Katies on feminism

Lucy Van Pelt representing St. Kate's mission to teach Katies to learn, serve, excel, lead and influence.

Lucy Van Pelt representing St. Kate’s mission to teach Katies to learn, serve, excel, lead and influence.

Feminism is a controversial topic that can be viewed in many different ways. Since St. Kate’s is an all-women’s college, it is often assumed that it is a feminist school and that the students are feminists. However, there are a lot of people who do not define themselves as a feminist, either because of personal views or because of the stigma that comes with the word.

Students at St. Kate’s gave their thoughts about this subject. Three random, current St. Kate’s students were interviewed about their opinions on feminism and whether or not they considered themselves feminists. I interviewed Lily Heltzer-Stiles ’17, Erin Leu, a first-year student in the Library Science program grad program and Bridget Geraghty ’16.

“Feminism means a lot to me; it means respecting and studying the history of those who came before [us] and devoted their lives to promoting women’s rights and gender equality, and it means striving in my life to educate myself and work with others to help create a better future for generations to come,” said Heltzer-Stiles ’17. “I wouldn’t necessarily describe St. Kate’s as a feminist college since it’s not like every student or faculty member of St. Kate’s identifies themselves as a feminist. However, one unique and beautiful aspect of a St. Kate’s education is that St. Kate’s encourages students to be knowledgeable about what feminism means.”

“I was nervous to call myself a feminist before attending St. Kate’s because I didn’t have a very clear understanding of what feminism meant and believed several of the negative views on feminists that are prevalent throughout mainstream culture and the media. When I began attending St. Kate’s, being surrounded on campus by a community of women not ashamed to express their beliefs, and taking classes that celebrated women’s achievements and presented their perspectives in a way I’d never experienced before, taught me that there is nothing shameful about striving for equality for all genders,” Heltzer-Stiles continued.

Leu had a similar opinion; however, she would describe St. Kate’s as a feminist college. “Feminism to me means that women should be able to have the choices and opportunities that are extended to men and have an equal chance at getting them,” said Leu. “I would consider St. Kate’s a feminist college because they do everything possible to give women these choices.”

Geraghty, a fourth-year English and History major, considers herself a feminist because she believes that women are equal to men and that they deserve to be treated as such. “The basic definition for me of feminism is the cause of fighting for the rights of women (ALL women: women of color, transwomen, white women; everyone) and for equality and equity between the genders. Feminism is incredibly difficult to define because it is such a complicated concept that has been stigmatized and slandered for decades.”

“I would say that St. Kate’s is a feminist college, although many people I think would hesitate at labeling it as such. St. Kate’s educates women and prepares them to interact on a higher intellectual level with the rest of society, resulting in strong women who are bound to succeed. Furthermore, St. Kate’s teaches women of their own value and strength when society often cuts them down and tells them that they are worth less than men,” Geraghty added.

Whether or not current Katies consider St. Kate’s a feminist school, one thing the interviewees all had in common is that they consider the university a place where women are encouraged to thrive, make an impact in the world and question the way society works. In addition, they believe that St. Kate’s is a place that challenges them and prepares them for life after college.

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