Meet the president of RHUL FemSoc

They’ve got a bake sale on Wednesday

Feminist societies across the country seem to be a centre of controversy. I caught up with the current president of RHUL Fem Soc, Tegan Marlow, to find out why this is, who exactly this bold group are, and to discuss the big changes they’re making on campus.

How long have you been involved with Fem Soc?

Not very long actually, I didn’t really get involved in my first year. I was on the Facebook group but didn’t realise you had to pay membership. I joined in my second year and someone dropped out of the committee as treasurer so I filled the role. As I got to know the committee I became friends with everyone and they suggested I ran for president… and here I am.

President Tegan at the society fair

Tegan at the society fair

What made you want to join?

Since leaving sixth form I’ve been really interested in feminism, it’s something I’ve always been really passionate about. I’m such a keyboard warrior, I’ve always been posting stuff on Facebook, but I wanted to start doing active things to make a difference. And I decided Fem Soc was the place to be for that.

Can you tell me a little bit about some of the campaigns you’ve been involved with recently?

We had the tampon tax campaign that we ran with the Women and Marginalised Gender’s Officer, which was really fun! We got people walking past to take a photo with one of the signs or write on a whiteboard why they think tampon tax is an issue. Lots of people got involved and it wasn’t just girls, there were men as well who were interested in the issue.

Tying in with that we had the sanitation donation where people donated sanitary items that we donated to local homeless shelters. I dropped them off to the shelters and they were so happy – it’s such an easy way of making a difference, but it’s not something people think to donate.

Some of the members at the sanitation donation

Social Sec Sarah and FemSoc member Maxime at the sanitation donation

What is your favourite thing about being president?

When we make a real difference and help someone (like with the sanitation donation). When we throw successful events and lots of people attend, seeing all the first years mingling and making friends is really cool.

What would you say the most challenging aspect of your role is?

Well feminism is stupidly quite a controversial topic, but I don’t really get that much aggravation for it. We do get some people who like to complain or go against what we believe in. But it’s something that we’re used to and we all take it on the chin.

In terms of being president its things like trying to organise stuff and trying to remember everything, promoting events, and trying to balance everything can be hard.

Fem Soc trip to see the recent Suffragette film

Fem Soc trip to see the recent Suffragette film

How would you sum up the key values or aims of Fem Soc?

Equal rights for all genders. We are focused on being inclusive; we don’t want to make anyone feel left out or like they don’t belong, anyone can join Fem Soc.

Do you have many male members?

Not really, we have a couple of guys but it is mainly women. This is a stigma we have tried to attack, despite knowing many guys who call themselves feminists and support us I think men are very hesitant to join the society. We are really enthusiastic for men to get involved with what we do.

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Society social in Crosslands

How do you personally react to people who say they aren’t feminists?

I try and stay calm. The other night on YikYak someone was commenting saying “why do Fem Soc exist?” and was arguing against us and it turns out the person behind these yaks was a woman. I got angry because we do what we do for women. But I understand that most people say it because they aren’t informed, they have the wrong idea of what feminism is.

What do you guys have coming up this term?

We have a bake sale planned for February 3 in Crosslands, and we are hoping to do a Medicine night in March for Women’s History Month. We coordinate a lot of our events with what the SU are doing, working closely with the Co-President of Welfare and Diversity. For instance, we took part in a mental health workshop in Mental Health Awareness Week, and we promoted the I Heart Consent campaign during SHAG week (where I became “the condom girl”).

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A session on consent

What advice would you give to women dealing with misogyny and sexism, for example, in the workplace?

The best advice I can give is to rise above it – even if it feels like you just want to punch this person, the best thing to do is be the better person and report it. If someone has that much misogyny ingrained into them shouting isn’t going to help and they will never listen. Even with small things like cat-calling just keep that upper ground and rise above it. A cheeky middle finger can sometimes feel good too…

What’s your favourite thing about Royal Holloway?

I like how everything is in one place. You always bump into someone you know as the campus is so small – I’m really glad I didn’t go to a big city uni. Because we don’t have a huge amount going on all the time it means you can get on with your work but also get to know people a bit better. Because we don’t have clubs it means people go out to the pub more or throw house parties. It’s just such a nice community atmosphere.

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At the first meeting of the year

What’s your favourite pre drink?

I always go for a vodka-coke or a gin and tonic. G&T is more if I’m relaxing and then vodka-coke if I’m getting on it. Crossland’s actually made a suffragette cocktail to celebrate the feminist film that came out, that was bangin’.

Finally Monkey’s or Medicine?

Always Meds!