Vocal feminist author Jessica Valenti discussed rape culture and feminism with conviction and humor Wednesday night to viewers in the HUB Auditorium.
Valenti’s presentation, titled "Why feminism Matters: Using Activism to Battle Rape Culture," began with a question to the audience that, by a show of hands, showed the majority of the audience considered themselves a feminist.
She then went into her PowerPoint presentation with reasons why she’s a feminist this month. These first slides included a quote from Rep. Todd Akin, a republican candidate for the U.S. Senate, that included the quote, "If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down."
She also displayed a discontinued Belvedere Vodka advertisement that read, "Unlike Some People Belvedere always goes down smoothly."
Valenti went on to ask the audience: "When someone says the word feminist, what do you think of? Shout it out. I’ve heard them all."
Voices called back the words "bitch" and "lesbian" among many others.
Valenti later said, "If people didn’t see feminism as a threat, if people didn’t see feminism as powerful, they wouldn’t spend so much time putting it down."
Throughout her presentation, Valenti said feminism represents a broad spectrum of issues like racism, transgender rights, homophobia and economic injustice.
She went on to describe the harmful effects of culture’s multiple definitions for rape as it creates confusion and is discriminatory since it does not include drunk individuals, sex workers, women of color and so forth.
Valenti also discussed the online feminist movement with bloggers, change in government policies and other issues before she transitioned to a question-and-answer portion.
Here, one audience member brought up the topic of street harassment and friends that considered it a compliment.
"Street harassment is not a compliment," Valenti said. "It’s a reminder to women that the public space is not ours."
Her presentation ended with a great applause from the remaining audience members.
While some audience members had come to the event as an extra credit opportunity, most agreed they would have come to the event without the grade boost.
Student Katie Marschka said she finds the topic of women’s studies as up and coming. In regards to rape culture on campus, Marschka (sophomore-health policy and administration) later said while it is a problem everywhere, she feels safe at Penn State.
Student Brooke-Lynn Johnson, who is planning to minor in women’s studies, was also interested in the night’s speaker, though it did not change her perspective on the topic.
"[The event] didn’t really change my perspective because I always thought that rape is rape," Johnson (sophomore-criminology) said "It bothers me that society puts a label in front of rape such as date rape."