Feminism is not a joke

It’s no longer funny to joke about feminism.

Throughout our time at the Upper School, the Class of 2017 has seen a plethora of Facebook wars that have prompted huge controversies on campus for a maximum of a week and then disappear until they can be used conveniently in a joke.

The arguments always end the same way: the vibrant minority becomes the dominating voice, and the active minds that prompted the conversation are silenced and mocked.
These innocent, “playful” Facebook conversations have reached a level of offensiveness that is impossible to ignore.

We have reached an intense degree of peer demeaning and silencing that is frightening for the future of this community.

We are nearly adults. Almost a third of the students on campus will be living alone in mere months. It’s time to take responsibility for our actions and our words.

Harvard-Westlake prides itself on being an intelligent and progressive community that encourages open communication about controversial topics largely avoided by society, but the recent debates about the implemented dress code reveal that students may not be caught up to this level of maturity.

We have displayed time and time again that we struggle with sensitive topics, most consistently the topic of feminism.

The silencing of feminism is a global pattern that often seems impossible to break.
We at Harvard-Westlake have the opportunity to be different, to set the model—as we so often do—for others to follow.

We are an incredibly forward-thinking institution. We consistently set and break standards for high schools with our arts, athletics, academics and other programs.

It’s time we step up in our communication and our treatment of feminism. There is by no means a lack of active women in our community. We see women stepping up and speaking their minds daily.

This willingness to step up is most likely why the strong women in our grade receive so much pushback: they put themselves out there in a manner most aren’t comfortable with.

This boldness is something to celebrate and is all too often met with mocking, belittling and aggressive silencing responses. Mocking an issue that someone values and is passionate about is an extremely offensive action and is never the way to have productive conversation.
A joke about a topic as sensitive as feminism is never simply a joke. There is always a hidden message of invalidation, an indication that feminism is something to laugh at. And while everyone may have different opinions when it comes to feminism, it is unfair to disregard the movement as insignificant.

If we are going to discuss issues like feminism, everyone’s voice must be heard.Everyone’s opinions should be met with respect, no matter how popular or unpopular the opinion may be.
I don’t think that feminists’ voices should be heard just because I am a feminist; having an opinion acknowledged has nothing to do with others’ ability to speak their minds or their points of view. People should heard because everyone has a valid opinion.

Everyone deserves the space to speak openly and to be met with respect, and frankly, it feels as though the women on this campus are constantly being met with little to no respect.
It’s not funny to joke about feminism. It’s not funny to mock active feminists.

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