Women’s rights campaign expands to USC

Photo courtesy of Justine Kim
Read my lips · Sophomore Justine Kim was originally wary of protests, but was inspired by the crowds she saw the Women’s March.

Like many women across Los Angeles, Justine Kim took a stand during the Women’s March on Jan. 21. Kim, a sophomore majoring in business administration and French, also brought Mogul, a platform for women worldwide to voice their opinions, to USC. To continue the momentum from the Women’s March, Kim introduced the #ReadMyLips campaign to USC in support of women’s rights and health issues.

“[Mogul is] just a safe space to empower women, to share stories, acquire knowledge and ask questions,” Kim said. “Juli Hurme, director of operations and growth at Mogul, asked me if I wanted to be a part of their college initiative and they wanted to start one at USC. I said “Yes,” as I was really interested, and that’s how I started getting involved with it.”

#ReadMyLips was launched on Feb. 21 and initiated at over 24 schools across the United States, including USC. The campaign got its name from the phrase, “Read my lips: no new taxes,” used by the then-Republican presidential candidate George H. W. Bush at the 1988 Republican National Convention. Kim said the campaign allows people to address President Donald Trump directly by writing messages to him about the protection of women’s rights.

Kim said that before she decided to participate in the Women’s March, she viewed protests negatively. According to Kim, taking part in protests was out of her comfort zone. But when Kim’s roommate told her she was attending the Women’s March, Kim decided to join.

“Just being there in that crowd and seeing how many people were willing to come out and the diversity of people like fathers with their daughters, moms and their daughters and elderly women was amazing to see,” Kim said.

Arianna Wood, a sophomore majoring in business administration and French, overheard Kim speaking with one of her professors about Mogul’s campaign. As a woman in business, Wood was always interested in the perception of others like her, and decided to join Kim.

“What inspired me to be a part of Mogul’s team here at USC was seeing the recent unrest regarding the presidency, seeing how a lot of women are feeling marginalized and unsafe within their communities,” Wood said.

Natasha Piñon, a sophomore majoring in communication and political science and another member of Kim’s team, said that this campaign is an innovative platform to make women’s voices heard.

“Because I knew there would be a lot of people posting about health-related issues, and I am half Latina, my message had to do more with intersectionality and growing up in Los Angeles,” Piñon said. “We are near the border, so [my message] touched more on that than anything unique to women’s health.”

Kim and her team have reached out to different clubs at USC such as Women SPEAK and Women and Youth Supporting Each Other regarding a collaboration.

The campaign has started to garner interest among students. Nitya Pydipati, a graduate student studying in data informatics, read about the campaign online and expressed her support for women’s rights.

“When I came across the #ReadMyLips campaign, I thought to myself that [this] was a great way for us to send our message across to President Trump about the rights that women deserve,” Pydipati said. “It is extremely important for women to have access to the right healthcare, and it is time that we all come together through such movements and make our voices heard loud and clear.”

To generate interest in the campaign, Kim has designed postcards and letter templates that people can print out and take pictures with, which can then be uploaded on Mogul’s website, along with #ReadMyLips. According to Kim, those who are not comfortable with writing letters to Trump take a picture with a sign that demonstrates their support for women’s sexual health and then share it on social media.

“It’s a really important time for you to be using your voice, and there is this platform for you to post on,” Kim said. “There isn’t often the opportunity to do that. So I think it’s a really rare opportunity that we should take a hold of no matter what you think your political views are.”

All messages that will be posted on Mogul’s website will be printed out and placed in a floral sculpture. This sculpture will then be delivered to Trump at the White House in Washington, D.C. on April 5.

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