**Disclaimer: For the purpose of this article, “women/woman” will be written as “womxn,” a newer, more inclusive spelling that further separates womxn from men.**
When I think about feminism, empowering womxn, and everything else that Her Campus stands for, it is impossible for me to not think about one of my good friends, Jen Dahms. I met Jen during a social psychology class we both took during the first semester of our freshman year. Throughout our college experiences together, I have been able to get to know her better and I have really learned how much of a wonderful person she is. Jen loves going to school in Chicago for all of the opportunities in the area. There are plenty of opportunities in social justice and community service, and she loves and appreciates the different cultures all over the city. Jen is always sharing articles and inspirational quotes on Facebook, retweeting major feminists, as her Twitter bio simply reads “girls rule.” If there is anyone that can reassure you that girls rule, it’s Jen.
Jen is a junior social work major here at Loyola, and she hopes to one day work in a therapeutic elementary school as an occupational therapist for young students with disabilities. Jen has the opportunity to job shadow at Athletico, a physical/occupational therapy office in Evanston, IL. She also job shadows and observes occupational therapists at various elementary schools in the area, in order to gain valuable exposure to her future career, she said. Jen works at the United Church of Rogers Park at their afterschool program. This program is focused on providing a meaningful, safe and impactful afterschool experience for at-risk youth in the area. Jen told me that she sees the young boys that she looks after at the church making unnecessary comments or bullying the girls, so she told me she likes to pull them aside to constructively “break it up.” Jen said it’s best to catch sexism early on, while they are young, so they do not continue to bully and oppress girls and womxn as they grow up. She thinks it is important to hold the boys accountable for their actions, because she encourages boys and girls to support each other and view each other as equals.
Going along with that, I asked Jen what feminism means to her. The first thing that she mentioned was that it is intersectional, and we should include all that identify as womxn. This can include, but is not limited to, queer people, people of color and disabled people.
“If feminism doesn’t include everyone, there is no point,” Jen told me.
Jen said it is important to support and uplift other womxn and compliment others, even if it just regarding small things. It’s always great to say something to someone and empower them, even if you do not know them. Jen recalled a lot of “slut-shaming” and bullying that went on in her high school. Before coming to college, she admits that she did not really know much about feminism. She looks back and sees a toxic, ignorant environment. College changed this feeling for her, and for the better, too. Jen told me about this quote that she loves to live by now:
“If all girls were taught how to love each other fiercely instead of how to compete with each other and hate their own bodies, what a different and beautiful world we would live in” -Nikita Gill
“We’re already getting oppressed by men… why oppress other womxn?” Jen asked me.
This quote definitely important to consider and certainly sheds some light on some issues in society today. Jen made a very good point that empowering others, in turn, is a way to empower yourself. Why not spread positivity and impact others through empowerment? Why not speak up for womxn? She also told me how it is vital that we praise womxn and stand up for womxn in other areas besides beauty, like intelligence and strength. Jen was a member of the Women in Leadership Loyola organization on campus and ultimately believes this is what pushed her to be a “social justice warrior.”
I am in the service organization, Alpha Phi Omega, here on campus with her. And this semester, she is serving as one of the two pledge masters for our new pledge class! APO is just one other way for Jen to empower others, explore Chicago and give back to the community.
Lastly, Jen has another super cool job. She works with an entertainment company as a princess! She dresses up and puts makeup on like all of our favorite Disney princesses, and sings/performs at birthday parties and other events. She teaches the children at these events how to dance, tells them stories and plays games with them, and poses for some wonderful pictures. Check them out below.
(Jen Dahms, pictured left in both photos above.)
If you see Jen on campus, say hello! She is one of the friendliest people I know, and I am so glad that I know her. Her positive spirit and strong will (along with her contagious smile and laugh!) will get her to so many wonderful places in life that she certainly deserves.