A bestselling author and Guardian columnist spoke about the current importance of feminism, specifically in the context of the Trump administration, during a talk Wednesday night.
More than 400 students, faculty members, staff and community members attended Jessica Valenti's presentation, titled “Why Feminism (Still) Matters,” on Feb. 21 in the Jepson Alumni Center. It was the fifth talk featured in the 2017-2018 Jepson Leadership Forum.
Valenti’s speech covered feminism and how it is still relevant today, including her personal reasons to become a feminist, the modern implication of feminism, the Trump administration and the importance of focusing on marginalized groups.
The first half of her presentation was dedicated to her speech and followed by questions from audience members.
Valenti addressed the relationship between Ivanka Trump and her father, President Donald Trump. Despite Ivanka’s continued push to persuade others that her father believes in equal rights for women, Ivanka is both a victim and a enabler, Valenti said.
Valenti cited the time Trump had supposedly walked in on his daughter and a Miss Teen USA beauty pageant contestant while they were changing. The contestant reportedly mentioned something to Ivanka, who replied, "Yeah, he does that."
The sentiment of “Yeah, he does that,” was echoed throughout the rest of Valenti’s presentation. This complacent mentality tends to be the root of misogyny, Valenti said.
Valenti read a excerpt from her newest book, a memoir titled “Sex Object,” which discussed her experiences growing up and including stories of sexual violence from her grandmother, mother and Valenti herself.
Audience members asked questions about various topics ranging from the stigma of feminism and women in the military to suggestions for a university, intersectionality and family values.
Mark Guncheon, who lives and works in the Richmond area, attended the event. Guncheon has been a feminist for a long time and helped march in support of the Equal Rights Amendment in the 1970s, he said.
It was disheartening to listen to Valenti's stories, Guncheon said.
“I think it would be a better world if there were more feminists,” Guncheon said. "Here we are in 2018 and this is still going on. But to hear her say that young people get it, that makes me feel good. When I was growing up, young people didn’t get it."
Britnie Hopkins, sexual misconduct education and prevention coordinator, said she appreciated that Valenti spent a lot of time answering questions from the audience and hearing their concerns.
The active and engaged audience was also a highlight for Valenti.
“I thought this crowd was great," Valenti said. "It was a lot of active engagement and a lot of really smart questions, which is always really nice. It was nice to see so many folks from the community, not just the school.”
Contact contributor Meredith Scroggin at firstname.lastname@example.org.