There are a lot of amazing women out there, and there is a lot of good advice to be had. Whether you’re just starting out with your understanding of feminism, or if you’ve already been walking this path for a while, reading some really lovely feminist advice for college students, and for everyone, is sure to help heal you, uplift you, and help you consider what it is that may be holding you back. I know that you’ve learned so many lessons already, and that you are capable of everything you plan on achieving. I hope that this advice for college students sparks something in you, as it does for me.
“And to the children of our country, regardless of your gender, our country has sent you a clear message: Dream with ambition, lead with conviction, and see yourself in a way that others might not see you, simply because they’ve never seen it before.” -Kamala Harris
It seems fitting to me to start this article off with a quote from the first female VP of the U.S. in her VP-elect acceptance speech from November 2020. When I watched Kamala Harris walk out on that stage to give this speech, and then heard her words while feeling that sense of newness that comes from witnessing the first, my eyes were not dry.
Reading through the transcript even today as I write this, I tear up as I feel what it means to be something that has never been seen before. That’s the really important part of her advice: dare to see yourself apart from others’ perceptions of you, and imagine yourself beyond the limits of our collective memory. This could mean going into a male-dominated field, changing your gender or sexual identity, changing your values, all sorts of things! You should go for it, whatever that ‘new’ thing is.
“Justice is about making sure that being polite is not the same thing as being quiet. In fact, often times, the most righteous thing you can do is shake the table.” -Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez
Another political powerhouse who is definitely not afraid to break boundaries and shake the table, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is probably the protagonist in my life. Okay, so I am actually the protagonist of my life, but AOC is a beloved role model and I would gladly take on the role of ‘extra’ in her life if I were ever to get the privilege! AOC doesn’t just preach, but practices every word.
You shouldn’t have to be quiet in times of injustice just to be polite. In fact, you should follow AOC’s example and speak up. You can be polite if you want to, but now you know: being polite doesn’t mean you have to say nothing. Good advice for college students is to stand up in class and speak your mind, even and especially when your professors or classmates are being verbally oppressive. It is at those times that your heart will leap out of your chest, that you can make a real difference for someone, and that your true character will show. Do this with your friends and family, too!
“I think transwomen, and transpeople in general, show everyone that you can define what it means to be a man or woman on your own terms. A lot of what feminism is about is moving outside of roles and moving outside of expectations of who and what you’re supposed to be to live a more authentic life.” – Laverne Cox
Trans women are women, and women define who they are. Women define who they are because women are people, and the nature of people is to make up their identities any way that they please. You don’t have to fit the mold of any woman out there for you to affirm and own your identity. You never have to be what other people tell you you are. You will always, always, always have the final say on your identity. My advice for college students is that if your parents, culture, religion, friend group, or perspective of yourself and the world is preventing you from being your own authentic self, give yourself the permission to grow and change.
Also, feminism is not feminism if it doesn’t include transwomen. Feminism is about equality and not exclusion.
“The most common way people give up their power is by thinking they don’t have any.” -Alice Walker
Alice Walker is a famous author who wrote The Color Purple, which won the American Book Award as well as the Pulitzer Prize. If you haven’t heard of her or the book or the movie that stars Oprah Winfrey and Whoopi Goldberg, it’s because the book has been censored, banned, and challenged due to its explicitness in terms of violence, language, and sexuality.
My advice for college students is to read any book that was banned, and ask yourself why someone decided you couldn’t read it in the first place. Doing things like this allow you to take agency and decide for yourself. Never forget that other people making decisions for you is their way of trying to hold power over you. Sure, you can allow it, but you can also refuse to allow it. That power is yours and yours alone, so you can decide who uses it, how much, and when (and if) they are allowed to. This is true with friends, partners, parents, professors, bosses, and anyone else who doesn’t treat you like an equal.
“There is a true telling that happens at that nexus of Blackness and feminism. At the space of having to work twice as hard to get half as far, which is a Black proverb, and at that space of knowing that so often you can be the dopest chick in the room, and they’ll give it to the mediocre white man in the room.
Putting those things together gives you a clarity and a vision about where we can go if we stop oppressing Black folks, and women, and gender non-conforming folks, and so Black feminism taught me that, and I think it can teach you that, too. ” -Brittney Cooper
I love, love, love Brittney Cooper. She is a well-educated and well-written Black feminist who unapologetically talks about Black feminism, and in a way that still feels accessible to me as a person who is white and also a feminist. Her book, Eloquent Rage, which I highly recommend to anyone looking to further their understanding of feminism, was informative and engaging as it talked about feminism, Blackness, oppression, and racism. These topics can be really challenging for some people to talk about and to digest, and I think that the delivery of Eloquent Rage can help elevate your perspective even if these are challenging topics for you.
Feminism should never exist in a place where Black feminism does not also exist, is not supported, and is not talked about. We need all women to change the world, not just a select few. Check out this video of Brittney Cooper on gradualism, which I happened to pull the quote from.
This quote is important because the most feminist thing I can think of is inclusion and equality. Feminism is about equal rights, and the sooner you include everyone in ‘equal,’ the better. This quote is also about worth: a friend of mine recently told me that she had to learn the hard way that ‘just because a white, cisgender man says something with more confidence than you doesn’t mean that he is right and/or that you are wrong.’ Know that you can be the dopest (chick or not) in the room and still not be recognized for it due to societal norms, and know that your worth does not depend on the validation of others.
What is the best feminist advice for college students that you’ve ever received? How have you separated the best feminist advice and the best advice for college students, and how can you reincorporate it?
Committed to diversity, inclusion, beauty, and making life just a little bit easier.