Network of Enlightened Women

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Network of Enlightened Women (NeW) is a 501(c)(3) organization for conservative women on American college campuses. NeW was founded by Karin Agness Lips as a book club at the University of Virginia in 2004 and currently has 43 chapters.[1] The organization's stated mission is "cultivat[ing] a community of conservative women and expands intellectual diversity on college campuses through its focus on education. NeW members meet regularly to discuss issues related to politics, gender and conservative principles." Lips frequently uses the organization as a platform to attack mainstream feminism. She stated the organization pushes a brand of feminism which “focuses on deregulating the economy and getting government out of business so people can negotiate their own work arrangements.”[2]

NeW runs professional networks for right-wing women to meet and network during and after college.[3] In March 2018, Lips was named one of the "12 Activists and Influencers Who Define Modern-Day Feminism" by Yahoo! Lifestyle[4]

News and Controversies

Defense of Confederate Monuments

In 2018, Maggie Horzempa served as president of the University of North Carolina chapter of NeW and the College Republicans. During an appearance on Fox News, Horzempa complained about the removal of Silent Sam, a Confederate soldiers monument donated to the school by the United Daughters of the Confederacy in 1913. The statue was commemorated with a speech by a prominent Klan supporter who claimed that “100 yards from where the statue stood,” he had “horse-whipped a negro wench until her skirts hung in shreds.” Horzempa stated, “One thing that we cannot condone is the mob rule that took place." She decried the “vocal minority” that had “allowed anarchy to rule on our campus.”[1]

Gentleman Showcase Contest

NeW held a contest called the "Gentleman Showcase" for “young men [who] are polite, act with integrity, and treat everyone with the respect they deserve. These men of integrity rise above the trending misconception that all men are predators.” Winners can donate $1,000 to a charity of their choice, the 2018 winner Devin Sena stated "the Gentlemen Showcase is an important competition because it changes the conversation surrounding men. In the age of the #MeToo movement, we need masculine, chivalrous men more than ever.” Sena also donated to anti-choice organization the Human Coalition which seeks to dissuade pregnant women from having abortions.[5]

Heritage Foundation Panel Attacking Feminism

On March 31, 2014, the Heritage Foundation held a panel to honor Women’s History Month called “Evaluating Feminism, Its Failures, and Its Future.” NeW Founder Karin Agness Lips participated in the panel to spread her views that feminism is no longer needed in a world where women outnumber men on college campuses. Responding to an audience question on how men can engage in debates on women's issues, Lips responded that men should “forward columns from female conservative columnists” to urge the women to join the right-wing. Other participants at the panel waged similar attacks on feminism. Right-wing columnist Mona Charen stated “Millions of women have taken feminist advice and it’s led to unparalleled misery.”[6]

Forbes Op-Ed and #ShesConservative Campaign

In September 2016 and September 2017, NeW founder Karin Agness Lips published two op-eds in Forbes magazine. The first, released on September 12, 2016, was titled "Conservative Women Are The Underdogs On Campus," it argues conservative women are the targets of bullying and discrimination, particularly from liberal women. The op-ed began by stating that the discrimination and pressure faced by women in higher education in the 1970s would not be confronted today since women makeup 50 percent of entering law school classes and obtain the majority of bachelors degrees. In the midst of the 2016 presidential election, Lips claimed, "the irony of the current underdog story on college campuses is that it’s Clinton’s feminist standard-bearers who are often to blame for marginalizing conservative women." The founder of NeW called on college women to "stop hiding their conservative views and shout their conservatism" and announced the launch of a social media campaigned called "#ShesConservative."[7]

The second Forbes op-ed, released on September 29, 2017, was titled "Why Conservative Women Are Persisting." Lips criticized Michelle Obama's statement that "Any woman who voted against Hillary Clinton voted against their own voice.” She countered, "It is as if these former First Ladies believe no woman could ever choose to oppose a liberal politician if the politician happens to be a woman. And that if a woman decides to be conservative, she doesn’t count as a woman any longer." She also promoted the #ShesConservative campaign as an alternative to the #ShePersisted campaign which became popular in 2017 after Senator Mitch McConnell led the vote to silence Senator Elizabeth Warren's objections to confirmation of Senator Jeff Sessions as U.S. Attorney General.[8]

The #ShesConservative social media campaign features a forum for conservative college-aged women to share experiences about being ridiculed for their values. It also created videos of female university students recounting being called, “unintelligent,” “ignorant,” “uneducated,” “anti-women,” “stupid” and “heartless” when asked how people respond to finding out they are conservative. The campaign encouraged students to submit essays and distributed t-shirts on campuses stating "This is What a Conservative Looks Like."[7]

