Second Annual Westridge All-Womxn’s Debate Tournament Offers a Sexism-Free Space for Female Debaters
Last year, Rachel H. ’19 organized the first annual Westridge All-Womxn’s Debate Tournament as part of her CAP project on mitigating sexism in debate. Participants last year shared stories of being pushed out of co-ed debate teams and receiving judges’ comments on appearance or attire, among other experiences with sexism in the debate space.
Now in its second year, Rachel has passed down the legacy of her CAP project to juniors Ruby M. and Hattie B. to keep the safe space for female debaters alive. This year’s tournament more than doubled in size, with 15 teams bringing a total of 31 competitors, 13 judges, and lots of volunteers and spectators to the Westridge campus.
“I am forever grateful to Westridge for giving me an all-girls team environment in which I could be somewhat insulated from and given the tools to fight against sexism in speech and debate,” said Rachel. “I think one of [the tournament’s] primary goals is to mirror Westridge in allowing younger female competitors from both all-girls and co-ed schools to gain competitive experience and networking opportunities without having to worry about being faced with sexist norms.”
The debate topic at this year’s tournament addressed a very different facet of the female experience in debate from last year. “While last year’s tournament was focused on empowerment and unity, this year’s required a deep and thoughtful discussion about the role we, as women, have in ensuring that the arguments used in the debate sphere keep discourse productive and educational, rather than commodifying and offensive,” said Rachel.
Westridge School, 324 Madeline Drive, Pasadena, (626) 799-1053 ext. 200 or visit www.westridge.org.