Fiona Dolan, Founder, Social Empowerment Club

Bend, Oregon

ORIGIN: What are the labels/words you’ve been called that impacted you?
Fiona Dolan:
Conceited, full of yourself, ditzy, bitch, not deserving, boy-crazy, selfish, annoying, and more.

ORIGIN: Any relating to your body or appearance or sexuality? How did this make you feel?
I have been called “easy,” and that guys will “just use me.” But the thing is, it was by people who didn’t even know me. They knew nothing about who I actually was, and had completely made assumptions about me and my personality based on rumors that had floated around. It made me feel degraded, like it was taking away my worth. People were basing their entire opinion of me on how I interacted within my own personal relationship, which obviously had no relation to them and didn’t affect them in any way. The worst part was that is was all done anonymously over Tumblr messaging.

ORIGIN: How do you feel your value is established in our culture?
I definitely think, in high school at least, your value is highly based on superficial things. For example, judgement can be made on anything from whether you wear the newest, most expensive shoes to what grade you got on the math test to how many people you’ve been involved with. And the thing is, even if you do the slightest thing wrong, you can pretty much count on someone—you may not even know them—talking behind your back about it. And I think this is a mistake we all make, it’s not just on one person, and I’m not saying I’ve never done it before either, but I think we are too quick to judge as a society.

ORIGIN: What are things you’ve heard males say about women that make them feel reduced or disregarded?
“Fat bitch,” “bossy,” “stuck-up,” “pretentious,” “Is she just really horny all the time?” “Her boobs are too small, she looks like a pancake.”

ORIGIN: Why do you think men disrespect women?
This should not be a question in the 21st century, yet there is still no clear answer. Is it because they do not want to feel “less” than their female counterparts? Is it because they feel like women are an easy target to scrutinize or stereotype? The constant belittling of girls that are still in their teenage years is unreal.

ORIGIN: Why is it so important that we empower girls right now?
I think supporting other women is the most crucial thing we can do right now. It seems that a lot of the time, it’s more important to be the most liked or get the most guys, and this causes girls to be maliciously pitted against each other, always in a competition, when what we really should be doing is uplifting each other. In order to empower women, a supportive community that encourages every girl, no matter who it is, to pursue their dreams is vital. Plus, us high school girls are going to be the women who rule the world one day, so we might as well start empowering each other while we are young and learning to work together in order to create a better culture for women.

Fiona is 16 years old and works with World Muse to empower women and girls. Fiona is a founder of the Social Empowerment Club at her high school. She also enjoys writing, lacrosse, running, and being outdoors.

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