VOICE joins feminists from across US

Erica Clark

Campus Life Editor

From left to right, first-year Lydia Lissanu, seniors Lindsey Jagoe, Emily Evans and Vika Safarian, and junior Jessica Obi attended the National Young Feminist Leadership Conference this month in Washington, D.C.

Last week, six Transylvania students returned from Washington, D.C., where they attended the National Young Feminist Leadership Conference, an annual gathering that brings together young feminists from all over the United States who inspire one another and exchange ideas while learning about the new issues in the fourth wave of the women’s movement.

Those who attended were seniors Austyn Gaffney, Lindsey Jagoe, Emily Evans and Vika Safarian, junior Jessica Obi and first-year Lydia Lissanu.

“VOICE (Transy’s feminist organization) went because it is just now getting fired up again this year,” said Evans. “We wanted to know what feminist groups on other campuses are doing to get rid of the negative stereotype associated with feminism at their universities, and how they were fighting for current feminist issues.”

Among those who spoke at the conference included a Virginia senator and delegate and Shelby Knox, an advocate for comprehensive sex education and a star in the documentary “The Education of Shelby Knox.”

“She’s my personal hero,” Evans said about Knox.

The students attended workshops, one of which was entitled “Rape is Rape,” where they learned about the implications of sexual assault.

“The women on the panel emphasized that there is a strong connection between rape and control of women and their bodies, and they encouraged us to be the generation that ends rape culture,” said Evans. “This means taking the matter seriously and ending victim-blaming. We learned that there are 500,000 untested rape kits in the U.S. So after a rape survivor has gone through the difficult process of having her body examined for her rapist’s DNA after being violated, the kit isn’t even being tested. It is infuriating. There are rapists still running free and possibly raping others.”

According to http://familydoctor.org, a doctor will examine a rape victim’s body for injuries. In most hospitals, a rape kit is used to help collect evidence such as clothing fibers, hairs, saliva, semen or body fluid that may help identify a rapist and be used in court.

The conference attendees were divided based on regions of the United States, and the six Transy students were part of the southern caucus.

“While in the southern caucus group, we exchanged ideas for possible conscious-raising events and discussed issues specific to our region, where it is even harder to fight for equal rights because of its conservative nature,” said Evans. “We left the conference with new enthusiasm and passion for feminist issues in the world and on our campus. We would like to see more students with an awareness of feminist issues including access to contraception, personhood amendments and rape culture.”

Anyone interested in becoming a part of the organization can “like” VOICE on Facebook and see when the group’s next meeting is.

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