CEO Angela Rye and editor Julie Zeilinger discussed the themes of identity and experience as female leaders at a panel moderated by history professor Marcia Chatelain. The discussion took place in Gaston Hall Saturday afternoon as part of this year’s OWN IT Summit.
Zeilinger, a staff writer for mic.com and the editor of thefbomb.org, a feminist blog she founded when she was just 16, called for the term “feminist” to be unpacked and freed from some of its negative stereotypes.
“I stand by that word, and I stand by the movement. It’s a huge part of my life,” Zeilinger said. “I stand by that word, but I wish there was some more space.”
As an editor, Zeilinger said that she hopes to act as a voice for underrepresented women, using the Internet as a forum to display those otherwise unheard voices.
“I receive submissions from so many young women, all over the world, all over the country, from so many different backgrounds, and I’ve always sort of seen myself as a conduit of those experiences. It’s never been my blog or about me personally,” Zeilinger said.
Rye, a political contributor as well as the director of IMPACT Strategies, a government relations and political consulting firm, said that she hopes to provide a voice and perspective that would be relatable to women. She cited one instance in which a woman came to her and told her that she felt Rye’s voice was representative.
“There’s nothing better than that moment when you know that someone who has not had … that access feels like they can relate to something that I’m saying,” Rye said.
Zeilinger, who focuses on women in social media, addressed the online harassment that women face when posting their opinions online.
“The online space is so gendered, especially when it comes to harassment. And, I think that women on Twitter face this harassment not because of the content they’re putting out there, but because they have opinions in general,” Zeilinger said. “It’s just sort of this systemic issue of wanting to push back on women who are sort of pushing against that passive gender role.”
Drawing on her own experiences, she stressed that women should not take this sort of negative commentary personally.
“You have to sort of divorce that commentary from your ultimate mission,” Zeilinger said.
Rye concluded the event with a call for women and other marginalized groups to demand equality.
“Here we are now, women, 51 percent of the demographic in this country, and still don’t have what we deserve. Imagine what we could do if we teamed up with people of color, disabled people, LGBTQ people,” Rye said. “We would kill it, in a good way, in a very OWN IT way.”