Feminism Society -Interview with President Nele Leitolf (Long version)

Photo by Nele Leitolf

Describe your society in one sentence

We are fighting for equality, defending women’s rights, having fun and making friends at the same time.

What is your main goal/plan as a society?

“That’s a tough one because obviously everyone who is a member of the society has different ideas of what […] feminism is. What I want to do with the society is creating a safe space […] for people who are interested in feminism and equality, a space where their ideas can be discussed because maybe in their spaces at home, they can’t discuss those things. We as a society try to not educate people on feminism, I’m not a lecturer or anything, but for example, terms like toxic masculinity or beauty standards, we are trying to have events where we explain and discuss and explore all these topics.” 

“There is fine line between educating someone and having a discussion with someone. I am willing to listen to people who are trying to challenge me on my ideas of feminism, but I am not willing to discuss with people if women are inferior to men, why we need feminism. Being a white woman, I come from a very privileged background, but I think it’s no women’s job to explain to someone why we need feminism. We can discuss the ideas behind feminism and how to fix them, but I am not going to discuss whether rape culture exists or if women are inferior to men. We are happy for people to come to our events and start a discussion, but I am not going to have the movement that I am so passionate about questioned by someone.”

What are your plans for the future (events, activities, working with other societies/organisations/the SU)?

“Last year our most popular event was SHAG week which we also won the best event award for at the society awards. A week-long series of events about sexual health and guidance. We got many different societies and sports teams in. Something that I want to keep on going as events are so much better when different societies work together because you have a different audience and it’s supporting us and it’s supporting the other society.”

“We are going to try and have a lot of academic talks and have guest speakers that are not necessarily from the university, for example the women’s equality party. We want to step away from the activism part a little bit and have more socials and get togethers. All our academic talks are kind of socials anyway, but also things like meet for a drink or a coffee and not take everything too serious all the time because I think that is important.”

What drives you personally as the president?

“I think it is kind of shocking how almost every woman I meet has a history of sexual assault. I knew about feminism from quite an early age on, but I never really thought it was my thing and I was kind of intimated by the movement. Obviously, if you are not so much in the topic as I am now, you kind of think: Oh it’s cool, women can vote, women can do the job they want, they can go to university but that does not mean we have equality. We have the big things like rape and sexual assault but also things like everyday sexism, sexism in film and advertisements, sexism on the street, being catcalled. I think it’s a very common misconception that just because we outwardly have equality does not mean we actually have equality in everyday life. I want it known to people that not only does it only seem like we have equality, but the women are still very, very disadvantaged at almost everything.”

“I am also very passionate about because I made a lot of friends last year through FemSoc which is why I think the friend-making part is so important because you are not going to be able to make a change alone whereas when you are a group you feel much more empowered.”

“There is misleading picture that society has of women that we tear each other down and are in constant competition. Women still get more judged on the way they look and the way they act, they get judged for everything and that is not okay.”

What do you love most about the society?

“What I love the most is that I always get super stressed out when I plan an event and then when you are at that event and people actually do turn up and people afterwards come to you and tell you how good it was, that is really, really rewarding. I am enjoying being at the events myself, but I also really enjoy providing events and spaces for students to come to and enjoy themselves.”

Who can join/what do your members look like?

“Everyone can join the society and I would love for everyone to join who wants to. It doesn’t matter if you have known feminism for years or if you just know the concept and are interested in it. There is absolutely no obligation to turn up to events, it is not signing a contract. The dream would be to have a big group of people who are interested in everything, but we are still students and still have private lives so that’s not going to happen. You don’t even have to be a woman to join, you can be a man, you can be non-binary, you can be identifying as whatever you want, everyone is welcome.”

Is there a fee and if so, what is it used for?

“There is no fee, but we will have an email-sign-sign-up at the welcome week.”

FemSoc on Instagram: @uogfemsoc

FemSoc on Facebook: University of Greenwich Feminism Society

FemSoc on Twitter: @femsocuog

By Anne Blombach
Second year Creative Writing student, active member of SODA and FemSoc and avid dog lover. Born and raised in Germany, chose London as my home in 2016. When I grow up, I want to become a journalist to provide information and raise awareness for mental illnesses and the rights of pretty much any living creature. My friends would describe me as a creative and extroverted person with great organisational skills and a passion for music and especially concerts.

The Crow’s Nest is a Greenwich Students’ Union Student Media channel. The views expressed in this website do not necessarily reflect those of GSU, its trustees, employees, officers or the University of Greenwich.

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