Caroline Bryant | Sept. 16, 2022 12:14 p.m.
Florida Southern’s Women’s Advocacy club is rebranding, starting with its name: Fempowered.
Established in 2012 by Dr. Deah Quinlivan, the Women’s Advocacy club is a safe space where anyone could discuss human rights issues. While the club attracted immediate membership, attendance fell due to the pandemic. Quinlivan also noticed that newer students hesitated to join because of the club’s name.
So when senior Noelle Pappas inherited the club presidency, she knew she had to change the name. With the help of her hometown friend and vice president, junior Chloe Lynch, the two decided it needed to be more inclusive.
“We didn’t want the word women in it because men can celebrate feminism and men can be feminine,” Pappas said. “Non-binary people can be feminine and study feminism [too], so we wanted it to be inclusive. Another big thing about our club is empowerment, so we merged these two ideas and went with Fempowered.”
Quinlivan loved the name.
“This is perfect because true feminism is that we should all be equal,” she said. “So using feminism and empowerment together they came up with Fempowered. When they told me about it I thought it was awesome. We didn’t want to send the wrong message though that it’s just ‘fem,’ but it’s not, it’s based on equality for everyone.”
While some students were still concerned with the term ‘fem,’ they accepted the name once Quinlivan explained that feminism supported equality. That said, she feels it’s important for the club’s success to be clear on the meaning behind Fempowered.
To make their message transparent, Quinlivan asked her sister to design their new logo. During the 2021-22 school year, the old logo displayed the female and male symbols. The new logo will feature people of different colors, races, religions and sexualities.
Additionally, they switched the pronouns on the volunteers’ t-shirts worn during The Clothesline Project, a project dedicated to giving sexual assault survivors a voice by writing on clothing. The t-shirts now read “it wasn’t their fault,” instead of “it wasn’t her fault.” Quinlivan agreed this was an essential change, as many non-female students would anonymously submit their stories of abuse for the project.
Such subtle adjustments have increased student interest in the club.
“We might not have as many members in the club [now], but it kind of evens out because they’re showing more interest,” Pappas said. “They want to be a part of this, and they want to help and fundraise. They want to come out to events and show their face in support of these domestic abuse survivors and sexual assault survivors. They want to be involved with this club.”
Pappas acknowledges that some students might now be interested in light of recent events. From the overturn of Roe v. Wade, to the restriction of LGTBQ+ content in the classroom, Gen-Z is angry. Fempowered is a place for them to be angry.
With their expanding membership, the club hopes to revamp past events and initiate new ones. After its hiatus during COVID-19, the club is bringing back the “What Were You Wearing” exhibit at the Polk Museum of Art this fall. The exhibit features donated items of clothing survivors were wearing when they were attacked to show that assaulters don’t cherry-pick by style.
Installing a women’s week is in the works. Starting March 8, the week would host events celebrating womanhood. Though there aren’t definite plans yet, she would like to partner with the Simmons Center and invite abortion rights activist Amy Weintraub as a guest speaker.
There is also talk about including topics such as mental and sexual health.
The more members they have, the more events they can plan. That’s why Pappas encourages students across campus to join or show support.
“We’re just getting off our feet. We are in the process of starting. We have changed our logo once and are open to feedback. We would love some support and ideas from anyone who has them, and the club is open to anyone. There is no need to be intimidated,” Pappas said.