Meet Katy Wong! She majors in chemical engineering and gender and sexuality studies at Tulane, and got the opportunity to go to Feminist Camp in Seattle this summer.
Describe yourself and why you wanted to attend the Feminist Camp:
I have always considered myself a feminist from a young age, but struggled with how I personally find myself interacting in the ecosystem of activism. As someone who interacts with both STEM and liberal arts, I wanted to find some way to bridge the two together in a way that could positively impact others and be readily accessible for everyone. In the field of gender and sexuality studies, feminism is often second nature if not already incorporated in the studies. In STEM, I find difficulty in finding a clear path to bring feminism in a field that does not readily have a category for it. However, I knew what I was most passionate about which was ultimately becoming a better advocate for those whom are most vulnerable in our society — those who have the least access to resources: queer trans women of color. I wanted to be able to better incorporate feminism into all aspects of my life rather than solely academia through theory. The emphasis of Feminist Camp’s incorporation of feminism in the workplace was most appealing to me as I could see how women interact in a delicate power dynamic and with each other as a support system.
What were your favorite parts of the conference?
My favorite part is the tight-knit community I found in the feminist cohort and the unexpected surprises along the way. The cohort was incredibly supportive and non-judgmental. Even if we were on different pages for certain issues, we came from the universal perspective of love and a desire to truly listen to each other. Something I totally did not anticipate was meeting Ijeoma Oluo and Lindy West! Carly bought us tickets to see Ijeoma Oluo and her brother Ahamefulo Oluo at Seattle’s Town Hall Thursday night. Carly had connections to get us backstage where I could speak with Ijeoma. I was a big fan of her writing prior to this camp so meeting her in person and witnessing her brilliance, wit, and humility unfold before me was an ethereal experience.
Highlight information you learned on reproductive health and reproductive justice:
The Feminist Camp in Seattle did not talk directly about reproductive health and justice. Rather, it was an interdisciplinary discussion. I learned about the role of a doula in reproductive health as an individual who ensures women are fully represented in the ways they desire. For example, we had an abortion doula talk to us. She is an advocate for the pregnant mother and will help mothers in ways from holding their hands to ensuring physicians are accountable for the birth plan they create for the mother. In addition, I have also learned how lobbying and grass root movements, such as NARAL Pro-Choice, have significant impact for women’s health. Victories are small milestones to get us closer to equity and improving life chances for everyone. Although administrative violence may occur, there are means to ensure women who are +100 miles away from a
pharmacy may receive affordable and convenient birth control three months at a time.
Tell us something you learned that you hope to never forget:
Feminist Camp taught me to not undervalue myself as an individual and while cruising through life, having supportive friends along the way eases hardship. It is often very difficult to become the best advocate you can be for yourself, and having a strong support group with other individuals with similar experiences along the way can help you heal mentally and emotionally.
Why should other students attend a Feminist Camp?
Feminist Camp is transformative. I am humbled and inspired everyday by the dedication of both the campers and speakers.
How did this experience help with your future ambitions?
Feminist Camp taught me how it is perfectly okay to be uncertain. Often, we are pressured to know our career path every step of the way but being uncertain is okay. Nonlinear paths are perfectly acceptable if there is a timeline to achieve your dream because a dream without a timeline is just thoughts.
Does this sound like something you might be interested in? Tulane undergraduate students can apply to NCI for funding to attend Feminist Camp. Email Betsy Lopez at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Responses have been lightly edited for length and clarity.