Category Archives: Feminist Camp

Feminist Camp

Simran Jain majors in political science and social policy and practice, and minors in gender and sexuality studies. Simran recently attended Feminist Camp, where she was exposed to feminist work beyond her personal experience.

Describe yourself and why you wanted to attend Feminist Camp:

I am a sophomore who is constantly taking classes on the theory behind feminist ideology and movements, but have had limited exposure to feminist work that is being done beyond Tulane’s campus. At Tulane, I am involved in several student groups: Students United for Reproductive Justice (SURJ), Sexual Aggression Peer Hotline and Education (SAPHE), and Undergraduate Student Government, and I feel as though I am fairly well versed in what social activism looks like on our campus. Feminist Camp was an exciting opportunity to expand my knowledge on national and international feminist movements. Making sure that I am always being exposed to new content and having my ideas challenged is core to my activism, and I wanted to attend Feminist Camp as an opportunity to learn and grow, then bring what I learned back to the campus that I love.

What were your favorite parts of the conference?

My favorite parts of the conference were, surprisingly, the times that centered around art. I often consider myself to be much more political than artistic. Most of my activism exists in a political sphere and visual art often goes right over my head. So when I found myself connecting so deeply with the A.I.R. Gallery, a feminist art gallery in Brooklyn, I was shocked. This trend of art continued as we met with the Feminist Press publishing company and Anastasia Higginbotham and learned more about feminist literature, poetry, and children’s books. Viewing all of these forms of alternative activism was the most powerful part of the conference for me, and it was these moments where feminism was brought from the intellectual to the emotional that will stick with me for life.

Highlight information you learned on reproductive health and reproductive justice: 

As an executive board member of Students United for Reproductive Justice for the last two years and an activist for reproductive health and rights, I thought I really had a handle on these topics. I can tell you where your local abortion clinic is, what the laws are in your state in regards to access, what sex education looks like in different school districts, etc., but there was one huge gap in my education. My knowledge of the actual medical procedure of an abortion was so limited. I knew all there was to know about the politics of reproductive rights, but the scientific aspect went right over my head. At Feminist Camp, that gap was filled when I performed an abortion procedure on a papaya at a family planning center in Harlem.

We started the workshop by breaking down common misconceptions about abortions and who is getting them. One in four American women will have an abortion before age 45. 59 percent of people seeking abortions had given birth in the past. 51 percent of people seeking abortions were using a contraceptive method the month that they became pregnant. Learning about all of this was already increasing my knowledge about the state of abortion in America, but the most influential part of the workshop was when we performed an “abortion” on a papaya. After doing the procedure with my own two hands, I left Harlem knowing that I was better equipped to continue my activism.

Having this new found knowledge on the logistics of what an abortion looks like has made me a better, more informed advocate and has offered me a level of compassion and understanding that I did not have before. I hope to bring this papaya workshop to Tulane so that reproductive rights activists, and general student body alike, can experience what the procedure of an abortion looks like and dismantle some of the stigmas and myths surrounding it.

Tell us what you learned that you hope to never forget:

One of the most valuable things that I learned from Feminist Camp was not something that was directly told to us, but rather a trait that was exhibited by so many of the people we met. I learned the power of passion from the coordinators, speakers, and other campers. As we spent a full week constantly engaging with people, the speakers who stuck with me and inspired me the most all had something in common; they were obviously passionate about what they did. As a young adult with many opinions and not a whole lot of life experience, it can often feel as though getting people to listen is an impossible task. But if you really care about something, really love something, those feelings show and the value of that is unparalleled to any formal skill.

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Why should other students attend a Feminist Camp?

I would highly recommend Feminist Camp to all Tulane students interested in social justice! This experience was therapeutic, and rejuvenated my energy and drive to commit myself to feminist work. The people that you meet during Feminist Camp are diverse and inspiring. Feminist Camp offers you the chance to expand your understanding of feminist work being done today, while also making meaningful connections and engaging in professional development for those who hope to bring feminism into their future careers.

