TEDx Talk: “Feminism isn’t dead, it’s gone viral!”

Kat Lazo feminist theekatsmeoww

“Our phones, our computers, those tablets that you have right there, they’re our picket signs, so don’t be afraid to use them. ” - Kat Lazo

Kat Lazo didn’t grow up reading Betty Friedan or spend her teenage years marching on Washington, but her feminism is no less genuine.

The Internet was my Feminine Mystique,” she told the audience of TEDxNavesink 2013, where she shared how the Internet and social media have allowed feminism not just to continue, but to go viral.

An advertising and marketing communications student at the Fashion Institute of Technology, Lazo said her studies further supported her belief that the media sends hurtful messages that negatively impact the development of girls and women. As a reaction, Lazo started her own YouTube channel TheeKatsMeoww, a vlog that sparks the curiosity with young people so that they can feel confident by challenging and questioning the media and social norms.

Growing up, Lazo did not have feminist role models like Audrey Lorde or Gloria Steinem. She was raised in a traditional South American family that had a rich, beautiful culture, but brought with it something called “machismo.” This chauvinistic tradition has very set views of women, and many of Lazo’s family members believed that a woman’s place was strictly to care for her husband and household duties.

Lazo realized, however, that is was not just her family who suffered from “machismo,” in fact, the whole world was suffering from it. She could not accept that this was “just the way things are,” and the Internet gave her a platform to create change. Lazo found that websites like Tumblr, a creative blogging and sharing site, allowed members to create a dialogue about the injustices of the world.

Online publications and their creators were able to translate serious gender inequalities into articulate and relatable language. These sources helped Lazo realize that her voice was not alone, and that she did not have to idly accept gender inequality as a way of life.

She was able to clearly see how the sexualization and objectification of women in the media impacted the lives of girls and women, and Lazo knew something must be done. So she created TheeKatsMeoww, “A YouTube channel that let the cat out of the bag…pun intended,” said Lazo.

Social media and other online functions provide tools and platforms for feminists to raise awareness about important issues impacting society today. Lazo’s vlog helps to highlight topics such as street harassment and the exploitation of Latinas in the media.

Lazo explains how the Internet is being used continuously in the fight for gender equality. She cites three significant stories of how girls and women are taking advantage of the Internet and social media in order to combat gender oppressive entities that are highly visible in mainstream media.

Whether it’s a young girl’s battle against Seventeen Magazine’s photoshopped, idealized body images, a budding feminist group’s protests against rapper Rick Ross’s song lyrics that perpetuate rape culture or the work of three teens from New Jersey, who petitioned for a female moderator in the recent presidential elections, Lazo speaks of how these feminist figures have taken their fight online, so that their voices can be heard by mass audiences that consume these skewed media sources.

The future of feminism lies in online feminism, said Lazo. Tactics such as protests, sit-ins and petitions are still being used today, but with the connectedness that the Internet allows, the reception of these tactics becomes significantly more widespread.

“Our phones, our computers, those tablets that you have right there, they’re our picket signs, so don’t be afraid to use them. Your voice matters and it can create change, but that’s only if you share it with others. Change starts with one person being brave enough, believing that change is possible. And online feminism gave me the courage to believe that it was,” stated Lazo.

Learn more about the future of feminism by viewing Kat Lazo’s full talk here.

TEDxNavesink 2014: PLAY  kicks off on May 10 at Two River Theater in Red Bank. We’re hosting 24 presenters who harness the positive power of play every day in technology, education, design and more. All talks will be recorded and posted on TedxNavesink.com.



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