Light blue hats bob along with the current of students making their way to class, buoys caught in the rapids. These hats, labeled “Feminist” in white lettering, have become a PHS phenomenon, with wearers ranging from students to teachers to parents and some continuing to flaunt them after they have left PHS. This is just one of the many campaigns the Feminism Club has begun, and it certainly won’t be their last.
Feminism Club was founded by class of ‘14 students Claire Pinkham and Eliza Kaufman the year after news coverage of the Fantasy Slut League at PHS became widespread, Feminism Club adviser Anne Aldridge-Peacock said.
“Some of it was fueled by some people’s reactions to the FSL, where it was kind of like ‘oh it was a joke, it wasn’t that bad,’ and kind of minimizing the impact on individual people as well as the community,” Aldridge-Peacock said. “I think that was a catalyst for people saying ‘hey wait, we need to talk about the issues of gender equality on campus.’”
Feminism Club invites people to learn more about feminism and to create a welcoming and safe space, said co-president of Feminism Club Natalie Stollman.
“I feel like I didn’t know what feminism was until I joined,” said junior and a leader of Feminism Club Ko Narter.
Narter, who joined Feminism Club her freshman year, said that educating and creating a welcoming environment is one of the great things the club does.
“Having a club where you can just show up gives so many people, who wouldn’t have been able to take their own step towards equality, that space where they could if they want to,” Narter said.
The club often listens to podcasts, TED talks, or film clips together during meetings and has discussions afterwards about the content, said co-president of Feminism Club Nina Adarkar.
“I’ve been wanting to talk about more controversial topics, versus a feminist podcast that we all agree with,” Narter said. “We are all at such different stages in our beliefs and our moral compass, so it’s really interesting to hear not just the black and white topics, but those that have a gray area.”
Stollman said that bringing discussion about intersectionality, the idea that discrimination against a minority comes from more than one type of prejudice (i.e. racism and sexism), within the feminist movement is one of her goals for the club.
“We found it really important to spread awareness of feminism and women’s issues, especially with a focus on intersectionality within the feminist movement,” Stollman said. “At Piedmont, we don’t often see those different sections in what it means to be a woman, so I found it really important to bring that discussion to the table.”
Adarkar said that having these discussions is vital to understanding sexism.
“So much of what we do is learning,” Adarkar said. “And so much of the solution to sexism is learning, and realizing ‘oh, there really is a wage gap, it’s not a hoax.’ It’s talking about it, discussing things, and I think that’s why this club specifically in Piedmont is really important.”
The club has also expanded beyond their weekly meetings. They are currently in the midst of a campaign, selling their trademark blue feminist hats online. In the past they have done campaigns where they photograph students and faculty members with signs stating why they need feminism or why it’s important, Aldridge-Peacock said.
“Photo campaigns were the best option for a high school club because they were a cool way for people to be involved and share their opinions without having to commit,” said former Feminism Club co-president Anna Morris, class of ‘16, about her years in the club. “A lot of times people were scared to come to the meetings or were busy, so being able to stop by at the photo campaigns was really good.”
Stollman said that a person does not have to be knowledgeable about feminism in order to come to the meetings.
“Some people feel like ‘I’m not enough of a feminist to wear that feminist hat or come to a meeting,’ but really, if you believe in equality, no one’s more feminist than anyone else,” Adarkar said.