How did this experience help with your future ambitions?

Feminist Camp gave us the opportunity to make meaningful personal connections, as well as necessary professional connections. This experience allowed me to network with a purpose and took a huge amount of the stress of networking out of the process. Getting the chance to be face to face with people from the organizations that I hope to someday work at allowed me to solidify my career goals and begin pursuing those goals in an informed manner. I feel much more prepared to take on my professional future thanks to Feminist Camp!

 


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 elopez@tulane.edu for more information.

Responses have been lightly edited for length and clarity.

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Feminist Camp

Alex Nichols is a senior majoring in English, psychology, and gender & sexuality studies, and she’s interested in a career in civil rights law or nonprofit development. Alex also recently attended Feminist Camp.

Describe yourself and why you wanted to attend the Feminist Camp:

After interning with the National Organization for Women – NYC as well as the New Orleans Abortion Fund this past year, I was unsure if I wanted to commit my life to fundraising. I wanted to have a more direct role in fighting systematic oppression, so I began considering going into Civil Rights or Constitutional law. This uncertainty about my future is what pushed me to attend Feminist Camp.

What were your favorite parts of the conference?

Some of my favorite parts of the conference was simply getting to meet so many people in various stages of their lives and careers, but who all cared about feminist issues. While I learned quite a lot from the speakers, I found that even my peers were a terrific source of information and additional perspectives. Of the speakers we met, Rye Young of the Third Wave Fund and Chanel Porchia of Ancient Song pushed me to consider aspects of my feminism that I thought I had a solid understanding of. This was particularly true for nonprofit development and for respecting the agency of marginalized communities. I now feel even more confident of my views and the way in which I want to aid others.

Highlight info you learned on reproductive health and reproductive justice:

Because of the thoroughness of the NCI meetings I attend as part of my reproductive rights internship, I found that I didn’t learn too much in this one area. The visit to Spence-Chapin did offer another angle to approach the subject though. Since I often think of reproductive justice as access to abortion as well as the right to have and raise a child, I overlooked the significance of adoption. I was greatly impressed by the organization’s commitment to informing pregnant individuals of the many options they have outside of adoption.

Detail what you learned that you hope to never forget:

Regardless of the path you end up taking in life, you can always stay true to your values. Getting the chance to meet and hear about women who worked in the government, at nonprofits dedicated to these issues, as well as those who worked in places that could be considered problematic, such as Vice or a corporate law firm. There is an infinite number of ways to be a feminist.

Why should other students attend a Feminist Camp?

Other students should attend Feminist Camp because it was the first time that I was told the skills I’ve gained and the knowledge I’ve learned over these last three years can be applied and even valued in the workforce. Previously, I struggled to see careers beyond academia or non-profit organizations. Now, I recognize there really aren’t any restrictions on my feminism.

How did this experience help with your future ambitions?

I came to Feminist Camp in hopes of determining which of the careers I was considering would fulfill and challenge me. However, it actually made me aware that there are countless other directions I could go in. I’m still unsure of my future, but knowing that there’s always another option has made graduating and picking one career less intimidating.

 


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 elopez@tulane.edu for more information.

Responses have been lightly edited for length and clarity.

Feminist Camp

Jillian Singer majors in political science and minors in psychology and sociology. She’s interested in a career in reproductive healthcare advocacy or legislative affairs, and she recently attended Feminist Camp.

Describe yourself and why you wanted to attend Feminist Camp:

I am a current senior from Chevy Chase, Maryland, just outside of D.C. I plan to enter a career in politics soon, specifically focusing on issues of women’s rights, and I knew that Feminist Camp would be an amazing opportunity to expand my view of social justice work. I wanted to meet female pioneers in the nonprofit and social justice arena, alongside other inspiring young feminists.

