office that day always bothered me. Admittedly, I do hang on to things longer than I should and, yes, I let things affect me deeper than what would be deemed reasonably sane, but this particular moment in my college career has yet to stop upsetting me when I think about it.
Now, a decade later, I can finally put into words what I would have loved to have said to that professor all those years ago: I was not wrong; she was wrong.
I believe that in being a feminist you need to accept that the female gender is not perfect – nor is the male gender, for that matter. Actually, and this may be shocking to some of you, human beings are not perfect.
People lie, people hate, people take advantage of situations, other people and even the kindness of those around them. People are conniving, manipulative and downright awful! Human beings are capable of some fucking horrific acts, and just five minutes with your eyes glued to CNN will prove this to be fact.
Of course, this doesn’t hold true for every human being, or even for the majority, but it does exist. Both men and women can be deceitful jerks, you guys. And if we’re just to assume that whenever a case arises that the woman in the scenario is completely and totally innocent every single time, we’re not only insulting our gender and our species, but feminism, too. To think that women are exempt from lying and corruption is not only ignorant, but practically anti-feminist in itself because it’s such a disservice to the cause. If we don’t accept that our gender is capable of lies and fuck-ups, and we believe that’s only the shit that men do, then we’re so wrong; we should be ashamed of ourselves.
I’m not sure if that Women’s Studies professor is still at the University of New Hampshire, or if I was the only one to be labeled anti-feminist by her, but I like to hope that since then she’s broadened her thinking. I understand that she’s teaching at a state university in a podunk town, but although that may be the case, she should at least take into account that most of us will leave the sanctity of UNH behind, and to not prepare us for the real world outside the safe walls of academia is irresponsible on her part.
I know I’m not anti-feminist. It may have taken me a long time to get to the point where I can call myself a feminist, but I’m here now. And with 10+ years of life experience since college graduation, I can say with confidence, that maybe Professor [name redacted] is the one who needs to re-evaluate her own inner feminist.