If you're a woman at Princeton, there's a decent chance that you're already a feminist. But there's an even greater chance that you fall into the "I'm not a feminist, but..." category.
As a self-confessed raging feminist, I don't think anyone should be ashamed of the label, and I wear it with pride, but I can understand how many women are not quite ready for it yet. So until they are, here are five ways to be a feminist without ever having to use the f-word.
First, quit obsessing about your body. Stop criticizing it in public. Stop telling other girls "I wish I had your thighs." Every time you do, you're reinforcing the idea that women are only valuable if they're physically attractive. You have an amazing brain - you deserve to be recognized for it. You might also have an amazing body, but while society values men for their brains regardless of what their bodies look like, women are still largely valued only for their appearance. (You don't hear anyone talking about Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.)'s wrinkles, but everyone's wondering whether Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.) has had botox.) Set an example for other women and for the world by valuing yourself and your friends for the right reasons.
Secondly, quit calling each other sluts and whores. As Tina Fey explained in "Mean Girls," if women call each other sluts and whores, it makes it OK for guys to call them sluts and whores. Fey was right - if women not only allow this kind of demeaning language but use it themselves, we're sending a strong message that it's acceptable for men to demean us. Why is it demeaning? They're just words, right? Think for a moment about their former meaning. They used to mean "prostitute." True, their meaning has evolved over the years, but even today the sentiment is the same: This woman is contemptible because she engages in sex. There is no male equivalent to "slut." Can you say "double standard"? Do yourself and your friends a favor and stop reviling women for having sex, unless you're going to revile men equally.
Third, don't let advertisers sell you "empowerment." In 2003, The Onion ran a hilarious article called "Women Now Empowered by Everything a Woman Does," which poked fun at our habit of calling everything we do a "personal choice" and thus equating it with feminism. I didn't realize how widespread this phenomenon was until I saw a Chapstick ad that said "Chapstick: Empowering women!" Chapstick will give you smooth lips. It will not make you a strong, independent woman. Be a smart consumer: Advertisers probably aren't the best authority on what empowerment looks like, especially if they're telling you that it looks exactly like their product.
Fourth, make smart sexual decisions. It's easy for feminism to be distorted until it looks a lot like Samantha on "Sex and the City": unattached, meaningless sex, or as she calls it, "sex like a man." But feminism means being able to make the right choice for you. If that means hooking up after a night at the Street, go for it, but make sure you're doing it because you want to. If it means waiting until marriage, go for it, but again, don't let anyone pressure you into doing something you don't want to do. Listen to your own sexual desires, acknowledge their legitimacy, and - if it's the right choice for you - follow them.
Finally, value real women. Admire and emulate women who make intellectual contributions, women of talent and integrity. Yes, it's mindless fun to follow the lives of the tabloid staples, but Amy Winehouse isn't a good role model for anyone. Maureen Dowd, the Dixie Chicks, your female professors, countless women who are business leaders and politicians all make real contributions and can inspire us to do the same.
If you already do these five things, congratulations, you're a feminist. Deal with it. Those of you still in the "I'm not a feminist, but..." camp, not quite ready to burn your bras: Take these five steps, and you'll be on your way to saying the f-word out in the open.
Chloe Angyal is a junior from Sydney, Australia. She can be reached at email@example.com.