MU conservative women's group to foster discussion, reading

The group will serve as a book club and discussion group for conservative women.

The MU chapter of the Network of Enlightened Women, a conservative women’s organization, plans to hold its first-ever meeting Sept. 29.

“NeW is a conservative women’s book club, originally, but it’s also a discussion group for conservative women,” the chapter's chairwoman Sophie Mashburn said.

The group will be a place for women whose views aren’t represented by liberal or feminist organizations, Mashburn said. Instead of focusing on elections, NeW will revolve around discussion and camaraderie among conservative women.

“I’m the former president of College Republicans, and I noticed there was a lot of male representation in the group, which is good,” she said. “But I wanted something for the conservative women on the campus that they can identify with.”

The organization has a written constitution and the required number of members to be recognized by the university. The Organization Resource Group should officially approve the NeW chapter in September or October, Mashburn said. After the group is approved, it will set a definite time and place for its first meeting.

So far, there are 10 women in NeW’s Facebook group and Mashburn has been receiving emails from women interested in joining.

“As of right now, it’s a pretty small group, but we are going to be doing some recruiting,” she said.

The first book the group will read is Kate O'Beirne's “Women Who Make the World Worse: and How Their Radical Feminist Assault Is Ruining Our Schools, Families, Military and Sports." The book is on NeW’s national book list, which the MU chapter will be following in its meetings.

The group will also discuss conservative politics and social issues such as the relationship between men and women on campus.

“The main issue that NeW tries to raise awareness of is some double standards,” Mashburn said. “There’s a lot of mixed messages that the male population is getting about how to treat women — what’s acceptable and what isn’t.”

Nationally, each established NeW chapter holds a Gentleman’s Showcase each spring to honor gentlemen on campus and foster mutual respect between the sexes, according to NeW’s website. Mashburn said the MU chapter of the organization might host a Gentleman’s Showcase in the future.

In future semesters, when NeW has funding, Mashburn said she plans to bring speakers to campus.

“We would want the same kind of conservative speakers you would see Campus Republicans getting, except preferably female,” Mashburn said.

Junior Kelly Cohen, the chapter’s co-founder and vice chairwoman, said she hopes the group will inspire college-aged people to learn more about politics.

“I personally want to see more of my friends and peers get involved in the government, whether you’re a Republican, Democrat, independent, whatever,” Cohen said.

Cohen said one long-term goal for the group is to level the playing field for women in politics.

“Women in politics aren’t taken as seriously as men,” she said.

Other goals are to increase membership, become known positively on campus and spread conservative ideals, she said.

NeW treasurer Brooke Wilson said although she doesn’t consider herself a political person, she’s excited to be part of the group.

“I think it’s a great opportunity to be able to connect with other women who have my same views,” Wilson said.

Wilson said she appreciated that the group will focus less on campaigning and more on conservative issues. She said she’s looking forward to reading the suggested books.

“I don’t usually go out of my way to read political books, so this gives me a good excuse to do it,” she said.

Wilson said she’s glad to be a part of NeW in its first semester as the MU chapter defines itself.

“Starting NeW here, we get to decide what it will be,” she said.

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