Being the President of Her Campus UConn this year has been transformative. Once I reached the top of this mountain, I was looking directly into the eyes of everyone who looked back at it. While there are several people who are supportive and encouraging of Her Campus and media brands like it, there are just as many who aren’t.
I was taught to “write only what people need to know,” emphasis on the word “need.” I’ve heard people say that there are “only so many women’s issues” to be written about, and that there’s “only so much” you can say about “coconut oil and floral prints.” I’ve heard people ask me “what about His Campus?” and I’ve looked people in the eye, from the top of my mountain, as they dismissed my experience as a leader of a strong group of women (and one very cool man, by the way), likely because of the emphasis on the experience of womanhood that Her Campus champions.
I typically respond that the entire campus is “His Campus” and that everybody needs something to read, be it about polka dots or politics. That’s the short answer- but the longer answer is less sexy.
Her Campus is a media brand that tells young women, from high school through their twenties, that their voices are important enough to be published and proliferated, that their ideas are exciting, that their words are valuable and their efforts are seen. It is a young woman’s introduction to the world. Here, we give young women a megaphone, and we demand that they use it. Everybody has something to say, polka dots or politics, and it is important enough to be heard.
We never ask the typical boy’s clubs to stop writing. We’re not constantly asking the people at ESPN whether or not they feel it’s wise to continue talking about sports while there are “just so many more important things happening right now,” and we don’t wonder why music writers “can’t stop focusing on the trivial.”
It bothered me for a long time, and I used to go as far as to beg the girls who write here to write about the “important stuff.” I was pandering to an audience that devalued women in the first place. The amount of implicit sexism a woman has to break down to allow herself to write about something not explicitly deemed important by society at large and then share it is staggering. Any woman strong and powerful enough to do it deserves a hearty pat on the back, and I would know, because I still remember my first time. I will always have respect for that.
So to every girl in Her Campus and those who blog on their own, never retire your megaphone. When you’re at the top of your mountain, don’t be shocked when people still look past you. If you have a message, you owe it to yourself to send it out into the world. Don’t apologize, don’t use qualifiers when telling someone your ideas and don’t be afraid to pat yourself on the back. Most of all, when you one day reach the top of your mountain, don’t be afraid to pull some of your girl gang up there with you.