Women challenged to explore feminism

by Bridgette Davis

Simpson has given a great deal of lip service to Black History Month and the role of diversity on our campus this month. However, when it came time for the Carver Lecture on Monday night in Smith Chapel, many campus community members were nowhere to be found.

The irony of the situation: Dr. Houston A. Baker, professor of English at Duke University and prominent black-studies scholar, spoke about neo-conservatism. That’s right, neo-conservatism. For all of you who don’t know what neo-conservatism is, I am referring to a way of looking at the world that probably is strikingly similar to your own.

For all of you who do, didn’t Baker complete an amazingly complex and interesting speech with a great amount of wit?

Many Simpson students missed out on the one lecture this year that they may need to hear more than any other. Baker, through a deep deconstruction of the texts of two prominent African American neo-conservatives, identified the rhetorical tricks implicit in the words of those who have accepted the advantages of Affirmative Action, but support its dismantling.

While this may seem irrelevant to most Simpson students who are not of an ethnic minority status, Baker was quick to remind listeners that the female population gained the most victories due to Affirmative Action. On this note, Baker’s speech applied to a greater common problem within minority groups of any kind.

Successful African American neo-conservatives have done great damage by rejecting the social and political relief that allows their people (and themselves) to gain equality.

However, as we move into Women’s History Month, I’d like to draw attention to women who seem to me to be more guilty of this offense than any other minority group.

Just ask any Simpson professor who has stood before a classroom full of women and asked any feminists to raise their hands. Even in a classroom dominated by females, only a couple students will have identified themselves as feminists.

This is neo-conservatism at its best, or should I say worst.

These are not females playing traditional roles within their families or society. These women are gaining an education, selecting their own clothing, applying for jobs in the corporate world and utilizing their choice to use, or not use, contraception.

Yet these same women are either too afraid to identify themselves as feminists or too self-centered and unappreciative to support the cause that gave them the rights that they utilize without any question to their origin.

Women and minorities who reject the advancements of their peers do more damage to progressive social change than any other entity. This neo-conservatism lens is both hypocritical and irresponsible.

I challenge all of the women at Simpson to re-evaluate their views on feminism. Read a couple of books or essays, check out reliable Web sites on feminism, attend the Women’s History Month lectures on campus, and see “The Vagina Monologues” this weekend.

Women, we are taking our rights for granted at a time when they could realistically disappear.

Becoming part of the neo-conservative status quo may seem like the easiest ride to the top, but do you really want to be the subject slammed in lectures across the country?