Successful Feminists's Event at CHS
by Julia Acquavita, 2018 (posted 3-7-17)
“I was very proud that 100 of our students volunteered to attend the event and that every one of them fully committed to the content and the discussions that followed. I am so proud of them for addressing very serious and adult issues with concern and respect for each other,” says Tina Ocone, leader of the Young Feminists club.
On Wednesday January 25th, Cheshire High School’s Young Feminists Club, led by world language teacher Tina Ocone, took on the task of organizing an event in the CHS library to help raise student’s awareness of the importance of gender equality in our society. Volunteers, such as myself, from all four grades gathered together for a full day of activities geared towards the Young Feminist Club’s mission of showing both male and female students that equality for all is key. Regardless of their gender, age, likes, or dislikes, this event certainly made its mark on the CHS students that took time out of their day to participate in this eye-opening event. After all, this event certainly made its mark on me.
The day first started off with the students and faculty watching a film titled, “The Mask You Live In.” This film followed males as they struggled to stay true to themselves while negotiating America’s narrow definition of masculinity. I was able to learn and comprehend that feminism is not only about helping women gain certain rights, but also helping men gain rights as well, such as staying true to their character and not conforming to the image of what society makes them out to be.
Once the movie ended, the students participated in active discussion regarding their thoughts on the film and the new concepts they had learned. Matt Siegel, a Junior here at CHS, stated “I was pleasantly surprised with the events of the day, especially ‘The Mask You Live In’ movie. I expected the activities to be geared more towards women’s gender roles, but we actually focused a significant amount of time on males, allowing me to learn a lot about myself.” I agree with Siegel in the way that I was also pleasantly surprised with this movie’s message being directed towards young men. It were comments like this that contributed to the many successes of the day.
After watching the informative film “The Mask You Live In,” CHS students then gave their attention to a Ted Talk by Jackson Katz as he discussed sexual and physical violence, and the role they play in the feminist movement. Through thorough discussion, the other students and I examined the points made by Katz and what they absorbed from his intense Ted Talk. However, the highlight of my day was the incredible guest speaker that came to talk to the students. Rose Richi, an advocate for women’s rights and equality, described her journey from sexual abuse as a child to her statutory rape when only a freshman at UCONN. I can honestly say that her story moved me (and I’m sure other students) in the way that she possesses the strength to stand up in front of an audience and tell her painful story. However, her advocacy for gender equality did not go unnoticed as she told her inspirational story. The students showed much interest in her journey as they asked various questions regarding how she managed to get through such a difficult time in her life.
Overall, the day was nothing short of successful in my eyes. This was also true for Madame Ocone, the woman behind all the magic during this event. According to Ocone, when asked if the event went well, she responded saying, “ I do think it went well. I was very proud that 100 of our students volunteered to attend the event and that every one of them fully committed to the content and the discussions that followed. I am so proud of them for addressing very serious and adult issues with concern and respect for each other. I am also proud that they engaged in authentic conversations with new classmates and faculty members alike. Mrs. Wellspeak and Mrs. Flood created an amazing space for us in the library and the administration fully supported us. I am very thankful that all of the people involved contributed so much. It made for a powerful day.” Since this day appeared to be quite the success, Ocone and other Young Feminist Club members hope to organize and design another event like this one to further their message of feminism and gender equity. I can only hope this happens, because I went into this event with the mindset that all topics discussed will be related solely to women; in this case, I am I was wrong. I did not just learn about women’s struggles, instead I was informed about the struggles men face and we must all work together to fight for this gender equality. I leave you with one final question, will you be at the next Young Feminism event? I know I will!