A Middle Schooler Learns That 'Feminist' Is a Bad Word

by Laurie Ulster
Originally Published: 

When she asked about it, she was told by school principal Kendra Young it had been digitally removed because some parents might have found the word offensive. So Sophie did what any teen in 2015 would do: she told her tale on social media. She and her friends started tweeting about it with the hashtags #KeepFeminismInSchools and #IDeserveFreedomOfExpression, and the word spread quickly, which led to media inquiries about the whole incident, and ultimately an apology from the principal.

While Sophie’s happy with the way her principal turned around, she doesn’t feel the same way about her school superintendent, who has offered up a number of different stories, none of which have turned out to be true. He insisted that they changed the photo because it was an unflattering shot of her, which doesn’t seem like something that could be solved by airbrushing the word ‘feminism’ off of her t-shirt, and that her parents had come in to discuss the matter ahead of time, which was also inaccurate.

But Sophie’s happy with what has unfolded since. Since her story vent viral, she’s become a spokesperson for the cause, giving an interview to MTV, talking to the Today Show, and appearing on The View. She’s also been working with her principal about how to educate the students (as well as the faculty, who seem to need it just as much) about what feminism is, what it isn’t, and why it shouldn’t be considered a hands-off topic.

She told the Today show, “People around here misconstrue the word. Like, ‘Oh, you’re a feminist so you hate men.’ I just want to spread equality, and a lot of people here don’t agree with me.”

People still think that? In 2015? She just taught me something, too.

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