Feminist Club Spotlight: Shattering Glass Ceilings and Covering up Glass Staircases

Members of the Feminist club at the 2020 Women's March in New York. From left to right: Hannah Carter, Maggie Ruvinsky, Sam Berman, Francisca Vivanco, Catie Baer, Paige Baird

Feminist Club Spotlight: Shattering Glass Ceilings and Covering up Glass Staircases

Clubs at King have always been an outlet for students to pursue their interests and passions; the Feminist Club is no exception. Formed in the spring of 2019, the Feminist Club aims to address systemic issues of misogyny both within King and the wider community. Student leaders Paige Baird and Catie Baer initially founded the club, with Sam Berman joining them as a co-president. With the help of club advisors Ms. Lindsey Rossler and Ms. Alexandra Bosee, members of the Feminist Club work to dismantle casual sexism within the school and the world around them.

As members of the student body, Baird and Baer experienced and witnessed many instances of sexism. From the normalization of “boys will be boys,” to groups of students congregating at the bottom of the glass staircase to look up the skirts of individuals walking up the stairs, casual chauvinism could no longer be ignored. “It was so uncomfortable,” said Paige. The duo decided to take matters into their own hands. Feminism was already an important cause to them both, so bringing it to the King community was the next step. “We wanted to create an environment where we'd be able to talk about ourselves and create a smaller community within, one where we would be able to discuss how we've been feeling,” Baird explained. This creation of a safe space became an opportunity for students to voice their opinions on the state of gender equality at King, and to enact change in order to level the playing field for all.

Between spring and fall 2019, the club was temporarily dubbed “the Gender Equality club." This was later changed back to its original moniker of the Feminist Club. “We officially changed it back to the Feminist Club because we really didn't want to make Feminist seem like a dirty word,” says club co-president Sam Berman. They originally changed the name to make it seem more appealing to a wider audience, but doing so took away from the intended purpose of the club. “There's so many misconceptions around what being Feminist is and so many people have this awful misinterpretation that a Feminist is like militant, or crazy, or hates men,” Berman continued, “It's really important that we call it the Feminist club because what we are is Feminists; Feminism just is a synonym of gender equality.”

“We wanted to really change the way that King approaches the idea of Feminism and the idea that women are equal to all genders,” says co-president Catie Baer. In order to alter the way Feminism is perceived, the movement’s name of Feminism must not be excluded. “We're trying to make Feminism a positive word that everybody believes in.” Changing the way people approach the idea of Feminism is a core value of the club.

The main project that the club will take on this year is to cover up the glass on the main staircase, in order to obstruct the view up the skirts of those who are walking up the stairs. “It’s a major symbolic source of inequality at school,” says Berman. Construction paper would be put over the glass as a placeholder for what would become a more permanent solution. Members of the Feminist club tentatively plan to use art in the future to cover the glass staircase. “Hopefully, someday soon, we will be able to put some art on the staircase,” Baer remarked, “so it would become a very positive place to look at.” Pride flags and art pieces dedicated to Feminism and the Black Lives Matter movement are just some of the possibilities pitched by members of the Feminist club to be displayed on the staircase. It appears this symbol of inequality has a future in being a beacon of inclusion and acceptance at King.

The club’s plan of community impact rises beyond the staircase within the Upper School. The Feminist club plans to have a period drive this winter, organized by student leaders Hannah Cosgrove and Milei Wyatt, in which menstrual products will be donated to those in need. In addition to providing these essential resources, the event will raise awareness of menstrual inequality. Plans for a self-defense class have also been discussed as a future event held by the club. The impact that this up and coming student space intends to have on the community should not be ignored.

The Feminist Club was constructed to be an environment for students to share their thoughts on the state of gender equality in the school, and its outreach has broadened to initiate the change that its members want to see. One step at a time, the Feminists of King school are creating a more equal school environment for all.