Greetings from Arlington, Virginia! I write this from the hotel lobby where hundreds of feminists gathered yesterday to kick off the 2015 National Young Feminist Leadership Conference. I along with 7 other ShoutOut bloggers had the ability to attend this conference and participate in a jam-packed weekend full of workshops, passion-filled speeches, and amazing feminist discussion.
From the start of day one, the energy throughout the conference was the most refreshing and open minded atmosphere we had ever experienced. Consistent reminders about the use of preferred gender pronouns and full identity empowerment made this conference the most inclusive and enlightening environment I had ever been immersed in and allowed everyone’s stories and identities to be completely exposed and accepted.
With workshop titles such as “Students Take On Sexual Assault”, “Queering Your Campus”, “Keep Your Religion Off Our Bodies!”, and “ERA Now! Winning Constitutional Equality”, our group had so many opportunities to hear about and engage in discussions on a variety of topics and issues. A main focal point for the conference was to stress the importance of intersectionality. We were fortunate enough to begin our day with a speech by Kimberle Crenshaw on the significance of the term intersectionality for the feminist movement. Discussions and workshops were facilitated with a main focus on reclaiming intersectionality and always bringing attention to the places where the various roads of our identities cross each other.
At the end of our group’s long, exhausting, feminist-filled day, we all gathered in one hotel room to reflect on and share our favorite aspects of the first day. We all agreed that one of the workshops that we had the most interest in fully understanding was surrounding the topic of sex positivity. The discussion was hosted by a panel of bloggers and advocates for sex positivity including, Natalie Dibo, Ponta Abadi, Bevin Branlandingham, and Sophia Kerby. The panelists touched on topics such as expanding dialogue about sex and sexuality, neutralizing shame about our bodies, and bringing sex positivity to colleges through campus wide policies that promote positive sex ideas and the use of inclusive language.
As the panel continued, we moved to focus on how sex education in the United States could be revolutionized by teaching comprehensive sexual education in high school so that the dialogue on consent can be more knowledgeable by the time students reach college. As students who are constantly reminded about the issue of sexual assault that surround campus environments, we found this aspect of sex education to be particularly interesting. Additional topics within college campus sex positivity included creating safe zones for LGBTQ+ students in health centers, informing professors of preferred gendered pronouns, and a continued culture shift towards a celebration and education of all different kinds of sex.
For more information on day two of the National Young Feminist Leadership Conference, follow @feministcampus and the hashtag #NYFLC2015! Plus don’t forget to check out all our updates at @ShoutOutJMU. Happy feministing!