Describe your favorite parts of the conference:

My favorite day of Feminist Camp was the “Philanthropy” day. Throughout the day, we met with many women who are engaged in social justice work relating to feminism, and they shared their stories and career paths with us. We had in-depth discussions of our personal values, how our life experiences have shaped those values, and how we aim to incorporate those values into our careers. The most powerful speaker on this day, in my opinion, was Justine Moore. Justine was formerly incarcerated for 16 years and later helped to establish The National Council of Incarcerated and Formerly Incarcerated Women and Girls. She shared her experiences while in prison, and discussed some of the most pressing needs in criminal justice reform. We later met with Lindsey Rosenthal from the Vera Institute, who now works to end the mass incarceration of women and girls. She shared her traumatic experience as a Night Warden at a prison for pregnant teenage girls in Miami. This day, the first day of Feminist Camp, was important in getting me into a self-reflective mindset for the rest of the week.

Highlight information you learned on reproductive health and reproductive justice:

We had the opportunity to perform an “abortion” on a papaya with the Reproductive Health Access Project, meet with a doula from Sister Song, and visit the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health. The papaya abortion was a particularly impactful moment in Feminist Camp, as we were able to see, firsthand, the simplicity of the procedure. We engaged in discussions surrounding common myths about abortion and why/how it should be de-stigmatized. With Chanel Porchia, a doula and the founder of Sister Song, we discussed the beauty of motherhood and the wide range of doula services she offers particularly to low-income immigrants and women of color.

Tell us what you learned that you hope to never forget:

I hope to never lose sight of the importance of listening intently to other peoples’ life experiences, when they choose to share. I was so moved by all of the women we met throughout Feminist Camp – each person shared their path in getting to where they are today, and their own relationship with feminism. Listening to these powerful, successful women, in addition to my peers who each had unique perspectives and experiences to share, was incredibly inspiring. Throughout my professional life, I hope to take every opportunity to listen to others share their stories. There is so much to learn from those around us.

Why should other students attend a Feminist Camp?

Feminist Camp was an unforgettably inspiring, immersive experience in intersectional feminism. I cannot believe how much I learned from my peers, from the leaders of the program (Amy Richards, Jennifer Baumgardner, and Carly Romeo), and from each of the amazing speakers with whom we had the opportunity to meet. Feminist Camp makes you deeply consider what you are passionate about, what your values are, and who you want to be. I am still in disbelief. If you have the opportunity to attend Feminist Camp, DO IT.

How did this experience help with your future ambitions?

I am currently searching for post-graduation jobs, and Feminist Camp put me in the right mindset to deeply consider the impact that I want to make in my career. I am still not exactly sure what I want to do with my life, but Feminist Camp helped me to expand my possibilities. I am so grateful to have had this experience.

 


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 elopez@tulane.edu for more information.

Responses have been lightly edited for length and clarity.

 

 

Feminist Camp: Seattle

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.

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Katy with writer Ijeoma Oluo

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 elopez@tulane.edu for more information.

Responses have been lightly edited for length and clarity.

Feminist Camp: Seattle

Meet Cecily Montgomery! She majors in political science and international development, and just came back from Feminist Camp in Seattle.

Describe yourself and why you wanted to attend Feminist Camp:

I have considered myself a feminist for as long as I can remember but as I’ve moved through different spaces in my life, and have had opportunities to hear new perspectives my understanding of what makes a feminist has deepened. I recently returned from my semester abroad in Buenos Aires, Argentina, a city with a robust feminist movement. During my time there I attended two different women’s marches, both of which were massive and allowed me to see how feminist movements can be different around the world, depending on the needs of women in that place. I was eager to continue this learning and feminist camp was the perfect opportunity to do so.

What were your favorite parts of the conference?

The speaker that was most interesting to me was a lobbyist who advocated for union rights at Washington State’s capitol building in Olympia. As someone who is very interested in the political world it was both sad to hear about the challenges specific to women in that field but also inspiring to learn how she navigates them with such poise and expertise.

