Hello feminist world! I recently graduated from California State University-Los Angeles and the best thing that happened to me in college was the growth and development of my deep passion for women’s equality with the support of an amazing, vibrant community made up of students and faculty.
My best advice to any young feminist out there is this: Take as many as possible courses in Women’s Gender and Sexuality Studies (WGSS), or the equivalent at your school, as you can. Having a feminist academic space on campus is pivotal to your growth as feminist. That is where I found the space I had been desperately looking for. That is where I was finally given a voice, not just in writing my own story, but in activism. I became involved with the FMLA chapter at CSULA and realized what I wanted to do for the rest of my life: organizing.
My FMLA was more than a campus club; we were a student movement bringing visibility to the many injustices we were facing as students and as community members. In the fall 2013 quarter, our campus experienced an unusually high amount of activity from an anti-choice group that bashes women who have had abortions or are thinking about getting one. This group is part of a nationwide anti-choice campaign that targets clinics and public spaces twice a year for 40 days of intensified harassment. As a group, we decided to organize and create a space to counter-argue these folks.
The purpose of the space was to let women know that we stood in solidarity with them. We did a silent protest where we put red tape across our mouths; we also did a rally with different posters such as “Pro-Women Pro-Baby Pro-Choice,” “Keep your Politics Off Our Bodies,” “Queers Unite.” The anti-choice group was extremely homophobic, which also allowed us to open our safe space to the queer community and allies. By creating this safe space, we realized how many students the anti-choice and homophobic group had bothered emotionally.
This fight against heterosexism lasted eight weeks. Our general member population quadrupled during that quarter and we began to average more than 30 students at every general meeting. We also held a petition drive at CSULA to bring awareness and demand a major and department in WGSS. We collected about 700 signed petitions and met with Dean Peter McAllister, who has publicly announced his support of the establishment of a WGSS major and department at CSULA. One of our proudest moments was when FMLA won “CSULA’s 2013-14 Outstanding Contribution To Social Justice Award.”
I am sharing all this information on the activism I was a part of because I want to encourage everyone reading this to use me as a resource regarding programming and organizing on your campus. I will be happy to work closely with anyone interested in making the feminist community more vibrant on their campus!