“To be truly liberated, capitalism and the patriarchy must be eradicated.”
A thunder of knocking agreement filled Founders Hall 118 on Wednesday by a crowd consisting of mostly students who were eager to hear a debate focused on the incompatibility of capitalism and feminism.
Women from HSU’s debate team presented their speeches in front of a crowded room using the British Parliamentary debate format that consists of four teams where each person is given seven minute to present.
“[We] cannot fight the system if we are always fighting just to survive.”
Kimberly Nguyen, the prime minister, opened the debate by defining the motion and proposing a radical change by feminists, suggesting they should avoid teaching for profit, working with conglomerate media, and selling bestselling books with publishing conglomerates.
“We will not try to solve for capitalism in this debate,” Nguyen said. “Instead, we are only having a conversation about how the two are incompatible.”
After a heated discussion professor Leslie Rossman, who identifies as a socialist feminist, recapped the event reminding the audience that capitalism is an inherently exploitative system and it will continue to sell social movements like feminism for a profit. Rossman continued to describe how capitalism will constantly reproduce scarcity and leave citizens in a state of insecurity.
“[We] cannot fight the system if we are always fighting just to survive,” Rossman said.
Debate coach and professor, Aaron Donaldson was delighted by the crowd turnout and how well the women debated the topic.
“I think they did a great job of showing why our team is so respected in the circuit,” Donaldson said.
This debate prepared the team for Nationals that will take place at Clemson University in South Carolina in mid-April, where they will compete against teams like Harvard and Yale. Sydney Verga, an environmental studies major, highlighted the struggles of competing at tournaments due to budget cuts.
“Last year we got lucky because nationals was closeby at Stanford,” Verga said. “We normally cannot fly to these tournaments because it’s too expensive.”
Many suggest bake sales to raise money for these tournaments, but the biggest struggle they face is reaching out to debate program alumni who they’ve lost contact with over the years. Recently the clubs office recognized them as a club so they are able to fundraise, although the team is finding it hard to raise money.
The team spent weeks preparing their arguments, making sure they were charitable to both sides, making sure none of the arguments were off topic. A goal for this debate was to demasculinize the space and make it as diverse and inclusive as possible.
“Capitalism and feminism are really dense topics,” Nguyen said. “We don’t want to mischaracterize anything.”
Typically the debate team finds themselves presenting in small rooms with an even smaller crowd, but the turnout at the event prepared them for larger spaces and skills to become better public speakers.
Donaldson was thankful to have the team present in front of peers, friends, and teachers because, it meant that their hard work wasn’t limited to invisible corners of campus and people are caring about the amount of work and research that goes into preparing for events like this.
“It brings a lot of excitement [for] the chance to give a speech,” Donaldson said.