On Tuesday March 12th, Sarah Valenti came to the Roanoke College ballroom to talk to students, faculty, and guests about her books supporting feminism and discuss her journey with feminism over the last ten years. The ballroom was full and anticipating the speaker’s arrival. The event was introduced first as the kickoff for the Women’s Forum. The forum is supported by many departments and organizations across campus, including the Sociology Department, the Interfaith council, and the Campus Activities Board. However, the list extended much beyond that and proved that the forum really is supported by all of Roanoke College. Sarah Valenti was introduced by the Philosophy Department’s Dr. Vilhauer, who presented each of the books that were being sold in the back of the room, Full Frontal Feminism, He’s a Stud, She’s a Slut, and The Purity Myth.
The first thing Sarah asked when she took the podium was how many in the audience were feminists, and contrary to some previous Roanoke feminist events, most raised their hands. She said she considered herself one without a doubt, and she had too many reasons to count. “This month,” she said, “I am a feminist because taking photos up a woman’s skirt in Massachusetts is now legal. Because a homeless rape victim was arrested in order to be forced to testify.” She shared a few more reasons, and she said that sometimes it’s more than the big things, it’s the day to day things. Feminists do not always have the best reputation, but what they are doing is important. They may be called â€˜man-haters’ or â€˜feminazis,’ but they are being strong and that is worth the insults.
Sarah Valenti shared that the most important thing that students can do is act. Whether it is coming to forums like these or standing up to a friend who makes a sexist joke, acting is the most important thing someone can do in the cause for feminism. Her reason for coming to events like these, for traveling around to colleges and other speaking engagements is to bring the issue of feminism to the younger generation. This is not something that went away when women got the vote, this is something that still faces all of us today.
After Sarah finished her speech, she took questions from the audience. She was asked about current feminist organizations, and about coming to the idea of feminism without putting people off of the subject. She touched on celebrities like Miley Cyrus and BeyoncÃ© and what they are doing for and against the feminist cause. Social media also plays a part, she said, in the modern feminist struggle. She talked about the pros and cons of slut walks, and she even answered questions on the relationship between feminism and abortion to which she answered, â€˜The rights of people trump the rights of potential people every time.”
Sarah Valenti’s speech was informative, inspiring and powerful. She made a strong case for the importance of feminism today through examples in our culture such as underwear saying “Credit cards aren’t necessary,” or the fact that even today women are being blamed for their own rapes. Feminism is still prevalent today and cannot continue to be ignored.