Feminism can have many different meanings, but the true definition remains the same: equality for both sexes. For some people, feminism plays a large part in their everyday life.
“The beauty of it is it can be whatever the person wants it to be for them,” said Lynita Newswander, a political science professor. “As long as you believe in equality for women and equal rights for women, that’s it. You’re a feminist. Congratulations and welcome to the club.”
According to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, “sometimes (feminism) refers to efforts to ensure basic human rights and basic fairness for women, as well as efforts to encourage women to obtain an education, develop their talents and serve humankind in any field they choose. Latter-day Saints support these things.”
The Church supports women having equal rights and equal opportunity to grow and learn through higher education. They also specifically condemn certain extreme behaviors including machismo, male chauvinism and sexism.
“For me, being a feminist member of the church doesn’t create any conflict because the church teaches me that as a woman, I have a divine role to fill and that God is a Mother and a Father in heaven,” Newswander said.
Newswander continues on about how she feels like the doctrine is supporting her as she pursues her goals. She knows she’s been given talents to share with others and working while she has children hasn’t stopped her from accomplishing those goals and growing those talents.
A large reason why Newswander believes feminism has a place with members of the Church is because of personal revelation.
She states that neither male nor female members of the Church need mediators between them and God. Women have access to personal revelation whether they are married or not.
“Part of what feminism means to me is that my daughter and the women around me have the ability to do all the things they want to do, that part of it has always been with me,” Newswander said.
Newswander brought up the missionary age change for women; she believes this will result in the next wave of leadership within the Church. These young women are given many leadership opportunities and go home with a stronger testimony, they’re smarter and can live and think on their own.
Kennedy Kozak, a freshman studying English, discussed the #MeToo movement and shared how it has affected how he looks at certain jokes, such as rape jokes. This is part of why it baffles him that some individuals either don’t believe in feminism or think you can’t be both faithful and a feminist.
Kozak says he often calls out his friends when they make inappropriate jokes that revolve around demeaning or harming women. For him, this is a large part of why he believes everyone should be a feminist.
“Rape jokes are just the norm and I don’t understand why that’s okay,” Kozak said.
Mary Jo Huntsman, a member of the BYU-Idaho Women’s Advisory Council, shares that the organization works to put all the resources available in one place. This makes it easy to find and even easier to steer women in the right direction. She wants students and faculty to know there are resources available to them.
One concern previously addressed is adding more mothers’ rooms to campus. This helps the moms who are attending school by providing a place to breastfeed and pump.
“Our purpose is to find out what the needs are and then pass it on,” Huntsman said.
An important part of what they do is take concerns from women and help to address them. These issues could be with a male on campus, Honor Code violation, feeling threatened and many more. On the website homepage, at the bottom, is a button labeled “Report a Concern.” From there a student can anonymously report whatever they are experiencing.
“So, depending on how you look at it, the gospel really strongly supports a feminist worldview,” Newswander said.