By Carmen Rios

Carmen Rios is a student activist, and artist loving in Washington, DC. She is involved with THE LINE Campaign focused on enthusiastic consent and edits the campaign blog, Where Is Your Line?, and founded an educational campaign called (con)sensual on her campus addressing similar issues. She has tackled similar tasks for Hollaback!, the Feminist Majority Foundation, the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, and other non-profit groups and campaigns. She got involved with the SPARK Summit to inspire and be inspired by other members of the movement to give girls whole, fulfilling, lives free from media and cultural sexualization.

The SPARK Summit in New York City was an amazing gathering of young minds, experienced and inspiring feminist figures, and thoughtful conversationalists. I was featured on a panel called “Girls Activists Speak Out” and had the opportunity to speak with Lexi St. John and Melissa Campbell, two other young activists tackling real issues and making real change. (And it was emcee’d by Shelby Knox!) Video of the panel can be found here.

After spending two days (or I guess three, if you count sleeping in the airport) in New York City talking about the issues we focus on here at THE LINE, I’ve come away with a few main points and things I wanted to share with all of you…
• Speaking up against sexualization of girls in the media and in our mainstream culture is important- and so is talking to the girls and women in our lives about having healthy, fulfilling, and whole lives. I touched on this in my blog for the SPARK tour on Feministing, and Geena Davis (yes, that Geena Davis) spoke about it in her keynote address at the Summit. (She’s a mother and talks to her kids about the lack of female characters in their movies and favorite shows.)
• Activism today is unique and fearless – and it happens online. The importance of speaking and reaching out online was a main point of the summit, and the work feminists do online has been called “the new conciousness-raising.” Melissa and I both do a lot of work and engage in a lot of conversation with members of big, online communities or social networks and stressed the importance of using the internet in our panel. We also addressed that making the things you care about public involves being ready for trash talk. And one of my favorite quotes from my panel: “If someone is calling me a bitch, it’s because they’re terrified of me- and they should be.”
• The responses at THE LINE’s booth prove that girls today are aware, smart, and sassy, and deserve to be seen as whole people. There was a flood of interest and people of all ages were intrigued by our campaign. You can follow our tumblr to see responses from all of our events! (You can also see all of our SPARK responses here – including one of my favorites, “my line is where I draw it – & where I hide it.”)
If you were at the SPARK Summit and you talked to us, it was great meeting you! Keep on keepin’ on, and never stop making a scene. (And remember- keep SPARKing a movement! Take sexy back.)