GRL PWR ♀ How Griffith College helped me evolve my feminism

Vithoria Escobar

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Since I can remember, I have always felt bothered with those imposed patterns, expectations and stereotypes towards women. I never considered myself a “feminine girl”, I suppose, but I always felt the pressure of being one. I have always loved to wear a good comfy hoodie, jeans, comfy shoes, I have often been interest in things that were considered a “boy’s thing” and, on several occasions, I felt that I had my sexuality prejudged or even my feelings underestimated just by my appearance or for the way I am, which is ridiculous because girls should be free to do whatever they want without being judged. I believe that every girl or women, somehow, suffers with this pressure of what it is to be an “ideal woman” for society.

I could spent the whole day listing ridiculous opinions or statements that I or girls I know had to listen from acquaintances, friends and even family. But one in particular that I remember so clearly was on the day I decided to cut my hair short. I remember my friend (a boy) telling me that I looked like “a divorced woman” with short hair.
Like, seriously? That phrase is so absurd in so many ways that I don’t even know where to start it.

However, my first real contact with the feminist movement was around 2015, when I joined a secret group on Facebook with over 20 thousand girls. That group was the turning point for me, as a feminist. I started to see things that bothered me as something deeper, as something that needed to be changed, things that are in our world’s roots.

I got here in Dublin exactly a year ago and when I decided to do the Masters in Journalism/PR I didn’t expect to have such a strong contact with feminism since day one. I will never forget during the first Research Methods class, Robbie mentioned a research that analysed Irish magazine covers and how men were the vast majority that was exposed as being successful. I was so surprised, I think I never saw a teacher raising any feminist issues in class in my life.  Moreover, the course put me in a direct contact with feminism as during the Newsdays I had the opportunity to go to two amazing feminist events and talk with incredible woman.

Women’s march – Photo credit: Vithoria Escobar

The first one was the Feminist Film Festival, an independent festival run voluntarily that exhibits movies and documentaries produced exclusively by women. Every year the team has a different focus, but the last edition  highlighted films that captures the feminine voice with the purpose to make a decent vocal and verbal representation for in-scene and behind-the-scene women in the cinema industry. I interviewed Katie Stone and Aoife O’Toole,  who talked to me about under representation of women in the industry and the challenges of promoting the festival and its discussions as something that anyone can enjoy, not only women.

The other event was #FemFest, an event to discuss women’s importance in the past, today and in the future. The event was a series of workshops and dynamic panels with amazing women speaking about gender equality: Orla O’Connor, director of the National Women’s Council of Ireland, Dr Mary McAuliffe lecturer in Gender Studies at UCD, and the feminist activists Ailbhe Smyth, Brid Smith, Clara Rose and Jeanne Sutton. All these women shared their views and the importance of women empowerment.

#FemFest 2016 – Photo credit: Vithoria Escobar

These opportunities made me realize that real feminism is not only about sharing feminist posts on Facebook. It made me expand my vision of what is to be a feminist and how important it is to actually do something about feminism. It made me to talk to activists, to go to events, to read and learn, which was fantastic. It inspired me in so many ways that encouraged me to do my final dissertation approaching a feminist issue.

The Circular spoke to two lecturers, Robbie Smyth and Ronan Brady, about the importante of approaching feminism in class and how influences it in your career.

For millennia, society has treated men more favourably than women in terms of power and money.  Some men have benefitted hugely from this and they’ve even allowed a few women to join their exclusive club from time to time.  But humanity as a whole has suffered because undervaluing women squanders so much human ability. I think feminism gives women the confidence to take back what was always rightfully theirs – for the benefit of everybody” – Ronan Brady

In order to be a good journalist you have to understand society. If you ignore a bit of society you will never be a good media creator as you could be. And that’s the thing I was looking during the research of the magazine covers, I didn’t notice myself that I wasn’t looking at gender. So I started to looking and just after looking the data for I while I realized ‘Wow, women are appearing in a really narrow spectrum compared to men. And that was interesting cause it took me weeks to realize it“. – Robbie Smyth

Sometimes (even today) I got scared by realizing how the world is deep-rooted into chauvinism, how this is part of our society culture, in every single way I could ever imagine. I say to my friends that sometimes I wish I wasn’t that impacted because you just realize how the world and how people are so wrong in so many ways. And as a feminist, you have to keep facing the fact that things won’t simply change. You have to insist and insist and you get disappointed with friends and family all the time and sometimes you end up shying  away from people you love because you just can’t stand certain things anymore.

I believe that every thing in life has a “bad side”, but I have absolutely no regrets when it comes to becoming a feminist. I don’t mind being considered annoying or discussing with family and friends because the feminism was essential for me to become the woman I am today. I deconstruct values, I open my mind and the movement awoke in me new values as empathy and persistence.

Having such a important college as Griffith College talking about it and encouraging feminism creates a space where women and men can learn which always leads to a constructive discussion. I might wouldn’t become the feminist I am today if it wasn’t for this course and the opportunities it gave me and I am really thankful for that. 🙂

The articles and interviews produced on the events mentioned above are available here.

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Vithoria Escobar