Tuesday, November 21

Student groups to hold events discussing feminist ideals


Two student groups are hosting events this week to discuss different views on feminism.

Bruin Republicans will host “Feminism is Cancer,” with conservative journalist Milo Yiannopoulos on Tuesday. In response, the Bruin Consent Coalition will host “Feminism is Cool” on Thursday.

Bruin Republicans invited Yiannopoulos because he is a leading voice against third-wave feminism, said Haley Nieves, external vice president of Bruin Republicans and a second-year political science and international development studies student. At the event, Yiannopoulos will give a speech about his views on feminism, after which students will be able to ask questions.

Nieves said Yiannopoulos supports first and second-wave feminism because the movements gave women equal access to higher education, suffrage and the right to work outside the home. However, she said Yiannopoulos believes third-wave feminism is no longer necessary in the West.

Nieves said “Feminism is Cancer” aims to offer a critique on third-wave feminist topics, such as the gender wage gap and rape culture on college campuses.

Nieves said she thinks many of the claims by third-wave feminists are founded on unreliable research.

For example, she said she thinks a study that found one in four women are sexually assaulted in college included women who were not representative of the college campus demographic.

“There are no more battles left to fight in America,” Nieves said. “In America, women are potentially the most privileged and liberated group in the history of humankind.”

She said she thinks feminists on college campuses are overly concerned with insignificant issues.

“(Third-wave feminists) are consumed with over-sensationalization of smallest issues like microaggression with a rage of hysteria and passion that surpasses that of women who were fighting for suffrage rights,” Nieves said.

BCC co-director Chloe Pan said she thinks the title, “Feminism is Cancer,” is radical and inflammatory toward one side of the debate, which would prevent people from expressing opposing views.

In response, students at the “Feminism is Cool” event will discuss Yiannopoulos’ speech and feature five-minute student presentations about different issues associated with feminism, such as the experiences of women of color, transphobia and Islamophobia the second-year international development studies and Asian-American studies student said. After presentations, the discussion will open to all students.

Pan said she and other BCC members support third-wave feminism because though some gender equality issues, like women’s suffrage, are solved, women still face inequality. She added she thinks third-wave feminism allows people to address women’s equality in relation to other social justice issues like racism and transphobia.

“Your experience as a woman of color, dealing with racism and sexism, are experiences that are meshed together,” Pan said. “Oppressions (for women of color) are all linked.”

For example, Pan said she thinks people should consider how factors like race, nationality and socioeconomic classes affect wages for underrepresented women.

Pan said she is also organizing a silent protest against the Bruin Republicans event. Protesters, who will have duct tape over their mouths, will hold signs with UCLA Counseling and Psychological Services’ phone numbers and phrases like “advocating for equality is not a tumor.” Pan declined to give information about the protest time and location for safety reasons.

“The duct tape challenges people to think about the narratives of sexual assault victims that you are silencing when you are using your First Amendment right to make disrespectful and immature comments like ‘rape culture is a myth,’” Pan said.

Nieves said she thinks the “Feminism is Cool” event can become a space for people to complain about opinions they feel uncomfortable with.

“The very premise of a university education is that we do not need to coddle students or protect them from positions that can make them feel unsafe or excluded,” Nieves said.

Mairead Swyney, a third-year molecular, cell and developmental biology student, said she thinks the titles of the two events present an unnecessary dichotomy of feminism. She added she would like to see more recognition of people whose opinions are in the middle ground.

Swyney added she thinks because gender equality is a heated topic, it can lead to polarized views.

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  • Todd Lu

    I think a big problem is that most people have a preconceived view of feminism without making an effort to understand feminist literature. Feminism is complicated and has a pretty large theoretical history to it.

    My fear of the “Feminism is Cancer” event is that it’ll be used as a platform to misrepresent “third-wave feminism” and discredit/deny the existence of real social issues that women face (i.e. reproductive rights, college sexual assault) instead of being a genuine discussion topic on differentiating the types of feminism and proposing the type of feminism that you think is relevant, which is a reasonable discussion to have. But to make a statement like:

    ““There are no more battles left to fight in America,” Nieves said. “In America, women are potentially the most privileged and liberated group in the history of humankind.””

    is really telling that the purpose of the “Feminism is Cancer” event merely intends to discredit any effort made by anyone to really have a frank discussion on feminism. It’s a knee-jerk reaction to a perception of feminism instead of an intellectual conversation and definition about the topic. To me, the quote:

    ““(Third-wave feminists) are consumed with over-sensationalization of smallest issues like microaggression with a rage of hysteria and passion that surpasses that of women who were fighting for suffrage rights,” Nieves said.”

    lends evidence to my point that the “Feminism is Cancer” event is just a knee-jerk reaction. Does this characterization tell us more about what third-wave feminism actually represents or does it serve to demonize third-wave feminism?

    It is not accurate to characterize “third-wave” feminism as some monolithic theory only dealing with microaggressions and campus rape when third-wave feminism represents a wide variety of conflicting thoughts and tendencies, a definition of which is pretty difficult and a subject of academic debate. To some extent, it is a reaction to perception that second wave feminism failed incorporating intersectionality (i.e. people assume many different identities through race, nationality, religion, gender, etc. that culminate in a unique set of experiences), although to be fair many segments of second-wave feminism did recognize this already. To some extent, third wave feminism is a reaction to the mass media/advertising/technology that second-wave feminism didn’t encounter. To some extent, some third-wave feminists (again, not all because third-wave feminism is made up of a lot of different ideas/ppl) present a caricature of second-wave feminism as anti-sex and anti-marriage to redefine their own feminism that accepts sex ought to be pleasurable for women, beauty, etc.

    My point is that I highly doubt Milo Yiannopoulos and “feminism is cancer” event are interested in acknowledging the complexities of feminism, and instead are going to present methodological flaws (which are important to address, but a very weak set of evidence to argue against a point of view) and straw-mans of third-wave and second-wave feminism in such a way as to redefine what constitutes as the “correct” form of feminism and the “incorrect” form of feminism, going so far as to state feminism is irrelevant, without a genuine effort at looking at feminist literature.

    (If you are interested in learning about Third wave feminism vs. Second wave feminism, look here: http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.1086/588436)