Some Unapologetically Feminist Tips For Your First Year Away at College
I write about my luck a lot, and I try to slip in the privilege of my family into any conversation I have about the lack of privilege revolved around my sexual orientation/gender/skin color. My parents raised me to be a feminist. They raised my brothers to be feminists. When I was young, I thought the colloquialism was "Oh my Goddess" instead of "Oh My God" and my father told me he attempted to "raise me as a feminist with a little bit of bitch in me." He also said he met his goal. So when I went off to college, I was nervous, lacking confidence, sad and scared, but I knew how each of those different emotions were deeply embedded in the patriarchy and how I could/would bounce back around them. I didn't know, however, how important feminism would become as a staple in my life as I grew for four years at University.
So here are some tips for college to beat the patriarchy, kick ass, but still have some fun:
Lean on the women around you When I lived with my parents, I didn't have to put on a show when I watched TV or pretend to be smarter or prettier or someone better than who I was, I could just be myself. You need those people in college too, whether you're living with friends or a random roommate. I spent plenty of time sobbing into the gross futon of my best friend's dorm room; when I missed a final, when I got too drunk and embarrassed myself, when I fell in and out of love, when I was painfully homesick. Leaning on Dani and Rachel and the rest of my girlfriends throughout my college experience gave me respite from the rest of the world. Don't be afraid to use them, and be there for them when they need it too. Women need a place to be vulnerable without worrying about the potential consequences of breaking a societal norm. Create that space within your friendships with your girls.
Protect your sisters When I was at a fraternity party my freshman year of college, I saw a guy leading a stumbling girl up the stairs as I walked out of the bathroom. I asked if she was okay and she mumbled a response. I asked if she wanted to go home and she said yes, and I pulled her away from the (obviously upset) guy and my friends and I took her back to her dorm and made sure she got in safely. I never saw her again, but I am positive that girls have helped me before like we did to her. I owe my life to the women I do not know who put my life ahead of their pursuit of fun. Look out for your fellow girls, and they'll look out for you.
Join a college publication Every college has some sort of publication. Join your college paper, magazine, radio station, yearbook, whatever - you won't regret it. You'll learn what's going on around campus, become involved in campus life without having to awkwardly show up to events alone, and you'll meet interesting, diverse people with stories you don't want to miss. For me, I made a couple life long friends who continue to keep me on track as a journalist and feminist.
Join your feminist club - it's time to be a SoJo. This is the time in your life when you can be an "angry feminist" and also be surrounded by other "angry feminists." It's the time when you can be radical, and take encouraging steps to change the world around you. I didn't join my schools SPEAC or FORCE clubs, but I really wish I did.
Get a female mentor There is nothing wrong with surrounding yourself with feminist men who take you on as their mentee. Many of my best mentors have been men -- my multimedia professor who took me under his wing and told me I was smart enough to pursue more difficult projects or my editor at FiveThirtyEight who, after President Trump won the election, reminded me that there is always space for a queer Latinx woman in political journalism. But there is something about having female mentors that gives your more strength. They see themselves in you in a very real way, they've gone through sexist shit and know what kind of advice to give you, and they're more than allies. They're with you, because they've been through it. So introduce yourself to all of your professors, but don't miss the office hours held by women. Write down their advice. Listen to it, and go back for more.
I loved college. We started Bottle while I was there, I actively grew into myself politically, emotionally and intellectually. And now that I'm not there anymore, I really miss it. Take it in.
Christianna is an adventurous, optimistic feminist who can hold her own in a few topics: politics, music, baking and books. At a party, you can find her consoling the hostess’s pets and sipping a gin and tonic.