In sexuality, feminists find issues worth fighting for

In sexuality, feminists find issues worth fighting for

For Blaire Gansman, the world is full of role models to live up to.

The junior communications major said she draws experience from the images that surround her.

“I definitely consider myself a strong person,” she said. “I’m motivated, and I know what I want. I feel that in the media today there aren’t as many weak women as there once were. On TV and in movies, women are assertive, and that’s reflected in society.”

She said she lives in a society where women are constantly being objectified all around her, but she doesn’t necessarily feel like that enters into her dating life.

“[In dealing with men], I don’t think I’ll have to live up to any particular image, because it’s fictional,” she said. “Real women don’t look like that.”

While some women may be comforted because they are no longer forced to live up to certain standards, the old cries of feminism carry into a modern age some feminists say is full of objectification.

Tara Doran, a middler sociology major and member of the Feminist Student Organization, said many of the causes behind women’s equality are still worth fighting for.

“People think that feminists are these scary, man-hating people, and that it’s radical,” she said. “[Feminism is] not really radical, it’s very simple.”

She said she continuously sees women walking down the street being harassed, who do nothing to fight back.

“It makes me mad that I can’t feel safe to just walk alone,” she said. “When people say feminism isn’t necessary anymore, that’s the example I’ll give of why we do need it.”

Winifred Breines, a sociology professor, said traditional notions of the domineering male figure and the submissive female are still present.

“Things haven’t changed that much,” she said in an e-mail.

Recent studies support her position that these gender roles haven’t left society.

A study of women at Yale University that recently appeared in the New York Times showed 60 percent of women would prefer to remain at home as housewives instead pursuing another career.

Aubrey Perry, a first-year student at the Northeastern School of Law, said, for her, feminism has a stigma attached to it.

“I’m kind of against the concept of feminism mainly because I feel you are treated in a way that you allow people to treat you,” Perry said. “Subjugation of women is something women create themselves.”

But Doran said that she realized the objectification present all over society after watching the documentary “Killing Us Softly.”

The film analyzes a number of advertisements in which women are put in positions making them look submissive.

She said the ads reinforce that women are “sexy” when put in certain positions.

“I don’t think we’re really conscious of it,” she said of the ads. “After seeing the documentary, I always notice them whenever I look through things.”

Breines warned against seeing feminist causes through one lens. She said that perceptions of what is desirable is often dependent on ethnicity and class.

But in dating situations, some Northeastern students said gender roles are more evident.

That’s where the old concepts of feminism – double standards and strict gender roles – come out.

Junior business major Emily Rodrigues said there is a glaring double standard in contemporary society.

While women are seen as being overemotional, she said “men are seen as being strong when they assert themselves.”

For some men, images of femininity filtered through outlets like the film’s ads were not as effective as advertisers may have hoped.

“I’m sure that confidence in women might intimidate some guys, but not me,” said Brian Vaeni, a junior political science major.

Middler journalism major Greg Whitney said he accepts that gender expectations exist but does not follow them.

“Even though from a young age people are taught to view others equally, some people are still under the assumption that girls have to act a certain way,” Whitney said. “They’re the ones who will be most intimidated.”

Some students said they see a correlation between women rising to powerful positions in society and in the power element of personal relationships.

Sophomore marketing major Lan Nguyen said the struggle some women professional life goes hand-in-hand with in personal lives.

“Strong women are independent; they know what they want, and that’s admirable,” she said. “You need to take a stand if you want to achieve anything in life.”

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