Banned Essay: You’re Probably a Pheminist

The following essay was written by Le Moyne Peace and Global Studies/Political Science double major Kailey McDonald. She submitted it to the Le Moyne student newspaper, The Dolphin, and the student run paper refused to print it. So, I’m sharing it here.


You’re probably a Pheminist

By Kailey McDonald ‘15


“I support equality and everything, but I’m not a Feminist because…” WAIT. Stop right there. You actually are a feminist. I understand the confusion, though. Feminism has a lot of reincarnations, and the most well known is the man-hating, bra-burning warrior queen. To be fair, that Feminist is still pretty darn badass.

It takes an incredible amount of courage to speak out against the mainstream the way our foremothers did, and some pretty hefty ovaries to burn a 50 dollar bra [the sheer amount of cereal and PB&J that money could’ve bought is staggering]. But I’m a feminist, and I love men. I love my bras. I don’t feel any particular desire to burn them either.

So what does it mean to be a feminist?

The answer is pretty complicated. There are different types of feminism, and people wield their feminism in many different ways. But my feminism is about gender justice for every type of human, and plain old justice in general.

Maybe this is the fourth-wave of feminism, this “I’m not a feminist, I’m an equalist” rhetoric popular amongst the youngin’s these days [but let’s stick with the term feminist, I’d like to honor our foremothers’ courage with their coined term].  We’re moving away from the exclusive women-only feminist model popular in the 70s towards something new, something that has a place for every person burning for gender justice.

Millennial feminism can’t and won’t hate men, because it’s not [millennial] feminism if it’s exclusive. We cannot ignore the feminists that do not fit the middle-to-upper class white cis-women mold, the way they were excluded from the movement in the past. We cannot exclude anyone, because it’s not justice if it’s not for all.  This is my feminism, and my pledge.

We will not skinny-shame, fat-shame or slut-shame. We will not tell you that you cannot be a stay-at-home mother or father. We will not tell you that you can’t wear makeup, or must work full-time, or any of the other things you think feminism will tell you.

What feminism will tell you is that you alone can make the decisions that regard your future, your education, your body, your clothes, your makeup, your sexuality and all of the other decisions we make in our lives, whether you are a man, a woman, or identify as neither. These are basic rights that belong inherently to every human being, and I am here as a feminist to fight for them.

Chances are you want to support human rights for everyone. You like the idea of justice for all, and maybe you don’t know what gender justice is but it sounds pretty damn awesome. Chances are, you are a feminist. And there’s nothing negative or shameful about it! Let’s celebrate our feminism! I say we all get loud and proud. Let’s  make Le Moyne the cultural center of a movement. Let’s reclaim feminism, and make it the feminism we want it to be. If you’re “not a feminist, but…,” why don’t you join me, and take all of those absolutely dreadful things you hate about “feminism” and throw them out the window. Ixnay on the bra-burning for now [though I repeat, pretty bad ass]. Let’s brand it as something all Dolphins stand for. Let’s make feminism ours.

Let’s stand up as ‘Phins for Pheminism.



  1. Did they give a reason for refusing to print it? I can’t imagine a good one other than the possibility that it features better writing than is found in a typical college newspaper.

  2. Bravo, Kailey! Sometime between the first issue of Ms. Magazine and the Millenium, Feminism became a four letter word, often supplanted with Feminazi. Your thinking is completely on target – simple, basic, equal rights in all aspects of our lives. Seems simple doesn’t it? Yet we are still earning less than 80 cents on the dollar to our male colleagues, we are still asked in interviews if we are planning to have children (which is illegal, but the way) and the man at the hardware store still directed answers to my questions to my husband last week. And on we go.

    Here’s to simple, basic human rights … and to young women like you helping us remember why we burned those bras. And why we fight on.

    Your Pheminist Professor,
    Renée Downey Hart

  3. Misleading title just to grab attention, what a great reflection of the movement as a whole! But maybe its the emphasis on “badass” (repeated twice while attention is brought to it) that could cause a paper to reject it? The paper has the right to turn down anything it wants to. Just because it happened to be on feminism doesn’t mean they are sexist pigs. The paper turns down many submissions, and apparently some people are not emotionally mature enough to deal with rejection and have to blame it on hate that doesn’t exists.

  4. As a former Editor of The Dolphin back in the stone age of the early Fifties, I tell you that I would have published it in a heartbeat.

    Bob Betterton LeMoyne ’52

  5. “We will not skinny-shame, fat-shame or slut-shame. We will not tell you that you cannot be a stay-at-home mother or father. We will not tell you that you can’t wear makeup, or must work full-time, or any of the other things you think feminism will tell you.

