Anonymous said: hi! barnard is my dream school and i would love to go there. however, im not feminist at all, and i have heard that barnard women in general have a strong sense of feminism. will i be left out or not a good fit if im not a big and outspoken advocate of feminism?
hmm. well. I guess I kind of wonder what you mean or what you’re picturing when you say feminist. i think most Barnard and Columbia students would agree with and support the basic, superficial goals of feminism (the “women should be treated equally to men” level of feminism). Most Barnard students would probably identify as feminists (with various definitions of the word and various opinions and experiences under it); for some that’s a casual statement, for some it’s an activist or academic calling.
I think you would certainly hear more about feminism at Barnard than you might at another school. But, you know, Barnard is a women’s college in a time when most people think that’s an anachronism; the basic tenet of Barnard and other women’s colleges today is that women succeed when they’re surrounded and supported by other women and that this continues to be necessary because women are still disadvantaged by the way our society is structured. This is also a big part of feminism and I view women’s colleges today as essentially feminist institutions (though I am only familiar with women’s colleges in the Northeast US, which are also predominantly liberal, white, and rich - maybe the culture is different in other parts of the country and with other demographics.)
If you saw my posts about Columbia guys last night, what I was trying to get at was this: if you do not want an education focused on women, advancing women, supporting women, where you spend a lot of time with only women, you should not go to Barnard. If you do want that, then I think you will be fine as a non-feminist if you’re prepared to have your views challenged (and to challenge other people’s views!)
Barnard is more open-minded about this than some comparable institutions, I believe, and Barnard women have a lot of reasons for attending Barnard beyond just an all-women education, but it is still a women’s college.
i have more specific thoughts about Barnard’s brand of feminism (which I have issues with as a feminist myself) but i don’t want to overcomplicate this. if you want more info, though, let me know - it might help if you go off anon, give me more specifics about your concerns, and I will reply privately!