If you visited Hillsdale College’s Kirby Center in D.C. last weekend, you would have seen a white and pink banner labeled “NeW,” proudly displayed by the front door.
Inside, you would have seen a group of women, and a few men, all gathering to celebrate the Network of Enlightened Women and its conservative beliefs.
This conference, held annually in D.C., packed enough conservative speakers, networking, powerful discussion, and pride to last myself and my fellow attendees the whole year. It will have to last us long enough until the next NeW National Conference, since we aren’t getting this kind of support and opportunities as conservative women on our college campuses.
While sitting on a Chapter Leaders panel at the conference, I made the point that being a conservative woman on a college campus is like being in “Fight Club,” where the first rule about it is that you don’t talk about being a conservative.
We are targeted and forced to hide in the shadows on college campuses in order to save face, sometimes for the sake of grades and other university-sponsored opportunities and honors. We aren’t encouraged to speak out by anyone but ourselves. While we were together this weekend, we enlightened and empowered each other so that we can go back to our campuses and continue defying all odds by standing up for our beliefs.
In one weekend, we heard from speakers who addressed a broad range of topics, such as the #MeToo movement, how to thrive in your first job, conservative public policy ideas, and sex trafficking in the U.S. We didn’t hear from cookie-cutter women who all want us to continue to succumb to a belief system “dominated by the male patriarchy.” We heard from women who are full of wisdom, successful inside and outside of the office, and care about the future of our country.
A lot of the issues we discussed, like the future of paid maternity leave, international and domestic women’s rights, and what policies work best for women, affect women on both sides of the political divide. Unfortunately, it seems most liberal women never listen long enough to realize that. We, at the conference, all listened intently to speakers, to each other, and to what the rest of the world was telling us about ourselves, and with this, we have had enough.
College is supposedly a place that fosters learning and thought, which used to teach you how to think. Instead, it has grown into an institution of indoctrination. Female college students are no longer united as women, but separated by labels of progressive and conservative feminism. True feminism is enlightening and empowering other women no matter what side of the political spectrum you find yourself on.
Conservative women are no longer staying silent on college campuses. Instead, we are making waves by writing award-winning op-eds that receive national attention, going on various news outlets to speak out against the bias we face, and starting NeW chapters on our college campuses. We, conservative college women, were loud and proud last weekend, and we are also branching out and making ourselves heard across the country.
After the conference, I walked around D.C. wearing my bright pink “This is What a Conservative Looks Like” T-shirt with pride, despite disgusted looks and rude comments I received in return. For every side-eye and glare I received, I also received just as many smiles, thumbs up, and friendly faces from women who were secretly cheering me on.
I know that when I wear my NeW T-shirt on campus this fall, I will receive just as many dirty looks in the dining hall and snarky comments in the classroom. The only difference at school is that in my NeW chapter, I am able to encourage and validate college women who believe the same as I do. Together, we can overcome the scorn we face from our peers.
So, the next time you see a young woman donning a smile and a bright pink “This is What a Conservative Looks Like” T-shirt, know that she probably just came from “Fight Club,” but is happy to talk about it with anyone and everyone who will listen.
See this article in the Washington Examiner