Whether due to internalized misogyny or a skewed perception of what the word means, many high school students are scared of the F(eminist) word. I’m a high school student myself, so I’m not putting the blame solely on us for our preconceived notions of the word; however, I do think those notions need to change.
Luckily, more and more feminist clubs are popping up in high schools across the world; here I’ve compiled some tips from feminist club founders at high schools near me to help you start your own club at your school!
What kinds of feminist clubs are there?
I first spoke to Cathy, the leader of her high school’s Mariposa club. “Mariposa is a prevention program of the Napa County Office of Education that empowers young women to stand up against substance use and violence”, says Cathy. “We teach girls about abuse in relationships and family…as well as [about] drugs and alcohol.” While Mariposa doesn’t brand itself specifically as a feminist club, it is completely dedicated to female empowerment. The club at Cathy’s school currently has 10 people and has had 7 leaders participate in “45 to 48 hours [of] training” to educate middle and high school girls. Members of Mariposa frequently participate in and host local events and projects, such as a haunted house this year and Red Ribbon Week awareness projects.
There are also more general feminist clubs, such as the one at my high school. Hannah and Maddy, the two founders, try their best to make sure everyone knows “this isn’t just a group for girls, this is a group for everyone that supports equal rights.” Hannah and Maddy hold weekly meetings, where members enthusiastically discuss current events, pop culture, and even school policies, all viewed through a feminist lens.
What kind of impact can a feminist club have on your high school?
Hannah and Maddy just started the club this year, so they are currently working on an introductory “What is Feminism” video to show at the next all-school meeting. “We have really big goals for spreading awareness and just setting the record straight about feminism”, says Hannah. “I think it’s good to have a club like this for people who are passionate to be able to channel that into something we can all work together towards.”
Cathy agrees. She said Mariposa has opened the doors to so many girls who are “too shy to come to teachers and counselors” and want to talk to club members their own age instead. “They come talk to us about the simplest to the hardest decisions, from ‘What do I wear to a job interview?’ to, ‘What do I do when I know someone’s been hit by a boyfriend/girlfriend, and we guide them through situations like that.”
Having a space where high school students can come together and feel empowered and supported by their peers is fantastic, and one of the main values of both of these clubs. “We make [girls] feel like they are never alone. We unite girls to feel empowered to be a girl, to never feel like they can’t do things because they are a girl,” says Cathy.
So, how do I get people to join my club?
If your school has a club day, all-school meetings, or any other way to get the word out, get out there! Create posters, and get together a small group of friends that would be willing to be the initial members of your group. Find a teacher, counselor, or other mentor that could be an advisor to your group, or start looking at your local county education offices for outreach programs similar to Mariposa. Brainstorm fun projects and events your club could take on; for example, Hannah and Maddy are thinking of having a “feminist concert night” at a local art collective, where supporters of equal rights can share music, socialize, and discuss feminist issues.
I wish you all the best of luck with your budding feminist clubs. Does your school already have one? If so, what impact do you feel it’s had on your school, and if not, what kind of impact do you think it could have? Let me know in the comments below.
Cover image courtesy of Shutterstock.