The Third Annual Women’s Forum and Tea Social gathered approximately 100 students to spur discussion on the present relevance of feminism.
Keynote speaker Serena Porter, a Fullerton College alumna, shared her early experiences as a young, Nebraska feminist and made the case for a renewal of feminist values.
“All generations need feminism,” she said. “And women need to be each other’s biggest supporters.”
Porter got her speech underway by asking the audience what they thought when they heard the word “feminism.” The mostly female audience responded with varying answers. Porter defined feminism as the, “fight for equality in the political and economic sphere.”
“It’s okay to make a choice,” Student Caroline De Lao said. “Men need to know that it’s okay women can make their own choices.”
Male attendees were welcomed to the event, and directed to the back of the room.
The intention was to make it as comfortable as possible for the women to engage in an honest dialogue.
“I was close to challenging that,”Jonathon Fierros, a Theater Arts major said. He hoped to, “gain a new perspective on modern feminism.”
Porter later made a summation of the world-wide status of women today. She cited a number of incidents and episodes involving everyone from Rush Limbaugh to Malala Yousafza, a 15-year-old Pakistani girl who was shot in the head last year.
“I feel that people have just been living in a bubble,” Porter said.
She also outlined the history of feminist achievements in the United States, highlighting milestones such as the 1948 Seneca Falls Convention in N.Y. and the passage of the Ninth Amendment in 1920, which guaranteed women the right to vote.
Porter spoke about her past trials of growing up in a Christian family while becoming a budding feminist.
When she expressed interest in joining the Coast Guard, her father said, “No Christian young lady joins the military.”
Porter’s speech was followed by Political Science Professor Jodi Balma.
“Feminism isn’t radical,” Balma said. She went on to blame the “sensationalist media” as the cause behind the perception.
After the speeches guests participated in supervised discussions. Each table had a facilitator to guide the conversations.
“It’s pretty interesting, it’s not just a wacky ideology.” Pat Breen, a Political Science major said.