Poudre's Feminist Club Challenges Misconceptions While Welcoming New Members
Three weeks ago, Poudre had our annual Club Rush- an opportunity for those participating in clubs to promote them, and for other students to learn about ways to get involved. Poudre is host to a wide variety of clubs, from FFA to eSports, with new ones popping up every year.
One of the more recent clubs to appear at Poudre is the Feminist Club. Run by Viola Economos, they are primarily organized by students, with thirty one members at the time of this article being written.
Feminism is something that most of us starting hearing about while growing up, though everyone’s understanding and knowledge of the movement varies. Feminist Club hopes to help combat some misconceptions that are prevalent in our communities.
“There are a lot of misconceptions about what feminism means, in all different affections of our community. [That] feminism is women over men, or feminism is not inclusive,” said Economos. “Our club is not all women, we have all sorts of people. We want to bring in aspects of race, and heritage, and sexuality, and the different things that go into feminism and discrimination.”
As defined by Merriam Webster, feminism is the “belief in and advocacy of the political, economic, and social equality of the sexes expressed especially through organized activity on behalf of women's rights and interests.” Over centuries, women have had to fight for rights that were guaranteed to their male counterparts. In our modern world, there is still a cry for equality uttered by many.
“There’s this idea of ‘post modern’ feminism, especially in the late nineties, early two thousands- kind of believing that we’re past feminism, that we’ve reached equality, which will probably never happen. We’re of the belief that feminism still needs to be fought for.”
Feminism, depending on who you ask, is typically thought of in three or four ‘waves.’ This metaphor first appeared in a New York Times article published in 1968, written by Martha Weinman Lear. First wave feminism is thought of taking place in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, with a focus on suffrage rights. The turning point that many associate with first-wave feminism is the Seneca Falls Convention 1848- Elizabeth Cady Stanton drafted the Seneca Falls Declaration outlining feminist ideologies while surrounded by three hundred men and women.
The major success of first wave feminism was the legalization of women’s voting rights in 1920. However, it’s important to remember that the first legalizations only allowed white women to vote - indigenous women didn’t get that right until 1924, and women of color didn’t get that right until 1965.
Second wave feminism is where we start to see issues of race and gender come into play. Beginning in the 1960s and continuing through the 90s, second wave feminism acknowledged race, class, and gender as factors of every day discrimination. This wave also advocated for reproductive rights and free sexuality, issues that we still struggle with today.
The third wave of feminism gained momentum in the mid-90s and built heavily on ideas from the second wave. This wave expanded on ideas of heteronormativity and identity. Gender and sexuality began to be regarded as more fluid, while many women celebrated being more typically feminine. Things like high-heels and lipstick, which had previously been regarded as tools of oppression, were embraced as tokens of strength in femininity.
Poudre’s feminist club is drawing on many ideals of these movements. Embracing all people in the community is an important thing in their meetings.
“I think it’s important to bring as many people, as many parts of Poudre together because that’s definitely what feminism is all about,” said Economos.
Feminist Club has had a few meetings this year. As the club grows, ideas and goals are growing and expanding.
“[At first] our meetings were kind of planning what we want for the future, and talking about why we started the club, what we wanted to embrace. We have some lofty goals for feminist club. We’re gonna have a big feminine products drive, period products, which is something we do through Feed Our Families. Last year we had an amazing turnout for all those products, but we wanna do another drive, at some point in the year, and bring in a lot of products to send to homeless shelters and women’s shelters, and then to also send off to Ukraine to help with the period poverty there. Hopefully, because we did collect so many excess period products last year, we can put in those like metal dispensers into different bathrooms in the school, and for free, obviously, and make that like a feminist endeavor,” stated Economos.
As more and more people learn about feminist club, there are share to be varying ideas about the goals and ideals that they hold. Viola Economos gave a message to those wondering: “I would say definitely come and see what it’s like before you have misconceptions or even just things you’ve conceived about feminist club. Definitely just come and see the amazing people, and see how open we are, and everything. And even if you don’t think you are a feminist, still come to feminist club, we’re not gonna try to change you. We’d still love to hear what everyone has to say and give everyone a seat at our table.”
Information about Feminist Club can be found at their website, or on their Instagram, @phs.feminist.club
Eddy Merritt is a junior at Poudre High School. She is head author of Cacophony blog, and this is her first year writing for Poudre Press. She is deeply involved in Fort Collins culture, and is inspired by the work her peers do. You can check out her blog, Cacophony, here.