Sunday, 7 September 2014

School's FEM Club touts women's rights

There are currently 385 girls enrolled at La Cañada's all-female Flintridge Sacred Heart Academy. But despite all those young women, and more than 30 student organizations on campus, there wasn't a club expressly dedicated to feminism or women's rights.
Until now.
Sarah Perret and Gina-Sophia Zamudio were freshmen last year when they decided to organize their shared interest in women's rights into a club for young feminists.
The pair had always had a keen curiosity for why it seemed to them, in society at large, that women faced so many pressures, while their male counterparts enjoyed so many personal liberties.
When they saw a sex-education film in their religious class that espoused traditional roles, values and wardrobes for women, without mentioning similar responsibilities among men, the two friends were inspired to act.
"We just kind of got that subtle message, and we sort of wanted to challenge that a little bit," says Zamudio.
Thanks to their efforts, FSHA girls now have the option this year of joining FEM Club, the campus' first organization dedicated to exploring the complex issues that surround feminism and women's rights in the modern era.
The friends have formed a board for the club, created a mission statement, and hope to enlist cohorts in the coming weeks.
Far from a denouncement of the school's traditional values, Zamudio and Perret say they hope the new "Feminism Education Movement" will help start important dialogues among the school's all-female student body about the very subtle ways in which they might encounter sexist beliefs and assumptions in their everyday lives, Perret says.
"Sometimes, it's little comments like, 'Oh, go make me a sandwich, woman,'" she adds, invoking a joke a male friend or sibling might employ. "That just bothers us. We're people too; we don't really want to be thought of as less."
Holly Hunnewell, FSHA English teacher and faculty adviser for FEM Club, said she was excited to hear the girls' ideas for the club and hopes students who join will come to understand more about the roots of feminism, possibly dispelling some myths along the way.
Since the '90s, she added, many young women in America have pulled away ideologically from the tenets adopted by the feminist movement during the '60s and '70s. FEM Club brings to campus an opportunity for girls to learn more about women's rights, in their communities and globally.
"We'll be looking not only at our roles as women, but the roles of woman and how they're treated and mistreated around the world," says Hunnewell. "One of the most important things about being a feminist, or a budding feminist, is to question assumptions."
Soon, the FEM Club's board will help decorate the group's bulletin board, in the hall where on-campus activities are advertised.
Hunnewell suggested they pin photos of themselves and celebrities known for supporting girl power under the heading, "This is what a feminist looks like."
They hope students will see the display and decide to pin their pictures there, too. After all, women supporting each other is what feminism in its purest sense is all about, the girls say.
"We're at an all-girls school," Zamudio adds. "We should recognize that we're all sisters."


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