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Dear Amy,

I am creating an art project that is entitled Awakening the Feminist (Inside You). A lot of people have a bad connotation in regards to the word feminist. Many people, especially girls, say that they are not feminists and yet they believe that women are people too, and should have equal rights. I am trying to find sources, books or Internet sites, that have personal stories of oppression and/or violence that women have experienced, but have not had very much luck. Many people think that there is no more need for the feminist movement, and I want to show that there is still more work to be done. I have found that people only look at what is in front of them and if they don't know it happened or it doesn't involve them directly, then it can1t have happened and have a who cares attitude. I want to show them that women are still being oppressed and that a we can all be feminists without being a feminazi if we that is not our choice. So if you could point me to the right direction for those stories, I would really appreciate it. Thank you for your time.



Dear Sheryl,

I visited Penn State Univ. early this year and they had a great program going on during my visit. Students created booths in the student center that were addressing any "feminist issue." Many focused on images of women in the media and reproductive health, but these booths were great visual aids to what feminism is. They could bring their friends and classmates to it, or they could find it themselves, and see feminism through these examples without necessarily using that word. I agree that the word can be a distraction -- this showed people feminism before they got sidetracked by their biases. I tell you this story as a way to say that I totally endorse what you are doing. If you look around Ask Amy--particularly in the legal section or violence against women -- you will see so many personal stories/testaments of why feminism is still relevant.

I personally keep using the example of domestic violence and later Sept. 11th. 10 years ago, feminists were the only ones focussed on domestic violence -- it was feminists who created shelters, who funded this movement (it wasn't until 1994 that the federal government first gave money to end violence against women). It was only after Nicole Brown Simpson was murdered that most Americans started to understand how pervasive this issue was/is -- then they responded by getting more involved -- so much so that now, domestic violence is seen as its own issue, not necessarily related to feminism. Before Sept. 11th --feminists were the only people paying attention to the Taliban's negative impact on women and how they were denying women and girls their basic human rights. Feminists were the only ones putting pressure on the U.S. government to intervene and stop this hostile reign. Not until Sept. 11th--until this impacted more than women and children --did people bother to pay attention.

To me this proves that what feminists focus on appears to only help women, but it really helps everyone and ignoring this feminist work means that we are probably overlooking important issues and feminist contributions to solving those issues. Another example I use is that of Ask Amy -- many of the people who visit me at Ask Amy come to me entirely by accident -- because there is no one else to help them. I see this a lot with custody cases as well as with job discrimination. I hope that you can find some of these stories at Ask Amy, as I think they will go a long way to pointing out the importance of feminim.



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