Who Needs Feminism: Students post photos online to pledge feminism

Rachel Jacob, Student Association vice president-elect

By Alexander Chettiath

Students can participate in NIU’s Who Needs Feminism Campaign by posting a picture of themselves on the campaign’s Facebook page with a sign or a statement about why the feminist movement is important to them.

The goal of NIU’s Who Needs Feminism Campaign, which is held by United by Diversity, is to challenge existing stereotypes surrounding feminists and assert the importance of feminism today while decreasing negative associations with the word “feminism” that would keep anyone from identifying with the movement. The campaign will continue through April.

“There aren’t necessarily specific [stereotypes] but more of the negative [stereotypes] like people that believe in feminism think that women have to be powerful and can’t be nurturing or women who are feminists hate men or guys that are feminists are gay,” said Julia Metz, program coordinator for United by Diversity. “Just little things like [that] are misleading.”

United by Diversity encourages individuals to value identity, promote awareness and aim to unite diverse groups of people through fellowship, according to its page on Huskie Link.

The campaign at NIU was started by Metz in 2015 and this year was taken on by United by Diversity. Metz said last year about 35 people participated through the whole month and this year about 30 people have already participated.

The campaign will be having tabling events in the upcoming week and will reach out to more student organizations and campus departments, Metz said.

Martha Zuniga, junior community leadership and civic engagement major, said the Who Needs Feminism campaign has made her more socially, politically and globally aware and has influenced her to pursue further education in gender studies.

“I think a lot of places don’t take [sexism] seriously, at all,” Zuniga said. “… It’s 2016 and we are still talking about feminism when we shouldn’t even need to talk about it. It should already be resolved. It is an injustice [when] women don’t get treated equally, in any way or form.”

The photos do not have to be strictly about women’s rights but can encompass LGBTQ issues and gender roles, according to the campaign’s Facebook page.

“[Participants can] basically just say their truth,” Metz said. “Everyone has their reasons, some people feel like they need feminism because gender shouldn’t be so restricted to two little boxes. Other people feel like they might need feminism because it teaches them about consent.”

Metz said she feels NIU does not do enough to combat sexism and could put forth more policies and educate students better on sexual assault.

“I know there was [an NIU safety bulletin] on sexual assault and it said [to] walk with a buddy, be careful what you are drinking, things like that which still place blame on victims of sexual assault or possible victims of sexual assault,” Metz said.