Many people associate feminism with man-hating and bra burning of the 1960s or the riot grrrl bands of the 1990s. However, these three Long Beach groups are rooting feminism firmly into the issues and culture of the present day. These groups, run by young students and older adults alike, challenge the status quo by teaching feminist ideology, organizing events, and reaching out to diverse groups of people.
These three groups seek to educate Long Beach residents about issues around sexual violence against women, reproductive health care access, the pay gap, and feminism’s intersection with many other social movements.
One common thread between these three groups is that they believe feminism reaches beyond gender-based discrimination. Get in touch with these groups on social media and at their upcoming meetings and events.
When Piper Olefer was a sophomore at Woodrow Wilson Classical High School, she became intrigued about what feminist thought had to offer after noticing a feminist presence on the social media site Tumblr.
“People would share articles about all these different instances of sexism happening in our world, as well as statistics showing the global oppression of women,” she said. “Feminism seemed like a good social ideology to help spread and support in order to support women.” From there, Wilson Feminist was born.
Like many others, Olefer’s feminist politics are not just about women. “Wilson Feminists’ main goal is to provide a safe space to share information and experiences and support honest discussion of social issues, ranging from sexism, racism, LGBTQIA discrimination, ableism, classism, and so on.”
At their May 1st meeting, Baltimore riots and Freddie Gray was on the agenda. “All forms of oppression are interconnected, too much of mainstream feminism is very whitewashed and heterosexual and cisgender, as more people become supportive of feminism I think it’s important to get people into being supportive of everyone, not just white well-off women,” Olefer said.
Some local issues in Long Beach that Olefer, who will be starting her freshman year at the University of California, Santra Cruz this fall, thinks need to be addressed include sexual education for high school students and more awareness of Long Beach’s cultural diversity.
“We have a huge Cambodian population but tons of people don’t even know about the Khmer Rouge or just anything about the culture and others in general,” Olefer said.
For Piper, feminism is the idea that marginalized people can come together and reform society to better serve everyone, not just the privileged.
“I think if most people had the objective facts, they’d put together that the state of our society is dangerous for many marginalized groups and should be fixed,” she said.
Faculty-approved community members can join Wilson Feminists on the Woodrow Wilson Classical High School campus.
Wilson Feminists take the conversation of feminism outside of their weekly discussions. “We participate in school events like the Homecoming Fair to talk about feminism with people who might not come to the club before or who didn’t know it existed.”
For two of LB GRRRL Collective’s members, feminism became part of their identity after their very first exposure to it.
“I started college and took a Women in Pop Culture class and Riot Grrrl was in the curriculum,” said Amy Solis, one of LB GRRRL Collective’s founding members. “This is when it all came together for me. Feminism gave me the language for what I was feeling.”
Amanda Martin, another founding member, had a more unusual introduction to feminist ideology as a teenager when a girlfriend introduced her to a feminist artist who drank her own menstrual blood as part of a performance art piece. Martin said she was both frightened and intrigued by this particular artist.
“More exposure to feminism and an understanding of its importance was in [store during] college for me.”
Formerly known as Long Beach Riot Grrrl, LB GRRRL Collective is a feminist group that is committed to engaging their community in the creative process, influencing personal, social, and cultural transformation.
“Changing the name from Long Beach Riot GRRRL to LB GRRRL Collective was very intentional for us because we do more than hold shows,” Solis explained. “We wanted to, in some way, reflect this difference. We aim to make feminist education, art production, and DIY culture more accessible to the greater public by providing space, tools, and support.”
The collective, founded in 2013, aims to have an impact on the city.
“The hetero-capitalist-white supremacist-patriarchy is like poison that has seeped into all aspects of culture and society, that means we have a lot of work to do to identify the poison and find ways to get rid of it so that we stop feeling sick,” said Martin.
“Collectives like this one aid in the process of getting less sick from the poison through our weekly events.”
LB GRRRL Collective has numerous events every month such as Do It Yourself Wednesdays (DIYW). Their most recent DIYW was a workshop aimed to help make end-of-life planning and post-mortem decisions clearer, cheaper, and easier. Yes, they go there, as well as venturing into many other issues.
“In collaboration with Long Beach Food Not Bombs, we also hold Political Prisoners Letter Writing Events every first Monday of the month that is open to the public,” Amy said. “We will also be hosting a show on May 30th [at 246 Long Beach].”
Last month Christina Ramos began heading the Los Angeles-Long Beach chapter of Guerrilla Feminism (GF), which is a global feminist network.
“Guerrilla Feminism’s mission is promoting intersectional feminism,” Ramos explained. “Intersectional feminism is multi-issue feminism. We are not single-issue humans. I think feminism is not just some special interest movement. It is our life. It effects how we as men and women move through life. Why wouldn’t’t we want to make the world a more inclusive place?”
At the moment, there is not a physical meeting space for GF. Ramos said she hopes to see the group grow in the local area.
“I want to make it a safe space,” she said. With graduate school as her priority, Ramos does not yet have any specific plans for the physical space and is more focused on connecting with people online and promoting other feminist happenings in the city. “I do try to share different local events to encourage a feminist community involvement with different organizations.”
Ramos, who is originally from Texas and is obtaining her dual MFA-MBA in Theater Management at CSU Long Beach, said that if issues of gender, race, sexual orientation and other identities are left unaddressed, there will be adverse effects on youth.
“They may not realize the implications of oppression,” she said. “It’s more than just throwing a racial slur. These are lives that are therefore valued less and are at risk.”