The other side

At conservative women’s conference, a different brand of feminism was on display

More than 1,000 women between the ages of 17 and 24 gathered in Dallas over the weekend for the annual Talking Points USA Young Women’s Leadership Summit. (Twitter)

Over the weekend in Dallas, Talking Points USA, a conservative group, held its annual “Young Women’s Leadership Summit.” Featured speakers included firebrands from the right like Fox News host Tomi Lahren, NRA spokesperson Dana Loesch, White House counselor Kellyanne Conway and the recently ascendant and highly controversial Candace Owens.

The event’s main sponsor is the NRA, so, not surprisingly, the Second Amendment was a hot topic at the four-day summit. Antonia Okafor, who is running to become an NRA board member appeared onstage at one point, according to her Twitter feed, and riffed on Hillary Clinton’s classic “women’s rights are human rights” line.

“When you say ‘Gun rights are Women’s Rights’ and the entire room of young women gets it,” Okafor recalled later on Twitter.

In addition to rallying support for the Second Amendment, the conference served as a place for an alternative brand of feminism to be practiced. The event did not receive much coverage from the mainstream press. Even though the speaking lineup was peppered with Fox News personalities, the conservative media outlet appears to have taken a pass on covering it.

But The New York Times sent reporter Astead W. Herndon to cover the conference, which is aimed at women between the ages of 17 and 24. Several young women were seen wearing Make America Great Again hats. It was a venue where they could fraternize and openly embrace President Donald Trump, something some said they were unable to do with their families and friends. And some who talked with Herndon expressed skepticism about some of mainstream feminism’s most pressing current issues.

Natalia Mittelstadt, 20, said the #MeToo movement was bordering on “McCarthyism.” Morgan Tapley, 17, who wore a MAGA hat, expressed doubt about the statistic that one in four women experience some form of sexual assault on college campuses. She worried that “we’re importing rape culture” by allowing immigration and through homosexuality, and said it was urgent to build a border wall separating the U.S. from Mexico.

But it was hardly just Trump that women were able to bond over. Ideas about small government, signs that read “socialism sucks” and religion allowed people to connect with one another, as photos taken from the orbit surrounding the conference stage and posted on social media showed.

“Girls who pray together slay together,” Bailey Drouant, a self-described “young female freedom fighter” who hails from Baton Rouge, wrote on Twitter next to a photo of her and other young women holding hands and praying before breaking bread together

Of course, there was one other thing that united everyone: a disdain for Hillary Clinton. As KellyAnne Conway put it when it was her turn to take the stage, “We kept open the job of first female president of the United States, and maybe she’s in this room,” Conway said, according to The Dallas Morning News. “This country’s more than ready for a female president — just not that one.”

Read the full story at The New York Times.

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