& opinion


Feminism is not just a women’s word. There is a great taboo surrounding this word, and one which must be destroyed. To be a feminist does not mean you have to have hairy armpits and not wear a bra. You do not even have to be a woman. To be a feminist means to demand both equal rights and a move away from the roles society has imprisoned us in. And this affects men as well. Both men and women are subject to the scrutiny of a society demanding certain things of people, dependent on whether they are born male or female. However, there is Women’s Campaign on campus and not a ‘Man’s’ campaign or ‘gender’ campaign as women in particular have suffered the most by being marginalized by society. So Feminism is everyone’s problem.

How can this taboo be overcome? Firstly, by acknowledging that equal rights are not a thing of the past because we campaigned for them once. Equal rights do not exist; society has been built and written by men for men. Everything from academic institutions to the medical world has been built on values attributed to males. How can a woman fit into this? What about the roles society has forced onto us - where do these leave equal rights? Men and women do not have equal rights to emotions and feelings, to expressions of love, or anger, or simply frustration. I must express my feelings the way society tells me I should, and if don’t, it makes me a man.

Secondly, it needs men and women alike to embrace this campaign. Only when both sexes are not scared to admit there is a use for the word feminism will people feel confident to stand up and call themselves feminists. This cycle of embarrassment must be broken in order to liberate the world from negative stereotypes attached to it. And that means all of us standing out and calling ourselves feminists. The responsibility lies with us.

Thirdly, it needs an active campaign to bring these issues to the forefront, and this is also where all of us can contribute. There is now an active Women’s Group on campus and it needs as many people as possible to help get new ideas off the ground. We are meeting once a week; we’re currently trying to establish the best time for this to take place but if you want to be updated we can let you know by email. The Women’s Room in Falmer House is in the process of being done up so it can become an actively used space again, with a working library.

Week 9 of this term is Diversity Week which provides an opportunity for all the different liberation groups on campus to have a forum to express themselves. This also coincides with National Women’s Day, which is on March 8th, and we are hoping to put on a poetry and performance night in The Meeting House, with the aim providing a place for women to perform in a non-male dominated space There is also an idea to put on a club night at the beginning of term three which will provide an opportunity for women to be active in the clubbing scene, a particularly male public sphere.

Lastly, we are arranging different speakers and self-education forums learn about the different aspects feminism and gender issues. It seems more crucial now than ever to have an active women’s campaign on our campus. Unfortunately, women’s bodies are violated continuously as the recent attack on campus has shown. We are working with the union to ensure adequate security and are hoping arrange self defence for poeple who would like to participate.

However, all of these ideas can only come into fruition if enough people get involved and recognize the importance of this campaign; nothing wil change unless we all take responsibility in changing it. If you are interested please e-mail sussexwomen@hotmail com and we’ll add you to the emai list. Come to our meetings, they are open to everyone - women and men, they are not about hating men power-crazed women, they are simply about demanding a non gendered space for everyone alike.