feminismI’m almost there. After four years of blood, sweat, and tears, lots and lots of tears, I will finally receive my bachelor’s degree. Four years ago I moved from North Dakota to Minnesota to attend school. Where I came from, being called liberal was a border-line insult. At my college, if you are liberal you were celebrated. I found this out very quickly; in the first week I had listened to several speeches about how I wasn’t bound by my parent’s rules anymore, nor was I bound by any political affiliation they may have pressed on me or any religious stance. I’m all for people learning and making their own decisions but the wording of some of these speeches was a little strange.

At the end of my first week there was an activities fair. I found the College Republicans and an alternative, more conservative paper and joined them. Since then, because of who I was affiliated with, I have been called a range of insults and people have made some wild accusations about me. I learned that I am racist, anti-gay, and a misogynist. I am all these things because of what I wrote. It made me very terrified to introduce myself to people, and caused me a lot of stress. I was afraid professors would see my name and treat me terribly. Luckily for me, all my professors have been nothing but amazing and I am forever thankful for that. But the fact that I was terrified of these things still remained.

I started to have anxiety attacks whenever my writings would be published. I might not even agree with what I was writing about but I wrote it because it was a different point of view that was not being represented on campus. My goal whenever I wrote something was to create conversation on campus, pushing people to examine their beliefs and learn why they thought in a particular way. Over the years, not only was I trying to have others question their beliefs but I started questioning my own. I still consider myself a conservative but I no longer consider myself a Republican.

I also found that I am a feminist, just a conservative one. This was the biggest political struggle in my mind that I faced over the years. I was, and still am, very much pro-life. But I have noticed over the past four years my views for being pro-life have switched from the needs of the child to the needs of the woman and why she is considering an abortion. I believe in some amount of rape-culture and I no longer see the women that are pushing this subject as air heads but I still believe in defending myself and I am not afraid to use a gun or some other form of self-defense, even if it would be fatal to my attacker. There are people out there who, no matter how much you preach violence against women is wrong, are still going to attack women. It’s a sad reality of our world. “Teaching” men not to rape is okay, but we should not push aside the value of teaching women how to defend themselves.

What I’ve learned as my college years come to a close is that I can be a feminist and still have conservative values. There is nothing wrong with this concept. Hopefully other women on college campuses can come to this realization as well and women who hold certain conservative views will not be labeled racist or misogynist. They don’t have to conform to a particular mold of campus life and they should never have to fear their peers as I did. They should be allowed to speak their minds. Women who speak up for what they believe are true feminists and people who do not cause them to fear for their safety are true supporters of women.

About the author: Rachel Wingenbach

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