“This was the only reason I left my house today,” said LSA senior Brittany Boyle as she stopped at a table in Mason Hall to write what it means to be a feminist, an annual event sponsored by Lean In to coincide with International Women’s Day.
Engineering junior Sonia Thosar, a member of the Lean In core team that hosted the event, described the organization as a group devoted to forging gender equality on campus.
“Lean In is an organization dedicated to gender parity and gender equality, so it’s not necessarily just female-oriented; it has to do with equality of gender,” she said.
Thosar explained the purpose of the table in Mason Hall was to raise awareness for what it means to be a feminist by having passersby write on whiteboards that had the prompt “I am a feminist because …,” and then posting on social media to spread the message.
“We put this event on to destigmatize the word ‘feminist’ and to show you can take ownership of that word regardless of if you’re a boy or a girl or what you identify as, and to show what the word means to you to the entire campus,” Thosar said.
LSA freshman Deepthi Devireddy, also a member of an engagement team for Lean In, noted how much of a success the event was, specifically noting the men who stopped at the table.
“I think it’s really cool that we get a lot of guys coming to this as well, because I know Lean In is a primarily female organization, so it’s cool to have a lot of guys coming and feeling proud of saying that they are a feminist and giving really good reasons as to why they are,” Devireddy said.
There was a constant flow of people coming and going from the table, Thosar said, allowing the club’s message to spread through campus.
“We take the pictures and put them on social media to send the message that feminism is very multifaceted, and it means a lot to a lot of different people, and it’s not a bad word,” Thosar said.
Boyle, who, after much deliberation, decided to write, “News flash: women don’t exist to please men, stop telling me to smile,” was excited to be part of a movement for International Women’s Day.
“I think this is a really incredible opportunity to explain what life as a woman is like, and the microaggressions that we experience,” Boyle said.
Boyle, who considered boycotting class in honor of “A Day Without a Woman” but ultimately decided against it out of respect to her professor, recognizes the importance of being part of the movement toward gender equality.
“I stand behind the gesture and the overall symbolism of it that women do populate a huge percentage of our work places, and all around the world women are doing work that the world wouldn’t function without, and I think it’s important to recognize that,” Boyle said.
Thosar and Devireddy both recognized the success of the day’s events, acknowledging that it helped bring awareness to campus.
“I think one of the great effects about this, is even if you haven’t ever heard about what ‘feminism’ is, by really putting a human face to it, you start identifying with what it means to different people on campus, so when you see it pop up on social media you see that a feminist is not a specific type of person, it’s everyone,” Thosar said.