    What feminism will tell you is that you alone can make the decisions that regard your future, your education, your body, your clothes, your makeup, your sexuality and all of the other decisions we make in our lives”

    1) You shouldn’t be telling anyone to do anything ever. It’s their lives and none of anyone’s business. 2) Not being judgmental applies to all people of earth and not just feminists or their movement 3) All people have pressures in their life, pressures from family, friends, teachers ect. It takes courage to be a good person and to follow your heart. This appears to have nothing to do with feminism, and more to do with general hate in the world. This is a good message, but I don’t think it is appropriate to make it feel like feminists are the only one’s who hold this view or are fighting for such things.

    1. 1. Did you read the second paragraph in YOUR quote. In summary, those two paragraphs literally say that you alone are the only person who can make decisions for yourself and that feminists believe that you should be able to do that.
      2. Feminists aren’t pretending as if they are the only ones who aren’t judgmental. This is simply saying that they are a movement who supports the rights of everyone and judges no one for whatever they want to do with their lives as long as it doesn’t infringe upon another person’s rights.
      3. Yes, everyone has pressures in their lives, but their is a difference between people you know pressuring you and society pressuring you and being enforced in everyday life. It’s not enough to follow your heart, you have to put up with a lot of crap to be who you want to be without being made to feel bad about being yourself.

      The personsisn’t saying only feminist fight for this, but rather, you cannot distance yourself from feminism and be the definition of what a feminist is.

      1. I guess that is where my confusion lies. This seems more like a description of a decent human being, so I’m still not quite sure what a feminist is.

  6. This is an well done, interesting, but brief article. It seems to me to be only the beginning of a discussion that could translate into something much more.

    With more time, a whole lot of coffee, and a very well supported and clear argument, I suspect a great thesis paper will emerge. I certainly would like to better understand her definition of “Millennial Feminism.” As it stands in this article alone, it seems to still be a too vague to fully grasp the differences between “Millennial Feminism” and other schools of thought such as humanism. Much of this of course is due to the length constraints that one faces when writing an article for a newspaper.

    As a former Dolphin I’m saddened that the piece didn’t make it into the paper. It’s not clear to me as to why it didn’t, but perhaps it will find it’s place in a future edition of The Dolphin. I would certainly be glad to see it there. What good is a newspaper if it can’t engage its readers in quality discussions such as the one this article elicits?

    Thank you for the share Dr. Loveland.

    Josh Kratz
    Class of 2011

  7. The newspaper may be looking for exceptional writing . This young lady’s message is in the content, perhaps a second draft would yield an essay that better expresses her point of view.

  8. I’m the current Opinion Editor for the paper. I assume this would have gone in my section, but the article never even crossed my path. I never saw or heard of it until I saw the mess on Yik Yak. But let me first ask you to not call it, “banned”. We did not ban anything, we didn’t publish it, which could be for many reasons. I would have published it but perhaps the problem was that it was submitted too late to go into the paper this week. I don’t actually know why it wasn’t published but you can’t just jump to these negative conclusions. I’ll have you know that the majority of the paper staff had been women for years. And I can tell you all of us are for equal rights for women and that we’re certainly not man-haters. But like I said, I was not aware the article was even submitted and I don’t know what happened, but the Dolphin editors are good people, and not anti-feminist.

    1. Hi Melissa,
      Thanks for your comment. I think you make a good point of my choice of the word banned. I do think it opened a discussion about why the article wasn’t printed, and I think you add some interesting detail.

      I also find it interesting that we are having a discussion on campus about whether women are given equal voice, and after you make the case that the Dolphin doesn’t have a history of sexism in terms of its editorship, you feel you have to tell us you aren’t a man-hater. Why did you think that was necessary?

  9. I really appreciate the usage of the term ‘equalist’. I believe the word ‘feminism’ has become outdated. Many men, myself included, have become fairly involved in the movement. I personally don’t have an issue using this word; I have been embracing it for years. That being said, I think it has slowed progress for our movement. I believe that ‘equalist’ has not become incorporated into our lexicon because we’re afraid to change the words of our foremothers. We should change the term, though. The movement is no longer exclusively for women. It is much more wide reaching than that. Using ‘equalist’ sounds more inclusive even if it’s essentially saying the same thing. I believe more men would get behind the movement if there was a term that appealed to them. Moreover, I believe that men’s rights activists and other groups that oppose feminism would be less likely to attack the term ‘equalist’ because it is such an inclusive sounding term.

  10. I think that this article is an excellent representation of what feminism should be. It allows people from any background to band together and sympathize. I am at a loss as to why this article was not printed but the article done by Leanne Padraig was. Her article was extremely caustic not only to men in general, but to men who actually sympathize with women and their cause of gender equality. If any literature was published for any sort of cause it should be positive and educational, not crass and offensive. Well done Kailey!!

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