Criticism of Jennifer Lawrence Coat Controversy

In an op-ed for The Hill, Lips took issue with the commentators who attacked Jennifer Lawrence who wore a revealing dress to a movie promotion to an outdoor event in London during February. Commentators such as Helen Lewis, deputy editor of the New Statesman, tweeted, "True equality means either Jennifer Lawrence getting a coat, or Jeremy Irons having to pose for a photocall in assless chaps." Lips supported Lawrence's response that the controversy was overblown and it was her choice to wear the dress. Lawrence argued that "This is sexist, this is ridiculous, this is not feminism. Over-reacting about everything someone says or does, creating controversy over silly innocuous things such as what I choose to wear or not wear, is not moving us forward." Lips reprised her familiar attacks on feminism stating, "Lawrence is right. Finding sexism in everything isn’t feminism, or it shouldn’t be. Being offended by about everything has become synonymous with feminism today."[9]

Ties to the American Legislative Exchange Council

Several employees of NeW have also worked at the American Legislative Exchange Council. Taylor McCarty is a communications professional previously served as a public affairs coordinator at the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) and the campus program associate at NeW.[10]

NeW and ALEC were also both "Liberty" sponsors at the America's Future Foundation Annual Gala in 2016.[11]

Funding

NeW has recieved funding from the following donors:

Core Financials

2016[17]

  • Total Revenue: $416,946
  • Total Expenses: $349,019
  • Net Assets: $374,791

2015[17]

  • Total Revenue: $375,262
  • Total Expenses: $286,903
  • Net Assets: $306,864

2014[18]

  • Total Revenue: $245,260
  • Total Expenses: $238,043
  • Net Assets: $218,505

2013[18]

  • Total Revenue: $158,496
  • Total Expenses: $113,741
  • Net Assets: $211,288

Personnel

As of December 2018:[19]

Leadership

Board of Directors

Advisory Board

Contact Information

Network of Enlightened Women
Attn: Karin Agness Lips
1360 East Capitol Street NE
Washington, DC 20003
Email: info@enlightenedwomen.org
Telephone: (571) 318-9160
Website: https://enlightenedwomen.org/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/NeWNetwork?ref_src=twsrc%5Egoogle%7Ctwcamp%5Eserp%7Ctwgr%5Eauthor
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/EnlightenedWomen/

Articles and Resources

External Resources

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 Nancy Jo Sales, They Say We're White Supremacists: Inside the Strange World of Conservative College Women, Vanity Fair, December 2018.
  2. Alexandra Mondalek, Why this conservative woman believes we need 'a new brand of feminism', Yahoo! Lifestyle, March 8, 2018.
  3. Network of enlightened Women, NeW Professional Network, accessed December 31, 2018.
  4. Beth Greenfield, How 12 activists and influencers — from Padma Lakshmi to Tarana Burke — define modern-day feminism, Yahoo! Lifestyle, March 30, 2018.
  5. Corinne Clark, Millennial gentlemen do exist says the Network of Enlightened Women, The Washington Examine, March 14, 2018.
  6. Amanda Hess, Feminism Means Men Will Have Less Power. Deal With It, Heritage Foundation., Slate, April 1, 2014.
  7. 7.0 7.1 Karin Agness Lips, Conservative Women Are The Underdogs On Campus, Forbes, September 12, 2016.
  8. Karin Agness Lips, [Why Conservative Women Are Persisting, https://www.forbes.com/sites/karinagness/2017/09/29/why-conservative-women-are-persisting/#5fe441536c79], Forbes, September 29, 2017.
  9. Karin Agnes Lips, Popular feminism should learn from Jennifer Lawrence, The Hill, February 22, 2018.
  10. Taylor McCarty, Biography, accessed January 6, 2019.
  11. America's Future Foundation, The 2016 AFF Gala, accessed January 6, 2019.
  12. John William Pope Foundation, Our Grants, accessed January 6, 2019.
  13. Ken W. Davis Foundation, Recent Grants, accessed January 6, 2019.
  14. SourceWatch, Koch Family Foundations, accessed January 6, 2019.
  15. SourceWatch, Sarah Scaife Foundation, accessed January 6, 2019.
  16. SourceWatch, Contributions of the Bradley Foundation, accessed January 6, 2018.
  17. 17.0 17.1 Network of enlightened Women 2016 990 Form, 2016.
  18. 18.0 18.1 Network of enlightened Women 2014 990 Form, 2014.
  19. Network of enlightened Women, About, accessed December 30, 2018.