Since the first meeting of Feminist Club, students passionate about gender equality can congregate Room 317 every other Wednesday to discuss the importance of women’s rights around the world.
The club was the brainchild of freshman Ellie VanGorden, who was inspired by Emma Watson’s empowering speech given at United Nations Headquarters last September. She researched all she could about feminism and realized there should be a school club to support it. Freshman Iman Jaroudi loved this idea and decided to join by taking charge of all the paperwork and advertising. Now VanGorden and Jaroudi, as well as friends Hazel Carson and Mallory Kirk, all co-lead Feminist Club.
“Something amazing is happening and we’re trying to promote that and let people know that it’s cool now to support [feminism],” said VanGorden. “I want people to stop being afraid of promoting something that maybe your friends think is stupid.”
The girls advertised their new club with posters, a slide on the TVs in the hallway, an announcement on Skyward and by telling their friends. They next hope to target people who believe in gender equality, but don’t consider themselves feminists.
“A lot of people give all these great examples of why women should be equal and why they believe in [feminism] and then they’re like, ‘Well I’m not a feminist,’” Jaroudi said. “I think we really need to work on promoting the idea that we’re not crazy, we’re not scary, we’re not radical. We just want equality.”
So far, there have been two meetings. The first turned out much more popular than the girls expected, reigning in about 40 students. The plan was for each person to take a turn introducing themselves and why they’re a feminist, then move on to a discussion about the history of feminism.
“What ended up happening is people got so passionate about the introductions they started giving speeches,” Jaroudi said. “One person prepared a list of ‘this is why I’m a feminist.’ It turned out to be pretty great.”
The turnout of the first meeting surprised both the cofounders and club sponsor, World Regional Studies teacher Steve Klein. They knew passionate feminists would show up, but did not expect to find people there who were shy at first and opened up as the afternoon went on. Even one of Jaroudi’s friends, who had no an opinion on women’s rights prior to the club, considered herself a feminist by the end of the first meeting.
The main focus of Feminist Club is to provide a community for students to come together to discuss the issue of women’s inequality, and know that their voice is being heard.
“You walk into Feminist Club and there’s 38 other people there who are also really passionate feminists,” Jaroudi said. “And it’s saying you’re not alone in your fight for gender equality and if you really want to fight for this, there is a community for you that you can go to.”
Because the club started in the middle of the year, it cannot receive any school funding until next August. The cofounders plan to use this money, as well as hold a fundraiser, to donate to women’s organizations around the world and sell spiritwear next year. They hope having T-shirts will give people who are unable to come to meetings the chance to show their support, as well as spread the word about feminism and show that feminists are normal people.
“Feminism is one of the only things that even if you’re just wearing the T-shirt you’re still really helping the cause,” Carson said, “Because you can start a conversation with someone who might not know what it is.”
VanGorden, Jaroudi, Carson and Kirk all want to use Feminist Club to share the truth about equality and give it more recognition, because it isn’t a subject talked about in school. The cofounders hope that their new club will shine a light on gender equality as a worthy cause and help people push past the notion that feminists are radical, bra-burning women who don’t shave.
“Feminists have a bad reputation,” Jaroudi said. “We’re not this weird, bizarre cult that practices witchcraft. We’re normal people who think that women just need to be treated equally. Why is that so wrong? We want people to know that we’re not just going to sit on the sidelines and contribute to our own dehumanization.”