Sophomore Spencer Kahn takes a deep breath. He waits for the inevitable backlash that was bound to come from what he’s done. His phone buzzes with notifications of favorites, retweets and a slew of replies. Kahn can’t believe his eyes as he scrolls through his Twitter timeline to see the hashtag #SHEBRON appearing all over, some in support, some in curiosity, some in contempt.
What Kahn has on his hands now, is a movement.
Sick of hearing about the constant competition between males and females, Kahn decided that it was time to start spreading word of equality between genders. Cleverly named, “Shebron,” the new feminist club is designed to educate the school’s student body about the importance of women’s rights and the fight to have a voice.
“In high school, we are not taught everything we’re supposed to know, [like] defense against sexual assault, and how to handle prejudice and [another] community outside of high school,” Kahn said. “We need to know that now, before it’s too late.”
Beginning his endeavor on Twitter, Kahn made an account for the club to help promote it. Responses ranged from die-hard support to utter derision, including heated discussions from people who are misinformed about the reality of feminism and those who are on the supportive side.
“There’s always going to be a positive and negative reaction from a group that challenges the social norm, so there was a large amount of negative reactions from people,” Kahn said. “I took it as an opportunity to teach [people] what feminism is really about and what it could do to help out the community.”
Despite the negativity surrounding the club, according to Kahn, there was a larger presence of support. News of the club spread throughout the club not only through social media, but also word of mouth, sparking debates in classrooms and the cafeteria of the club’s potential.
“After going on Twitter, I started getting a little concerned about the size,” Pre-AP English I teacher and club sponsor Kathryn Gaughan said. “I was surprised by how many people were actually interested. There were also concerns about mature behavior and whether or not it would be healthy debates and not kind of ugly.”
The first Shebron meeting had an unexpectedly large turnout of about 90 people.
Despite the bigger amount of support, the few negative comments still struck a chord for Kahn. Feeling discouraged at the prospect of having less members in the group, he considered not moving on with the club. But Gaughan helped motivate him not to give up and continue his efforts.
“There’s a poem she [Gaughan] showed us that said, ‘It takes having the wind knocked out of your lungs to realize how much they love it,’” Kahn said. “It’s all about balancing the positive with the negative and look at the positive as a blessing.”
According to Kahn, the first Shebron meeting that took place on Feb. 3 had an attendance of about 90 people, overfilling Gaughan’s small classroom. The unexpected turnout has given a new glimmer of hope for Kahn and the future of the club. However, it’s also cause for concern at the prospect of dealing with such a large group of people.
“We have to figure out what to do with all those people, because I want them to feel involved,” Gaughan said. “Moving forward, we need to find ways to include the whole group and try to find the activities we can do or awareness projects to work on.”
Some of the goals that Kahn has in mind for the club is to hold activities outside of school, and for the members to be motivated enough in their mindset to attend protests and discuss beyond their peer group with adults as well.
“I feel like now we can delve into deeper topics, no longer worrying about a small turnout, so I want us to be able to talk about controversial topics without constraint,” Kahn said.
According to Kahn, he is currently the only facilitator of the club, having Gaughan as an occasional contributor to the movement of the club, but he feels he will later be able to include ideas given to him by other people.
“It’s really a student-led movement,” Gaughan said. “Although I’m happy to host it and be an advocate, I really want it to come for the students, by the students.”