Student Leader Strives for Gender Equality

Photo Credit/ Ayanna Totten
Senior, Hannah Bennink is a feminist and student activist that is fighting for gender equality.

Ayanna Totten

Staff Writer

Elected as president of the Feminist Alliance in spring 2018, senior Hannah Bennink is using her platform to support the fight for equality.  

“I’m passionate about feminism and politics, and I thought this [the Feminist Alliance] would give me a chance to further my knowledge on the topic, as well as find more people that believe in the same things as me,” said Bennink. 

Last summer, she had the opportunity to complete an internship at the United Nations and work on women’s sexual and reproductive health rights. The experience motivated her to not only share what she learned but maximize the Feminist Alliance’s initiatives.  

The Feminist Alliance aims to support gender equality and increase awareness about women’s issues. Recognizing the widespread need for social change among all genders, the organization also focuses on body image, sexual assault and domestic violence. 

According to Bennink, popular misconceptions about feminism have made educating others a priority as well.  

“The most prominent stigma surrounding feminism is that feminists hate men,” said Bennink. “Feminism aims to gain equality for all, not some.” 

Citing a formal definition, Bennink explained that feminism is comprised of multiple political and social movements united under the common goal of gender equality in all societal spheres. 

The Feminist Alliance has had a productive semester thus far. The organization recently attended the National Young Feminist Leadership Conference in Washington, D.C. from March 9-11. They plan on inviting one of the conference’s guest speakers to campus to discuss the treatment of women in correctional facilities. 

The Women’s Expo, which allowed campus clubs to highlight women in their fields, was also organized by the Feminist Alliance. Later that evening, they presented the Women’s History Month Keynote speaker from Kutztown University to speak about female violence in films.  

Despite budget problems, Bennink is proud that membership and involvement have increased. At the end of 2018, the only consistent members were the four students on the E-board. The Feminist Alliance now has 15 members who attend their weekly discussions. 

Like a true leader, Bennink emphasized that none of the Feminist Alliance’s accomplishments are solely hers. 

“The biggest lesson I’ve learned about leadership is that people won’t know you need help unless you ask. Trying to do everything on your own isn’t good for yourself or the club,” she said. 

Furthermore, Bennink believes one of the biggest hinderances to the feminist movement is that women often view each other as enemies.  

“It’s a waste of energy…when we focus on tearing each other down instead of building each other up,” said Bennink.  

She understands that under the current administration, unity is more important than ever. Without a strong and intersectional feminist presence, women’s equality and progress will be virtually reversed. 

“The office with the highest power in the country is misogynistic and patriarchal even though women have proved time and time again they are no less deserving of rights than their male counterparts,” said Bennink. “The same goes with minorities and the LGBTQ+ community.” 

In addition to more female representation in government, Bennink stated the next chapter of women’s history requires equality and education to start in the home. 

“By not accepting the hateful rhetoric that comes with sexism, racism, homophobia, transphobia, Islamophobia, etc., there will be no place left for intolerance,” she said.  

Students can join the Feminist Alliance by requesting the organization on Warrior Link. They meet every Tuesday from 2-3 p.m. in the Gender and Sexuality Center on the ground floor of the University Center.  

Email Ayanna at: 

atotten@live.esu.edu

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