The friendships that I made on this program were another aspect of it that made this program amazing. Although we were only together for one week, by the end of it I felt extremely comfortable with each and every one of them. Campers of all ages and diverse backgrounds attended, and each one of them brought important perspectives and experiences. The program coordinators were truly amazing and very knowledgeable. It was clear that a lot of time and effort had gone into planning this week.

Highlight information you learned on reproductive health and reproductive justice:   

During Feminist Camp we met two different women from different pro-choice organizations. The first one was NARAL pro-choice Washington that works to both get pro-choice candidates elected as well as pass pro-choice legislation. Speaking to her was very interesting to me as a political science major because it showed me major challenges associated with passing legislation geared towards reproductive health. It also allowed me to ask questions about the best way to pursue a career in policy advocacy.

The other session we had geared towards reproductive justice was with a member of the board of directors of the CAIR project. This organization is a fund that helps women get abortions who otherwise wouldn’t be able to afford it or have a way to access it. Seeing how one non-profit that is geared towards affecting policy works with another one that works directly with women showed me all the different effort needed to help women get the care they need.

Detail what you learned that you hope to never forget:

Having the opportunity to speak with successful women from array of different fields showed me how to make myself stand out in professional settings. One thing that I frequently struggle with is standing up for myself or making sure that I am listened to. Having conversations about things such as salary negation or making your voice heard in male dominated spaces showed how I can be a better self advocate.

Why should other students attend a Feminist Camp: 

There are so many important things to learn from Feminist Camp, it’s hard to think of a reason not to attend! One of the best things I gained from it was an incredible new community. Some of the people I attended camp with also live in New Orleans, giving me a new community of like-minded individuals to have here now that I have returned. In a world dominated by the patriarchy, women are often not taught or encouraged to speak up or display too much confidence. Even in the course of just one week, I watched both myself and the other campers grow in our self confidence and willingness to have a voice.

How did this experience help with your future ambitions?

As I said above, one of the most important parts of the conference was learning how to be a good self advocate which can apply to many areas of life but definitely applies to career goals. With just one year left of college I now know how to better make myself stand out to potential employers and speak up when I need something. It also showed my how it is possible to include feminism in my career be in my advocating for policy that helps women or just being supportive towards the women that I work with and making sure their voices are heard.


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 elopez@tulane.edu for more information.

Responses have been lightly edited for length and clarity.

Feminist Camp: NYC

Meet Maria Gomez! She majors in cell and molecular biology and French, and wants to be an OB-GYN. She also just came back from Feminist Camp; read about her experience below:

Describe yourself and why you wanted to attend the Feminist Camp:

As a woman in STEM, I can often see the disparity that exists between men and women in these fields. When watching conferences or reading research papers, the pervasiveness of sexism in scientific academia is evident. When volunteering at the emergency department, I have seen patients refuse female doctors. However, despite being greatly affected, women in these fields often have neither the formal background nor the resources to combat this prejudice. I wanted to attend Feminist Camp in order to be better equipped to deal with these situations in my future career and to remove some of the obstacles that stand in the way of female scientists, primarily for women of color.

What were your favorite parts of the conference?

From the moment I arrived in NYC to the moment I left, I absolutely loved every part of Feminist Camp.  I was fortunate to visit Vice’s office, to watch a live taping of Democracy Now!, to view the Dinner Party exhibit in the Brooklyn Museum and to have a mini-internship at Planned Parenthood, among many other fantastic opportunities. However, the magic of the whole experience is probably best encapsulated by the afternoon spent in Gloria Steinem’s house listening to Chanel from Ancient Song Doulas. Hearing her speak about reproductive justice, how it encompasses a wide variety of choices, and how it is often not accessible to women of color or gender non-conforming individuals was truly inspiring. As an aspiring OB-GYN, I found her mission to be in direct agreement with what I want to do with my life. She showed me how to integrate my passions in a concrete manner as I seek to advocate for the dignity of women through their healthcare and personal choices.

