By Melissa Campbell

Melissa Campbell is 21 years old and a senior at Eugene Lang College in New York City, where she’s majoring in Cultural and Media Studies. She’s a proud, loud feminist whose interests include smashing patriarchy, bringing down the class system, and hosting potluck suppers. She believes in media literacy as a crucial tool of empowerment, and hopes to find work in youth activism and education when she graduates this May. You can follow her process of self-discovery as a feminist, activist, and productive member of society at her tumblr.

For years I’ve been the “unfun feminist” friend in my group, the one who never shuts up about objectification of women or rape culture or how messed up it is that so many movies fail the Bechdel test. It was a fate I’d resigned myself to, being the lone feminist media critic wolf in a sea of otherwise well-meaning people who just didn’t seem to care at all about the way young women are talked about and constructed on television, in music, and in film. So imagine my joy upon coming to SPARK, and finding that not only am I not the only “unfun feminist,” but also that we unfun feminists are actually amazing, bright, brilliant, FUN people.

I’ve never done anything like SPARK before. Up until I took my place on the stage for the young activist panel, I wasn’t even sure I belonged there. I mean, yeah, I’d organized a pretty wonderful street theater protest earlier in 2010, but that was nothing compared to what my fellow panelists had accomplished: a non-profit, an in-progress film, and a history of activism and volunteer work so amazing that it made me wish I could go back to the start of my freshmen year and do college over again, this time with a focus on being a feminist bad-ass from the very beginning. To say I was intimidated was an understatement.

But that feeling didn’t last long. Meeting my fellow activists, those young women on the panel with me and those who were participating in workshops and action stations throughout the day, reminded me that no matter how scary this fight is, we’re all in it together. And not only that, we need to be. No one else is going to look out for us or speak up for us; we need to do it ourselves.

SPARK made me realize that activism isn’t what I do, it’s who I am. I talked about this a little bit at the summit, but not nearly as much as I would have liked to. If I could, I would shout it from mountain tops. I would write it on postcards and mail it to random addresses in the phone book. I would scribble it on post-it notes and tuck them into the pockets of jeans at Old Navy. Activism is the absolute best way I know to empower myself, to take care of myself, and to retain positive agency in a world saturated with media that wants to see me suffer (when it wants to see me at all). SPARK confirmed that for me and inspired me to share that message with other young women.

It’s been more than two weeks since SPARK Summit and I still turn red and grin a big stupid grin whenever someone asks me how it was. “Amazing,” I always say. “So wonderful. I can’t even really describe it.” And I can’t. I don’t think there’s any way to describe the feeling you get the moment you realize that you’re part of a movement, that there are people out there who share your concerns and your goals and who want to work with you to make a visible, lasting change in the world. I had dozens of those moments at SPARK Summit and I’ve had more since then, and I am so ecstatic to be part of this revolution.

Because make no mistake: this is a revolution, and we are its leaders.