Are Advocates Spooky?

Posted by Elika Nassirinia, Advocate

Feminism is a complex word, one that both divides and unites, empowers and alienates. The topic of the “Are Advocates Spooky” talk was chosen specifically to address how feminism is viewed, both in campus culture as well as larger society. During the talk, the question of what it is about feminism that elicits such strong reactions from people, whether positive or negative, was discussed. Why do so many people refrain from identifying as feminists, in spite of sharing ideals of equality and human justice that are very much in line with feminism? Why do feminists continue to be thought of as angry, man-hating, bra-burning women? Should the word “feminist” be replaced by “humanist” to better communicate the message behind the movement, or is opposition to the word “feminist” part of the larger problem of patriarchy the movement works against?

In addition to discussing feminism, attitudes towards Advocates on campus were discussed. Because of the nature of their work, Advocates are sometimes viewed as “anti-party” or “anti-fun,” making the group intimidating. Another common theme throughout the talk was that the role of Advocates outside of direct survivor support remains unclear to some students. While Advocates do provide direct survivor support, another goal of the organization is to create a safer campus atmosphere for all individuals by holding events that raise awareness about rape culture and sexual violence. Advocates hold supporters project trainings in order to provide students with information that will allow them to support a survivor should a survivor disclose to them. Advocates also hold talks, usually on Tuesdays and Wednesdays beginning at 9 pm, about a number of different issues, such as sex education or intersectionality, and all individuals are welcome to participate in the talks and share their opinions. These talks often involve collaborations with different student groups on campus to ensure that a wide range of perspectives are represented. Other events put together by Pomona Advocates, often in collaboration with different student groups, are the Take Back the Night march and the Clothesline Project, as well as bringing different speakers to campus to discuss issues relating to sexual violence.