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Maria with fellow Tulane student, Reva.

 

Highlight any information you learned about reproductive health and reproductive justice:

During the day dedicated to reproductive justice, I was able to truly experience the entire gamut of choices that women have. I visited an adoption agency and learned how they offer support and counseling to the pregnant person so that they can best choose what to do with their future. I learned how to perform an abortion on a papaya, a fruit often used during training due to its similarity in shape to the uterus.  We dispelled myths about abortion and were taught how important, yet rare abortion training is for physicians. We also heard from full spectrum doulas, who provide emotional support during adoption, abortion, birth, etc. All these experiences helped to strengthen the beautiful definition of reproductive justice, described by SisterSong as “the human right to maintain personal bodily autonomy, have children, not have children, and parent the children we have in safe and sustainable communities.”

Detail what you learned that you hope to never forget:

This week was a transformative experience that helped me to learn about the strides we have made and the obstacles we still need to remove to influence philanthropy, the career world, reproductive justice, the media, and art as women. I met incredible individuals with powerful stories and missions. However, the most tangible lesson I learned was the strength and power that we have to create change and impact the world as women. With the current administration, it is easy to feel hopeless and defeated when seeing the advances made threatened by politicians. I hope I never forget to be inspired by our strength and the promises that our future has. This will only be possible if we fight together and advocate for our rights and those of other underprivileged communities.

Why should other students attend a Feminist Camp:

Feminist Camp is an invaluable opportunity for anyone interested in promoting women’s rights and serving as an ally for communities whose voices might often be ignored. I believe that spending this week with such a variety of hosts and fellow campers is an eye opening experience that brings a spotlight to our interests, privileges, and shortcomings. As a whole, Feminist Camp helps to narrow and specify our goals as activists while connecting us with organizations and individuals that can support and strengthen our missions.

How did this experience help with your future ambitions?

As I previously mentioned, Feminist Camp helped to motivate and guide me in navigating my future as both an aspiring medicine student and as an advocate for women’s rights. More importantly, it gave me the tools to integrate both of these aspects into a concise mission. After this week, I am more certain than ever of my future career path, and I have been connected with incredible individuals and organizations who can help me promote these goals. Personally, I’m looking forward to working with the local Planned Parenthood and the local chapter of the National Council for Formerly Incarcerated Women and Girls to continue my activism. After all, it is important to take advantage of tools given throughout Feminist Camp and to actively seek the changes that we want to see in society.

 


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 elopez@tulane.edu for more information.

Responses have been lightly edited for length and clarity.

 

Feminist Camp: NYC

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Meet Reva Resstack! She’s majoring in economics and international development, and recently attended Feminist Camp in New York City, with help from a grant from NCI.

Describe yourself and why you wanted to attend Feminist Camp:

I’m studying economics and international development, and am soon entering the professional field! One of the themes of this year’s Feminist Camp was Feminist Philanthropy. After having worked for the Salvadoran NGO International Partners for some years, I was interested in learning more about my place as a white woman working for an international NGO that attempts to empower people to empower themselves. I wanted to learn how to introduce a feminist framework to this ideology of empowering development in my future line of work.

What were your favorite parts of the conference?

I loved going to visit Democracy Now, which was certainly an inspiring experience. We met with Amy Goodman, who is a wonderful role model to me. I also very much enjoyed getting to hear from Justine Moore on her experiences being incarcerated and how she introduced feminism in her work in all-women prison. The discussion with all the campers was fantastic, as well, as everyone was coming from a variety of backgrounds, geographic regions, and identities. I really loved listening to my fellow campers, too.

Highlight information you learned on reproductive health and reproductive justice:

I very much enjoyed getting to meet Merle Hoffman, who founded the Choices Medical Center. Choices Medical Center is a wonderful reproductive health clinic. They offer a wide range of services that allows many women to get prenatal care, abortions, postnatal care, and even therapy for the surrounding community.  We were shown a specimen in the clinic, as well, and that was fascinating. It’s smaller than an M&M!

