Jessica Valenti felt the full force of bringing the feminist movement online and into the 21st century. She endured online abuse, rape and death threats, as well as dismissal by other feminists while she made a career out of being a professional feminist. And it all started with her blog, Feministing.com.
Valenti brought her views and suggestions for jumpstarting positive feminism as the featured presenter for “Why Feminism Matters: Activism, Sexism and Politics” in the Mills Godwin Building Thursday, Nov. 7.
Valenti was named one of the “Top 100 Inspiring Women in the World” by The Guardian. Her third book, “The Purity Myth: How America’s Obsession with Virginity is Hurting Young Women,” was made into a documentary. Her anthology “Yes Means Yes: Visions of Female Sexual Power and a World Without Rape” which was named one of Publishers Weekly’s “Top 100 Books of 2009”.
Valenti stressed that feminists cover a multiplicity of issues, including transphobia, homophobia, abortion, violence on women, sex trafficking, abortion and rape.
“Feminism is seen as a threat because it makes women powerful,” said Valenti.
Audience members admitted that some of them were freaked out to own the word, feminist, because of all of the stereotypes surrounding it. Society likes to call feminist hairy, believing that they don’t shave and lesbians because they hate men.
Foster didn’t expect to like Valenti, but ended up liking her standpoint, her humor, and her real life examples. “Feminism covers so many more areas than I expected,” Foster said.
Scott Whittington, a communications major stated that he was “surprised that modern day politicians are spitting out such idiocy” in reference to comments previously uttered by former Republican Representative Todd Akin.
Audience members were also surprised to learn that in Iraq, women serving in the military are more likely to be raped by a fellow solider than killed by enemy fire. Valenti acknowledged that women endure horrors in other countries, like rape, genital mutilation and sex trafficking.
La Wanza Lett-Brewington, director of the Women’s Center, was impressed with the outcome of Valenti’s visit.
“I believe that many people learned a new or broadened perspective about the history of feminism, what feminism is, and how it can be something everyone can connect with on some level,” Lett-Brewington said.
For additional information, please visit, www.jessicavalenti.com or feministing.com.
By Pamula Floyd