Women’s empowerment: Turning classroom inspiration into action

Trinity Brown

Hailing from Rockingham, Trinity Brown is in her final semester at Mars Hill University and finishing her studies in political science. She’s also working full time and applying for grad schools in hopes of getting her master’s in public administration. Helping drive those goals is her role as co-president of the campus’s National Organization for Women chapter, a group that came to her attention in 2019 while taking a women and gender studies course.

“One of my classmates had created a presentation sharing information about NOW and how it had numerous chapters all across the U.S. but not at MHU,” she says. “Needless to say, we were inspired. This set in motion the support my classmate needed to create the MHU NOW chapter.”

What does feminism mean to you?

Feminism to me is true equality for all — socially, economically and politically. It acknowledges that intersectionality is a necessary tool in understanding that everyone has their own experience in discrimination and oppression. In order to understand feminism, you have to look deeper into gender, age, race, class, sexual orientation and physical disability because being a woman is not a catchall category.

The primary goal of feminism is to challenge the systematic inequalities women face on a daily basis in order to gain true equality, whether it be bodily autonomy and access to health care or in structuring international systems governing economic development and human security. Our struggle is both very personal and very global.

What is a standout accomplishment that MHU NOW has achieved during your time there?

One of NOW’s biggest accomplishments was our Take Back the Night rally that occurred last year. Take Back the Night is a worldwide movement to stand against sexual violence. This was the first one to ever occur on Mars Hill’s campus, and we had several of our peers show up and support us by chalking words of encouragement on the sidewalk, sign-making and marching. It was a wonderful and amazing experience that I’m so thankful to have been a part of.

What is the biggest issue facing women on your campus?

One issue for young women while on campus is objectification — many fail to see the line between what is a compliment and what is harassment, as well as issues surrounding consent in relationships. This is actually what motivated us to do a Take Back the Night rally. We wanted to engage in conversation with all students about being respectful and understanding something that may seem harmless but is, in fact, intimidating to women.

We also wanted the campus community to understand the difference between consent and coercion, and that any instances of sexual violence will not be tolerated. We know this supports the mission of MHU in providing a safe environment on campus but we wanted to have the discussion student-centered to have more impact. We look forward to continuing the conversations on our campus as we are organizing a round table discussion with Heather Hawn, associate professor of political science, about Roe v. Wade, reproductive freedom and the legal challenges at the Supreme Court.


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