Tell us what you learned that you hope to never forget:

I hope to never forget the passion that was in everyone both attending Feminist Camp and presenting to us as leaders of incredible feminist organizations. Everyone was determined to make sure they lived their lives as feminists, supporting one another to be the best they could be in a loving, understanding manner, and that I hope I carry with me for life.

Why should other students attend Feminist Camp?

Feminist Camp introduced me to people working at wonderful feminist organizations, including the Feminist Press, the Sadie Nash Leadership Project, Planned Parenthood, and the Women & Justice Project. Making those connections were invaluable. But I also got to meet a bunch of wonderful campers. Hearing both the women’s stories who started these powerful and feminist organizations and the people’s stories who came as campers was probably the most wonderful part of Feminist Camp. That was incredibly motivational.

How did this experience help with your future ambitions?

This experience helped shape how I want to implement sustainable development efforts. By taking in a feminist framework and supporting whoever I can with an emphasis on women’s capabilities in developing countries, my future ambitions will be served. While I still don’t know what I want to do, I now know that in whatever I may do, those acting with a feminist framework will be best uplifted, supported, and empowered in their efforts.

 


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 elopez@tulane.edu for more information.

Responses have been lightly edited for length and clarity.

 

Feminist Camp: Seattle

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Meet Tina Nguyen! She’s a gender and sexuality studies major with an interest in developing a career in the OBGYN field. She also just got back from Feminist Camp in Seattle, thanks to a grant from NCI.

Describe yourself and why you wanted to attend Feminist Camp:

I have considered myself to be a feminist from a young age, and yet, in college, I found myself still struggling to define feminism. I knew that there was no hard and fast definition, but I wanted to develop my own sense of feminism and understand how it could inform my life.  I wanted to go to Feminist Camp because I believed that it would allow me to learn from other like-minded individuals about their feminism and how they use their feminism in their everyday lives. I was also intrigued that Feminist Camp placed a lot of emphasis on feminist career and professional development. I didn’t quite understand what that meant as it was advertised to me, but it sounded like the opportunity that I was searching for. I major in gender and sexuality studies here at Tulane, but my goal is to go to medical school to become a gynecologist and obstetrician. As someone heading into the medical field, I am always anxious that I won’t be able to engage in feminism in the same way as I have done in college, and I was hoping that this program would give me the proper skills necessary to carry my feminist ideals with me in my many endeavors to come.

What were your favorite parts of the conference?

There was so much that I loved about this conference, but first and foremost, my favorite part about Feminist Camp is the community that I was able to be a part of. From the program director, to the site coordinators, to the campers themselves, I felt that over the course of five short days, we were able to build and sustain a close-knit community that felt comfortable. This type of instant friendship and community is rare, and I feel fortunate to have been able to contribute and learn. This small group of women were supportive and respectful, enabling every member of the group to show their vulnerability and express their strengths. I learned so much simply through the exchange of stories and life experiences with these incredible women.

Feminist Camp cannot be classified as a conference or a program, because its non-traditional approach is what makes this experience special. The speakers who shared their experiences were able to speak from a deeply personal place, and part of that is due to the small size of the group. Each talk was very tailored to the needs of the group and every speaker worked to tackle some of the biggest questions that we had. One of the most unexpected portions of this week was getting to spend a day at a major video game studio called Bungie. We started the day at the studio with a panel speaking to the women who worked there, and it was fascinating to learn about their struggles in a field where I did not even expect to find feminism at all. The work that they do to change the status quo in the gaming industry is inspiring, and it’s encouraging to know that progress is being made.

