By guest blogger Sophie Mashburn
No one said it was easy being a conservative woman, especially in college. Living in the post-feminist world I’m practically expected to be left wing. So when I say I’m conservative I’m immediately dubbed a brainwashed product of a patriarchal society that’s always been out to get me. When I’m not shouted or laughed at I receive a lot of condescension as if my conservatism is some sort of chronic disease that needs to be educated out of me. That’s the reality. What’s an even harder reality is that although I’m not alone, I’m definitely outnumbered. I discovered this recently upon founding a chapter of NeW.
I am proud to acknowledge that although it took about four months, I was able to make a place for conservative women on a liberal campus. The bureaucracy that each individual organization goes through when being founded is exhausting and bound to stretched out deadlines, trivial paperwork, pointless meetings, and a need to round up 10 like-minded people and a faculty member. This proved difficult you go to a state university with a journalism school known for producing the writers at some of the more liberal media outlets. There truly is not a huge pool of conservative women to choose from at Missouri University. I was also not able to find a conservative female faculty member to act as our advisor, though I was thrilled that the College Republicans advisor agreed to work with the NeW chapter. However, I had originally wanted to find a professor on this campus that sympathized with the plight of conservative women.
None of this is to demonize my university or to throw a pity party about the struggles I face living among the left. The point is, it takes time, dedication, and the ability to accept rejection or delay to start conservative groups on college campuses. Missouri University thankfully had no ideological biases against the group, but rather was just a slow bureaucracy. However, I know that’s not the case everywhere. Recognizing you are the minority, finding your allies, and never backing down are all a part of what it takes to be a conservative leader in a liberal world. College may not be real life, but for at least four years it’s the closest thing to it. Those four years will be full of marginalization unless you stand your ground. I can’t begin to count the number of women I’ve heard say “I agree with you but I prefer to keep quiet because liberals can get so mean and professors agree with them.” Those statements are why groups like NeW are necessary. Since conservative women are not the biggest demographic at most colleges, it’s easy to separate us and silence us. We don’t have to accept that. I hope that in the future more women at Missouri University and all over the country who share my views finally feel comfortable being open about them. If nothing else NeW can provide a forum where a conservative woman can find comfort in expressing how she may feel about traditional marriage, pro-life issues, or the vulgarity of the Vagina Monologues without feeling like she’s on trial or about to hear the cliché rant of being a sex traitor. The solidarity she finds there will prepare her and strengthen her to face what may lay ahead in class discussions, lectures, and campus events that address controversial issues, and even after college in the professional world.
We as conservative women do not need to reclaim feminism or the embrace the worldview that our liberal counterparts advocate. We do, however, need to be vocal about our views, and make clear that we are proud of our femininity, our traditions, and don’t need to subscribe to Betty Freidan-logic to be valuable and intelligent members of our campus community.
Sophie Mashburn founded the NeW chapter at Missouri University at Columbia.