Photo by Vivian Giang.
“Feminism advocates equality and empowerment of all genders, and by extension supports the many different identities and backgrounds that people have.”
Melissa Young, a fourth-year student majoring in Arabic and International Development Studies, believes that being a feminist means you have to take apart your privileges to support people who don’t have them.
Although she’s always identified as a feminist, Melissa’s interest in feminism really blossomed when she came to UCLA and learned about the wage gap, reproductive health, and other issues that women face. She credits the LGBT Resource Center for introducing her to intersectionality, which has provided her with a more nuanced understanding of gender and language.
Now, Melissa is extremely passionate about “critically examining our speech and removing oppressive language from our vocabulary,” and tries to do that in her own work as a copy editor. She views language as something that can seem subtle but is extremely influential: “Language has power to perpetuate unfair power dynamics and marginalize people; it also has the power to affirm and empower.”
For the future, Melissa hopes that mainstream feminism, which has often been criticized for focusing on white, cisgender women, will become more inclusive and support all peoples who face oppression. But for herself, Melissa hopes to “stay my course and assert my equal right to take up space.”