Young Calgary residents talk feminism, role models on International Women's Day

We quizzed young Calgarians at Mount Royal University on Gloria Steinem, feminism and female role models on International Women's Day.

Family members, pop culture figures top the list

Gloria Steinem will speak at the U of C on Tuesday evening. (Fabiola Carletti/CBC)

Renowned writer, activist and feminist organizer Gloria Steinem is speaking at the University of Calgary on Tuesday evening.

Steinem, 81, was a central figure in the American feminist movement in the late 1960s and early 1970s. She now travels worldwide and lectures about equality. 

We quizzed young Calgarians at Mount Royal University on Steinem, feminism, and female role models. Here's what they had to say.

Who is Gloria Steinem?

"I don't know that much, I've definitely heard the name. I think a lot of people who are feminists know her," said Claire Forsyth.

Claire Forsyth says a lot of people misinterpret the issues of feminism. (CBC)

"I would definitely say they were more part of that strong feminist, radical movement but I think that's what culture and society really needed at that time in the 70s and 80s. It really needed radical people to provide changes," said Calla Stinson.​

Calla Stinson says feminism requires balance and respect. (CBC)

​What does feminism mean to you?

"I think feminism gets pushed around in different ways. A lot of people look at it negatively. Before I was taking some courses here, I viewed feminism as a little too intense and not really for me. I think the more people get educated around feminism, the more it will be well-known and the more there will be people who want to speak about it," said Nadeeka Forster​.

Nadeeka Forster, left, says she looks up to the strong women in her life. (CBC)

"We have two definitions of feminists. The ones who are man haters and the ones who want equality. I'm fully supportive of equality. I want women's rights, I want women politicians, I want women everywhere because they have been suppressed for so long. The problem is our societal values, especially in North America, have come from a society that has so long suppressed women. I am 100 per cent supportive of actual feminism which supports equality, which supports women being given a chance, but not this man-hating," said Taylor Chiok.

Taylor Chiok says he's 100 per cent supportive of equality. (CBC)

Which women do you look up to?

"My mom is one of my biggest heroes and as a single mother, she's done a lot to raise us. Emma Watson's done a lot for the feminist community as well," said Hailey Tata.

Hailey Tata says she looks up to her mom as a role model.

​"Lena Dunham. She's the writer and director for Girls and she's done a couple other short films and full length films. She does a lot of work for feminism, she has a newsletter called the Lenny Letter and they interview different people on different feminist issues, everything from family planning to women's rights in the workplace," said Claire Forsyth.

What does feminism look like today?

"There needs to be more of a focus on education of what's going on now and how to improve that or promote feminism for the future and create that awareness. There's no longer people petitioning and walking around advocating for women's rights to have abortions or to have things like the right to vote. There needs to be a focus on what's the future for women," said Alex Smither.​

Alex Smither says feminism today has to focus on the future. (CBC)

"​You need those radical people at the forefront. I think sometimes it's just gone a bit too far the other way so that people who are pushing these roles and values are a bit too strong about it and other people feel disrespected in them doing that, and I don't think that's fair either," said Calla Stinson.