Feminist Society for Women’s Rights on Campus

Popular culture likes to portray feminists as belligerent bra burners who blame men for every problem on Earth; the Feminist Society on campus offers a very different view.

The Feminist Society flyer is upfront about being inclusive. “Anybody with an interest in feminism can join!” it reads and describes the club as being “intersectional.”

“Intersectionality existed for a real long time, but Kimberlé Crenshaw is the person that came up with the term ‘intersectionality feminism,’ and it basically means that women face oppression in varying degrees,” said Feminist Society founder Ani Gasparyan.

“For example, a white woman experiences sexism from a very different way than a black woman.”

There are many feminists who think what applies to them, applies to all women equally. The Feminist Society rejects this view, focusing on the plight of women of color, trans women, lesbians and white women.

They examine the different forms of oppression a woman can experience depending on what she identifies as and how different forms of oppression can work together to make life for some women harder than others.

The Feminist Society began during the spring 2015 semester, the second such club since 2014, the previous club failing to last very long. This one expects to stick around longer. “My goal is to establish us on campus to make sure there will always be a feminist club,” Gasparyan explained. They meet to discuss activism and women’s issues.

So far things seem to be going well for them thanks to an aggressive effort for increased visibility during club rush, asking students passing by their booth if they would like to join the Feminist Society and selling food to make a little profit while at it. While this outreach once got them heckled as “feminazis,” it appears to have been successful.

The club also supports the use of trigger warnings and send all members of the Feminist Society emails about meeting content ahead of time, likening them to movie ratings and consider the warnings a significant part in creating safe learning environments.

Vice president of the club Luz Martínez sees their main accomplishment so far getting the Feminist Society running, giving feminists a safe place to speak freely.

“If it wasn’t for Ani, then we wouldn’t have discussions like this, and this is already super important because these people who are coming to talk about it didn’t have a place on campus to discuss it with each other,” Martínez said.

“It’s hard for you to be in class and be like, ‘Oh hey, by the way, I’m a feminist,’ and have them take that in a positive way.”

It is telling how on both their flyers and website that they have to address the question: “Do feminists hate men?”

Gasparyan said it is what the Feminist Society is most frequently asked, and the club answers it by pointing out that the question is not if feminists hate men, but that “society constantly exhibits behavior that says that it hates women … so the right question to ask would be, if you’re not a feminist or a feminist ally, do you hate women?”

The Feminist Society meets from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m. on Wednesdays at SR 113.