“He’s a Stud, She’s a Slut…and 49 Other Double Standards Every Woman Should Know.” “Full Frontal Feminism: A Young Woman’s Guide to Why Feminism Matters.” “The Purity Myth: How America’s Obsession With Virginity is Hurting Young Women.”
The titles alone of feminist author and founder of the popular website Feministing.com Jessica Valenti’s three books speak volumes about her passion for feminism and desire to convey a positive message to young women in a witty, humorous, matter-of-fact way.
On Tuesday, Feb. 9 at 8 p.m. in the Oak Room, Valenti will deliver her message to Fairfield students. Her lecture, “The ‘F’ Word and How it Applies to You,” is free and open to all, and is sponsored by the Humanities Institute, the Office of Residence Life, Student Diversity Programs, and the Women’s Studies Program.
Valenti, an impassioned activist who holds a Masters degree in Women’s and Gender Studies, holds a long record of working with national and international women’s organizations. She presents a fresh vision of feminism that discredits myths and stereotypes and focuses on the future. Rather than attempting to identify the ways in which past women activists failed, Valenti utilizes a wittily sarcastic tone to present her audience with straightforward facts and information they can use to implement change.
The lecture was organized in part by Tara Hurley ’10, a student who read Valenti’s work in a Women’s Studies course. Inspired by her writing, Hurley applied for grants and found advocates to help bring Valenti to campus.
“Jessica Valenti’s book stood out from the rest because I felt she covered many of the pertinent feminist issues in a way that I hadn’t seen before,” Hurley said.
“I think that [she] will bring a fresh perspective on feminism to campus. She presents the feminist issues in a way that makes them accessible to young women today,” she added.
Elizabeth Hohl, professor of History and Co-Director of Women’s Studies, said she believed strongly in the case Hurley made for Valenti to visit the University and that the timing was apt to continue the discussion on feminism. Along with Co-Director of Women’s Studies Dr. Danke Li and former Director of Women’s Studies Dr. Johanna Garvey, Valenti’s lecture was arranged.
“The struggle that ensued over the “He Said/She Said” illustrated a compelling need for greater dialogue. Without attributing malice, raising consciousness around the issue of misogyny became apparent,” Hohl said.
“Valenti is willing to tackle a wide range of issues around the need for equality; she encourages debate as well as the process of self-discovery,” she said.
Michelle Morrison ’10, a member of a book club Hurley created to discuss Valenti’s work, agrees that Valenti’s message is fresh and unique.
“Valenti is one of those authors who really gets it,” said Morrison. “I’m so excited to hear her speak, because I know it will be fun and also make me consider the world in a new way.”
Valenti has appeared as a guest on The Colbert Report and has been featured in New York Magazine and The Guardian. She has also contributed to Ms. Magazine, The Scholar & Feminist, Bitch Magazine, and Salon.com. Valenti received an award from Choice USA for her commitment to reproductive justice and was named one of ELLE Magazine’s IntELLEgentsia.
She is also the co-editor of the feminist anthology “Yes Means Yes: Visions of Female Sexual Power and a World Without Rape,” which was named one of Publishers Weekly’s Top 100 Books of 2009 and won a 2010 Amelia Bloomer award.