Author and blogger Courtney Martin spoke to a predominantly female audience in the Alice Haynes Room on Wednesday night about the importance of girls and women taking back their bodies and their lives.
“I think she’s incredibly thoughtful and has so many insights,” said WILL director Holly Blake. “She loves to hear what students are thinking.”
Martin began her talk with the question: “Is the word ‘media’ relevant anymore?” She explained that the term is used so often that it “lures us into lazy thinking.”
“Feministing” is a blog that Martin contributes to, that allows people to engage in conversations about feminism. Her focus for the blog is on democratizing the power of media, rather than changing their structure.
Martin said the message that women and girls got from the media was that they can gain power through sex or through purity. “It says if you objectify yourself before men can, you have power,” Martin said. “Or if you’re a pure and clean woman, you have power.”
Recent Richmond graduate Meghan Paulson said that she thought Martin had been inspiring and enjoyable to listen to. “I liked the seven points of power she had. It’s so unique,” she said.
Though Martin discussed the problems caused by powerful male, “gatekeepers of culture,” she said that they were becoming less and less powerful, as women and girls gained influence.
Martin focused her talk on what she called the bright spots in culture. These spots were examples of female power that were neither sex nor purity.
Her seven points of power included the power of unique style, the power of critical thinking and the power of channeled outrage. “Trust your own outrage,” Martin said. “Focus it on a goal, and make it constructive.”
Martin used specific stories of activism and examples of how women were working toward gaining influence and power to illustrate the seven points.
After the talk, Martin explained her “spark” moment when she had begun seeing the world through a feminist lens and had decided to question what was occurring around her.
“I went to a talk at my college campus, and there were two young, feminist authors,” Martin said. “One of them was wearing fishnet stockings, and I thought she was hot.”
Though she admits this example is shallow and silly, Martin said it had made her understand that she could relate to the appearance of a younger generation of feminists. “I realized intellectually, I agreed with it, but never could really relate until then.”
Senior Alexandra Hackett said she enjoyed Martin’s talk. “I think there are feminist issues that are more important than others,” Hackett said. “Violence against women is something that could bring about a change in laws, while how people look at women is harder to measure.”
Martin stressed to her audience how important it was to not accept “body hating talk” and other negative discussions from friends. “Generally, humor and a lighthearted approach is always the best way,” Martin said. “But, it has to be authentic and organic from you.”
Contact reporter Molly McGrath at firstname.lastname@example.org