New Feminists Club Looking to Break Stigmas on Campus
The YU Feminists Club was co-founded this semester by Stern College students Molly Meisels and Ailin Elyasi and has quickly begun making a name for itself.
According to Molly Meisels, the club was established to combat the “lack of gender equality representation … [and to] represent a group of women (and men) who strive for gender equality, may it be in the YU administration, Modern Orthodox Judaism, or in the workplace.”
The club has broad goals; some relate directly to the YU community, while others apply outside Yeshiva University. Ailin Elyasi identified different objectives such as, “creat[ing] a community of feminists at YU who can talk to each other if they feel bothered by some things... [and] hop[ing] to show a vision of Jewish feminists who show a balance of orthodoxy and feminism.”
Meisels expressed disbelief at the amount of time it took for Stern College, an all-female institution, to start a feminist club. With the rise in popularity of women’s marches and feminist political rhetoric, the timing of the Feminists Club’s initiation on campus is apropos to the political climate.
The club’s first official initiative was a mural in response to sexist comments made on their Facebook page, designed to demonstrate that sexism exists even within the YU community.” Clubs at YU have a history of bringing in speakers and hosting panels pertaining to their particular niche, providing an open platform for the YU Feminists to host events in order to further their mission.
Since the club’s creation, both a Facebook and Whatsapp group have been opened, available to all students who wish to take part in this new enterprise. Not all conversation has been friendly, however, with some heated debates taking place within the Whatsapp thread and sexist comments on the Feminist Club’s Facebook link which was shared in YU Marketplace.
Meisels described the misconceptions surrounding feminism today as “striking.”
“Many people will tell me that women have achieved equal rights in this nation long ago,” Meisels reports, “but, equal rights... is about a societal equality. Equality is only a full-fledged equality when the members of a nation believe it to be true, and we have much to work on in that arena. Most feminists are not out to overthrow men and walk around topless in Times Square... The heart and soul of our feminism ...is pure, unabashed equality.”
The club is in its first months of existence and has recently created a leadership board. Elyasi expressed interest in involving other students on campus. “This club is still in an experimental stage, and any suggestion and help is much appreciated.”