Lastly, I loved getting to know Seattle over the course of my week at Feminist Camp. Surprisingly, the weather was more than beautiful, and the group was able to bond outside of camp hours by exploring Seattle’s various neighborhoods and soaking in everything the city had to offer. We were able to fall in love with the city, while at the same time learning about the problems that Seattle faces. It seemed that Seattle was in on our Feminist Camp program, and I found that everything from restaurants to bauble shops embodied the feminist values that we spent all week speaking about. Seattle’s Town Hall hosts many talks, and we were lucky enough to attend a talk by Ijeoma Oluo, who wrote a viral article on Rachel Dolezal, and her brother, Ahamefule Oluo, renowned musician and comedian. This talk was completely unplanned on our part, but the themes spoken about addressed the issues that we had been discussing in our camp sessions. Later that same night, we met Lindy West, notable for her writing in Jezebel and The Guardian, and fellow feminist. It was these unplanned happenings that proved that Seattle was the perfect location for Feminist Camp.

Tell us something you learned on reproductive health and reproductive justice:

This program was not particularly centered on reproductive health and reproductive justice; however our first day of sessions was geared towards reproductive justice. One of the first speakers that we heard from was from NARAL Pro-Choice Washington, and she told us a story that spoke volumes about the stigma that surrounds abortion. As a young woman, this speaker was asked to be on an MTV special that featured women who had gone through an abortion, but since she was not showing enough remorse, the show host harassed her on television in the effort to make her cry for ratings. This horrible experience enabled her to jumpstart a career in the fight for reproductive justice, and her main mode for doing so is through storytelling. What I took away from this experience was that the fight for reproductive justice is deeply personal. Women’s health and reproductive justice issues are often framed as these overly political problems, and the truth of the matter is, these issues affect people on an individual level and their voices are the most important.     

Detail what you learned that you hope to never forget:

While the speakers that we heard from were from all different professional backgrounds, they all touched on a couple of themes that threaded their sessions together. One piece of advice was to learn how to recognize your own self-worth. Even incredible women who are experts in their field have a hard time believing in their own worth. Many of these leaders asked us to believe in ourselves and our own abilities because that will enable us to demand what is rightfully ours. One speaker particularly told us to value our time. I find myself giving away my time very willingly in an effort to feel useful, but she asked us to value the time and energy that we put into projects. Sharing your expertise, energy, or time should not be for free. This same speaker asked us to view ourselves as resources. It is so easy to look at another person and see what they can offer you, but very hard to figure out what you have to offer.

Another piece of advice that stuck with me was the concept that your input should equal the output. For every project, personal or professional, if you put in time and energy, the output should be equal to that.  So often, women will put in so much emotional and physical work and the payoff does not adequately compensate for that work. Establishing this output/input equilibrium has allowed many successful women to find a career path that is fulfilling and which enables them to do meaningful work.

After this week, I have so much more confidence in how feminism is going to play a role in my future career. One of the easiest ways to incorporate feminism into everyday life is to support other women. Women supporting women and building that network was another common thread among the many speakers that we heard from. Giving everyone the space that they need to grow and succeed is very important feminist work, and I hope that I can bring that philosophy with me to Tulane and beyond. The reason that we were able to speak to so many wise and successful women on this trip was because they have built a feminist network with each other. Many of them had come into contact with each other before regardless of the fact that their careers were drastically different due to the fact that each person we spoke to goes out of their way to support women doing good work in their city.

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Why should other students attend Feminist Camp?

I might still be in the conference afterglow, but I think that anyone who is interested even remotely should try to attend Feminist Camp because it was an impactful experience. The past year has been very rough with the recent presidential election and a news cycle that always seems to be full of negatives. Feminist Camp reminded me that there are people who think just like me and who are actively working to change the status quo. Also, at the point in my life where my future feels very up in the air, it was reassuring to hear from successful women that life is not linear, and that it’s fine to make mistakes and take unexpected turns. It might sound cheesy, but students should go to Feminist Camp to be inspired. If anything, you’ll leave camp with a brand new network and reliable friends. I feel grateful that I have a community like NCI at Tulane, but many of the other campers felt like outsiders on their campuses and in their lives. Feminist Camp gave us a chance to dig deep into feminism and learn how to embody it in our work.

