About a year and a half ago, I was passionately embroiled in being an intern and co-founder for a social organization on my college campus. I had wonderful, integrative ideas for campaigns and was making time to plan and actively be a part of the organization.
Somewhere between then and now, I’ve had a change of heart. While I still stand by the mission statement of the organization, I’ve found myself questioning the statistical information presented and the portrayal of the issues on social media and in campaigns. It might be my exposure to 3rd and 4th wave feminism articles and memes in social media, it might be the oversharing of the extremely radical side of Tumblr, it might be my aging and maturity; but over the course of the past year, there has been a marked difference in my response to new material put out by the organization. I’ve found myself looking at new information with a sense of skepticism, not really wanting to align myself to a belief until I have done further research and gotten information from both sides of the issue at hand.
With that, I have done my own investigation into the statistics I used to so blindly believe. The statistics were presented to me as: “1 in 3 women, and 1 in 4 men experience sexual assault on campus”. Yet, when reading a source prepared on the behalf of the Association of American Universities (AAU), they explicitly state in the opening remarks of the survey, that “Estimates such as “1 in 5” or “1 in 4” are overly simplistic, if not misleading. None of the studies which generate estimates for specific IHEs [institutes of higher education] are nationally representative”. The study goes on to highlight that only 19.3% of students who were contacted actually responded to the survey, and that percentage is not enough to be representative of the student body. [For more information: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/brian-earp/1-in-4-women-how-the-late_b_8191448.html]
Another reason I have recently become disillusioned with the organization is because of how it seems to always view women as being victims. Especially in more recent times, I am not a fan of victim complexes. I admit that I have dealt with my fair share of emotional abuse from awful past relationships, but I am not defined by those moments, nor am I a victim. At some point I might have been, but I’ve moved on and am a stronger and more wary person for it. I disagree with the constant portrayal of women as victims, and I also disagree with the portrayal of men as instigators of violence. Women are just as likely, if not more likely, to instigate violence or emotional abuse against men. We either never see it happening or the media doesn’t report on it because of assumed gender roles. It might be my unsavory experiences with 3rd and 4th wave feminists, but American feminism could now more accurately be defined as misandry. If feminism is the idea of equality for the genders, then why are there not shelters for abused men? Why aren’t there the same structures for men’s mental and emotional health as there are for women? And we still wonder why suicide rates among men are so much higher?
The much more practical reason that I am disillusioned with being a co-founder on my campus is simply because I don’t have the time. I already go to school full time and have made the awful choice of taking anatomy and neuroscience in the same semester. When I’m not in class, I’m at work. When I’m not at work, I’m doing schoolwork, or housework, or taking some mental health time to not go crazy because of my job. I am not being paid for my efforts on campus, I am not paid enough at my job to sustain life in Silicon Valley, so I am looking at more lucrative career opportunities and the additional schooling and different set of skills it will take. I am in debt from so many recent moves that my meager pay cannot sustain. I physically do not have the mental and physical energy to exert on something that is not rewarding to me. The very fact that I have now come to see being a co-founder as a chore is a blatant sign for me to step down and resign.
The other co-founder fights me on my decision to step down, stating that I need to help finish what I started, which is to make the organization officially recognized by the Associated Students Committee. I’ve been mentally checked out of the entire operation for the past half a year, but there is a part of me that wants to see this idea realized. But that part of me is not enough to outweigh the disillusionment I have with my current position.