12th Annual Women’s Conference at CSU goes beyond white feminism

Nicole Towne

Speaking Out, Breaking Out and Redefining served as the day’s theme for the 12th Annual Women’s Conference hosted by the Colorado State University Women and Gender Advocacy Center. The conference, held in the Lory Student Center on Saturday, provided a day of informational sessions presented by students, a keynote speaker and lunch to over 50 individuals of varying identities.

The conference, free of charge and open to the CSU community and beyond, gave participants an opportunity to reflect, engage and learn about feminism as well as issues and experiences unique to women.

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The 11th annual Women’s Conference kicked off Saturday in the LSC. It featured a chosen speaker, a performance piece and sessions surrounding this year’s theme “Speaking Out, Breaking Out, and Redefining.”

“I think (the conference is) about sharing what we are passionate about with each other, sharing our stories and providing space to learn from one another,” said Tiffani Kelly, the assistant director of the Native American Cultural Center at CSU.

The conference sought to provide a variety of perspectives and step out of the exclusive white feminist experience.

Women from the Native American Cultural Center gave a presentation titled “Indigenous Storytelling and Native Women Empowerment,” which discussed the power of storytelling and the power of women in indigenous cultures.

“We don’t always think about how women were an important part of indigenous culture,” said Griselda Landa-Posas, senior fish, wildlife and conservation student.

Junior social work major and women studies minor, Zelle Moore, gave a presentation titled “The Modern Day Colonization of Black Bodies.”

The presentation discussed cultural appropriation and the objectification of black women. This included the appropriation of black hair, hashtags, dialect and terminology.

“The way in which black women talk is … taken and appropriated and used everyday,” Moore said.

The hashtag “squad goals,” which has been used by celebrities such Taylor Swift, served as a term representing unity in the black community, Moore said.

Additional presentations included discussions on masturbation, gender expression, the LGBT+ community, sexism in the workplace, black feminism and more.

CSU students Meaghan Boot and V Bellinger hosted the session The More the Merrier at the 11th annual Women’s Conference Saturday.

The conference’s keynote speaker, Jessica Chavez Salazar, is an attorney specialized in education and is a CSU alumna.

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“The social justice movement has a place for everyone,” Salazar said. “If your style is to be an introvert, that’s okay, and if your style is to go out and rattle the cages, that’s fine too.”

Through the use of personal narrative, Salazar explained how even small actions can have big impacts.

“Speaking out sometimes means just recognizing a person,” Salazar said.

Salazar discussed the importance of contacting government representatives at the state and national level as a way to speak out. She provided a list of resources such as Resistbot, which allows anyone to text “resist” to 50409 to send a letter to their specific representatives via text.

Additionally, Salazar encouraged women to run for public office and cited that women are a minority on state and national governing bodies.

Only 20 percent of representatives in Congress are women and 25 percent at a state level, Salazar said.

“It’s definitely not a representative government,” Salazar said.

The Women’s Conference created a space where students, staff, community members and alumni could come together for a common cause, but each walk away with new personal experiences.

The 11th annual Women’s Conference kicked off Saturday in the LSC. It featured a chosen speaker, a performance piece, and sessions surrounding this year’s theme “Speaking Out, Breaking Out, and Redefining.”

“I’m really happy (the Women’s Conference) happened and that it’s a part of a CSU tradition,” said CSU alumna and community member Mareye Bullock.

Recent CSU graduate Logan Gannon found the conference to be “educational, grounding and empowering.”

Collegian reporter Nicole Towne can be reached at entertainment@collegian.com or on Twitter @nicole_towne21.