It was a night filled with laughter, music and discussion as members of the Los Medanos College community bustled into community room L-109 for “a night of feminine energy” Thursday, March 23.
That evening, ambient lights set the mood as attendees of the Femina event gathered around tables adorned with lights and refreshments and chatted amongst themselves while waiting for both planned speakers and open-mic performances in honor of Women’s History Month.
“I’ve always been surround by very, very strong women,” said Justin Rocha, who MC’d the event. In between performers, he relayed the night’s schedule and introduced the next act or speaker.
Singer Julia Steele was the first to take the “stage.” She performed two original songs while playing guitar, then later during the event, she recited a poem about feminism.
Several other attendees performed musical numbers including one student serenading his girlfriend.
Student Sketch Choice sang Sara Bareilles’ “Gravity,” garnering cheers and applause from her audience. In addition to the singers and the speakers, the room had been decorated with paintings of important historical figures contributed by members of the art club. Theses pieces were up for auction.
The first speaker was Anthropology Major Grace Babayan who spoke about the importance of women. She cited a 2012 case study that stated only 20 percent of STEM majors are women. She emphasized the importance of support and mentorship because women are typically not encouraged to do things related to maths or sciences.
She asked, “Where is this discouragement starting?”
Babayan said that because there’s a perception of what women can be good at, they often don’t partake in STEM fields, which has been a huge problem. She said it would be nice if society didn’t already place women into pre-determined roles they might not fit into.
“Pizza rolls, not gender roles right?” she said, ending her speech.
Speech professor Marie Arcidicono gave a woman-friendly talk about all three — including a possible fourth — wave of feminism.
“Feminism is near and dear to my heart,” she started, holding up a framed defined definition of the word that sits in her “real office” at the Brentwood Center.
“Many feminists don’t agree on what it means to be a feminist” she said, at which point an audience member from the back room chimed in with a proud “I’m a feminist” exclamation, making the rest of the attendees giggle.
She said that third wave feminists “bucked the traditions” of their mother and rejected typically feminine things while those of the third wave embraced those things for empowerment.
Arcidiocono also acknowledged those third wave feminists make second wavers “uncomfortable,” especially since some modern feminists are reluctant to label themselves as such.
She was hopeful about a possible fourth wave however, saying that modern women are much more about inclusivity and intersectionality across the board.
She then proposed a toast. She and other attendees raised their cups of cider and acknowledged the accomplishments of feminists who paved the way for modern day women.
READ club member RC Kubota spoke about a myriad of issues affecting women including the importance of Planned Parenthood and the negative impact gender roles impose on modern society. She tied in the latter with the STEM-related speech from earlier that night.
“We’ve go to help kids learn that it’s not unladylike to be good at Math,” said Kubota.
After admitting to how nervous she was to speak publicly, she was engulfed in a hug by Rocha.
Toward the end of the evening, Rocha said he hoped the event helped showcase the skills of LMC student, staff and faculty members.
“We want to show off the talented people in the community,” he said.
He thanked the campus organizations — Student Life and the Art Club — and people who helped set up the event, one of which was Student Life Coordinator John Nguyen.
Rocha acknowledged the men attending the event saying, “This is not about you, but thanks for your support.”