How did this experience help with your future ambitions?

I’ve already hit on most of the professional advice that I received above, but this week has really solidified my desire to become a doctor. I believe that I can make a change in the medical field where so often women, non-binary folks, people of color, among so many others are not taken seriously. People ask me all of the time why I want to be a doctor, and my answer to that is that I want to support women. As someone who wants to be an OBGYN, I see this field as my space to embody the idea of women supporting women. Camp has made me more passionate and excited as ever to move forward in my career.

 


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 elopez@tulane.edu for more information.

Responses have been lightly edited for length and clarity.

 

Feminist Camp

Meet Siena Farrar!  She is a senior and is an NCI Reproductive Rights and Reproductive Health Intern.

Describe yourself and why you wanted to attend the Feminist Camp:

I have been a self-identified feminist from a young age, and grew up surrounded by courageous and interesting women. I continued learning about intersectional feminism throughout college. I wanted to meet other like-minded individuals and learn from professionals about what a future in a progressive field would look like.

Describe your favorite parts of the conference:

I think my favorite part was the sense of security I gained for my future. As a second semester senior, I was anxious about what life after college would look like. I felt like I was in the famous scene in The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath, where the main character stands before a fig tree and sees all the branches of her life. When she goes to pluck one, the rest whither away. After going to this camp and meeting people with such wildly varied careers, choices, and passions, sometimes all in one lifetime, I understand that I also have just as many opportunities and choices. A tree doesn’t die when you pick its fruit. It just makes more.

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Highlight information you learned on reproductive health and reproductive justice:

I learned about so many aspects of reproductive health and justice outside of abortion. I enjoyed speaking to a member of the Doula Project, who inspired me to get doula certification. I also enjoyed speaking to a social worker from Spence-Chaplain, an adoption agency. She enjoyed her work and helped me gain a deeper understanding of an area of reproductive justice that is often overlooked.

Detail what you learned that you hope to never forget:

I hope to never forget that failure and success go hand in hand. It is okay to fail as long as you continue trying to succeed.

Why should other students attend a Feminist Camp:

It was a wonderful experience. Seeing someone I met in a documentary later that month really highlighted what an opportunity this was to meet successful professionals in varied careers.


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 elopez@tulane.edu for more information.

Responses have been lightly edited for length and clarity.

Feminist Camp

Meet Caroline Lutkewitte!  She is a senior majoring in Public Health and Environmental Science and is interested in working for a non-profit.

Describe yourself and why you wanted to attend the Feminist Camp:

As the founder and president of the Feminist Alliance of Students at Tulane, I was excited to connect with other feminist campus leaders. I also wanted to understand how feminist values and passions can translate to the work environment.

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Describe your favorite parts of the conference:

My favorite part of the conference was exploring New York City while also getting to meet the most inspiring feminists in their fields. It gave me a very concrete understanding of what a career can look like in social justice. My favorite event was a panel discussion by the Crunk Feminist Collection, which challenged my notions of intersectional feminism.

Highlight information you learned on reproductive health and reproductive justice:

Reproductive health expands beyond abortion access to include contraceptive access and maternal health. Hundreds of mothers unnecessarily die in the United States due to birth complications and we could be doing much better at taking care of our women. In addition, mothers should have more choices and autonomy in the choices they make surrounding birth, including location, presence of a doula, and necessity of a caesarean.

 

Detail what you learned that you hope to never forget:

Brittany Cooper of the Crunk Feminist Collection said that feminism is not a religion. We are not searching perfection in our feminism, but rather a feminism that reflects our everyday life experiences

Why should other students attend a Feminist Camp:

Students should attend camp to be exposed to many different facets of a feminist career. It will expand your idea of what a traditional career path “has” to look like. Lastly, it’s a great way to meet like-minded individuals, while also challenging yourself.


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 elopez@tulane.edu for more information.

Responses have been lightly edited for length and clarity.