Note from the Editor: This is an article in a series called "Wethersfield Heroes," where our students work to highlight and honor those in our community going above and beyond amidst the tumultuous year. If you know someone that you would like to nominate as a Wethersfield Hero, please contact Mr. Martin at email@example.com.
by: Lorien Touponse and Camila Nobre
As society takes an honest look at its biases and prejudice, a group of young women in Wethersfield High School are working to create change. Feminism club, founded by Veronica McKenna, Ava Heimgartner, and Mia Gugliotti, meets once a month and strives to raise awareness on current issues surrounding women's rights. This is a club suited for anyone who is even remotely interested as Veronica stated, “everyone should be a feminist.”
The girls were adamant in the idea that this club was for everyone, not just women. A club member added, “We get a lot of women because women have experienced it. It is important to remember that anyone can join. We can accomplish more with white men on board. It came about at the right time because with everything going on, we knew we needed to bring recognition to those issues.” And they did just that by creating this inclusive environment in which they discuss all groups of people who identify as women and therefore experience discrimination.
The story of how this club started was quite simple but inspiring. Veronica explained that they had always been feminists and that they would often find themselves ranting about women’s rights. One day it occurred to them that there should be a safe space for people to get together and discuss these important issues and better educate themselves.
Veronica said, “You don’t need a lot of people, but you need an advisor to start the club.” Since her mother is Mrs. Stephanie McKenna, an English teacher at the high school, she approached her with the idea and created this amazing community of people who care about women’s rights. Veronica added that she was surprised that a club like this hadn’t already been created.
This club spends their time looking for solutions and hosting fundraisers to support women. Recently, they organized a collection of feminine hygiene products for My Sister’s Place, a local shelter in Hartford for women and children who have been evicted, subjected to domestic violence, unemployed, have mental illnesses amongst other situations. Visit their website http://sistersplacect.org/support-our-mission/ for more information on how to donate and volunteer.
Articles are frequently posted on their Google Classroom to educate their members about challenges women face in our society. To keep people engaged during this challenging time of remote learning, they lead discussions about these articles and later express their opinions, thoughts, or any concerns.
So far, the Feminism club has gotten a lot of positive attention. Despite the remote learning complications, they have over 95 members. On his last day as Principal of Wethersfield High School, Mr. Moore generously donated $300 to help finance this up and coming club. Mrs. McKenna shared that she has had teachers ask about the club and show their support by donating to their collection drive and asking how they can get involved.
The club founders are encouraging everyone to educate themselves on the fight for feminism. Acknowledging that feminism can take many forms, Ava explained that there are many ways to get involved, “Hop on Google if you don’t want to join the club. Just start caring. Read books, watch videos.” Mrs. McKenna, the club's advisor added, “Be aware of what is happening around you. Are women being ignored? Is there equity here? Are women’s rights being as protected as men’s? There are a lot of challenges we need to overcome as a society.”
When asked why we should care about feminism, the members had a lot to say. Mrs. McKenna pointed out that women’s rights have advanced more than we often think about over the last 50 years. “I was talking to my mother and she didn’t get a credit card because women couldn't open credit cards in the 70s in Connecticut. Laws are changing and they continue to need to change to support women.”
That being said, there is still a great amount of progress that goes unnoticed. One of the club’s topics of discussion was the NCAA tournament, in reference to the disparities between the mens and womens facilities, and how the public did not know about it until someone made a TikTok. One group member added, “When women speak up, they get shut down.”
In a perfect world, the Feminism Club would not have to exist. However, because of the inequities women endure, some of the most amazing women have bounded together to create the beginnings of a powerful organization and work together to help lead the feminist movement.
These pioneers saw a lack of support and created it to better their community. Because of their actions, small steps have already been taken to help women.
If you are interested in getting involved in this club, the class code is: obi2t2k. They also have an instagram where they share posts about current events and club meetings: @WHS_Feminist_Club
Written, edited, and produced by Wethersfield High School students, covering all news and events.