I walked into the Gaylord Texan Hotel and Resort to set up the RedState booth early on Thursday, before many of the attendees of the Young Women’s Leadership Summit arrived. It was feminine with no apology — and when I say feminine, I mean feminine. Hot pink and black were the primary colors, nearly every room had a photo booth for Instagram uploads, and it was all drenched in girl power.
It may be cliché to say, but this wasn’t your mother’s young women’s conference. I felt like I had walked into a politically-themed bachelorette party. Even the main stage looked as if Taylor Swift could perform on it, featuring an elegant chandelier above a black and white checkered runway. Flanking it were vertical screens encased in black frames sporting carved-in floral designs that could have belonged to Wednesday Addams.
When the attendees started arriving, a few things were noticed right off the bat. The girls ranged in age, but few seemed to be in their late twenties. Most were in their early twenties or younger, with mothers accompanying their pre-teenaged daughters. All of them were dressed in fun, gorgeous, or fierce outfits, but no matter which way they went, they were well-thought-out. They weren’t just there to hear feminine conservative messages and find community with other girls, they were there to show up and show out.
Then the event started.
A room full of girls cheered as a video began that set the tone. Mainstream culture had turned its back on women and girls. Example after example was given of the erasure, not just of women, but of femininity. The video culminated in a ringing pink telephone that’s answered by TPUSA’s Alex Clark.
“I’m sorry, the old conservative movement can’t come to the phone right now,” says Clark. “Why? Because it’s dead!”
Boom! Lights and bass flood the room. Boom! Pyrotechnics. Boom! Confetti. Girls are cheering as loud as they can as Clark takes the stage.
It doesn’t feel like a conservative conference. It feels like a concert, and while I’m not a woman I feel the energy.
It should be noted that as all of this was happening, the event staff were consistently adding chairs into the room because too many girls had shown up. I stood near the back of the room and watched as young women continued to stream in, crowding the area where I was.
Clark set the tone and the message was clear. Strong conservative women are on the rise and they wouldn’t be shamed, silenced, and walked on. They dare you to try. This isn’t the passive group of women the left had dealt with decades ago. Clark was right. The old movement is dead. This is something different.
Later, I walked into the room that had areas set up for merch, sponsors, and more photo booths. Everything was soaked in American femininity, including the posters and memorabilia. Groups of girls took pictures with signs that had conservative messages on them.
It was shocking, but I don’t use that word in a negative sense. It was shocking because I realized I hadn’t seen women openly advocating for things like gun ownership, Christianity, and motherhood for some time. It really made me realize how inundated I was with leftist messaging. Abortion, feminism, anti-gun propaganda, and the denigration of the nuclear family are my day-to-day norm when it comes to interactions with society.
Here, the women were proudly defying the leftist messaging. They wanted to embrace their femininity. They weren’t confused about their gender. They weren’t denying who they were in order to fit into some pop-delusion being pushed on their sex. They were proud Christians, gun owners, and believers of the American dream. You were just as likely to hear about how women could be the future CEO of their own company as about them being future stay-at-home moms, and both occupations were treated with equal respect, without caveat.
They were American women, and they were proud of it. Moreover, they were engaged with the messaging. They wanted to talk about it and share these feelings. The cheers from the crowd during some moments were so deafening that I could feel my eardrums vibrating.
Another thing I was shocked by was the total lack of denigration of men. I realized I had so often seen “girl power” associated with putting down men that not hearing it in these situations felt alien. In fact, some speakers wove complimentarily and empowering statements toward men into their speeches. Radio show host Dana Loesch was escorted on stage by her eldest son, and at one point, she highlighted the importance of good conservative men.
The event wasn’t shy about relationships. A marriage to a good man was spoken about from time to time, but it defied leftist assumptions and accusations. Subservience was never pushed. It was all about partnerships that brought out the best in both. It was about a healthy family life that fulfilled both husband and wife. They treated both men and women as two respected sides of the same coin, not two divided groups with a victim/oppressor dynamic.
The fact that this was blowing my mind really gives me pause about the times we live in. It was a reminder that the filter being put on the country by mainstream culture is an illusion. America is still here, and I was standing right in the middle of it.
If you’re a young woman, I can’t recommend this summit enough. If you’re a man, I can’t recommend watching the playback enough either.