Network of enlightened Women

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Network of enlightened Women (NeW)
NeW logo
Founded 2004
Founder Karin Agness
Type Conservative college women's organization

The Network of enlightened Women (NeW) is an organization for culturally conservative women at American universities. Started as a book club at the University of Virginia in 2004, NeW seeks to cultivate "a community of conservative women and expands intellectual diversity on college campuses through its focus on education."

NeW members meet to discuss issues ranging from politics and gender to conservative principles. Since its founding, NeW has expanded to over 20 colleges campuses nationwide.[1] It has grown into the nation’s premier organization for conservative college women.


NeW was founded in September 2004 by Karin Agness as a book club at the University of Virginia (UVa). Agness found the feminist environment at UVa hostile to conservative women. "I loved being around other conservative women and wanted to find more women like that at UVa," said Agness, who hails from Indianapolis. "Unfortunately, all the women's groups on campus were really liberal and biased. And when I asked a [women's studies professor] if anybody would be interested in sponsoring a conservative women's group, she just laughed at me." In response, she founded NeW as an alternative to the liberal groups for women on campus. Within a year of its founding at UVa, NeW began to spread nationally.[2]


While NeW chapters continue to read books together to become better educated, their members also seek to engage their larger campus communities by hosting speakers, holding debates, promoting chivalrous behavior through a "Gentlemen’s Showcase," and challenging the controversial play The Vagina Monologues.

The national organization also hosts an annual national conference in Washington, DC each summer.

National conference[edit]

Each summer, NeW leaders, NeW supporters and those interested in learning more about NeW gather in Washington, DC for the annual NeW National Conference.[3] The 2010 conference brought more than 60 women together, and Christina Hoff Sommers (author of Who Stole Feminism? How Women Have Betrayed Women and The War Against Boys: How Misguided Feminism Is Harming Our Young Men) was the keynote speaker. The Heritage Foundation's Insider Magazine praised the conference, and noted that NeW women are "hard at work... bringing intellectual diversity back to campus", commending NeW for "rescuing feminism from the feminists."[4]

Gentlemen's Showcase[edit]

Each spring, NeW hosts the NeW Gentlemen’s Showcase, which is a national event recognizing and honoring gentlemen on college campuses. The event seeks to encourage mutual respect between the sexes on campuses. Nominees are submitted through Facebook and are voted on by students from all over the country. Some individual chapters also host their own college-wide contest.[5][6]

Jack Loonam, a freshman at The University of Georgia, was named NeW’s 2012 Gentleman of the Year in April 2012.[7] Alfonse Muglia, a junior at Cornell University was recognized in 2013, and Ivan Yim was recognized in 2014.[8]

In an op-ed in the Richmond Times-Dispatch, Agness discussed the Gentlemen's Showcase, concluding, "There are still gentlemen on college campuses. And with a little encouragement, there will be more. Instead of trying to change men on campus, we should seek to bring out the best in them. And this lesson applies to women as well."[9]

The Vagina Monologues and V-Day[edit]

NeW has attracted attention for its campaign against the performance of The Vagina Monologues and the corresponding observance of V-Day. NeW members, including Agness, wrote articles criticizing Eve Ensler's play as vulgar, demeaning, and offensive,[10] arguing that the explicit content and anatomical obsession of the play has made feminists "their own greatest enemy."[11]


NeW has been profiled in TIME,[2] The Washington Times,[12] Politico,[13] More magazine,[14] Townhall Magazine[15] and many other media outlets. In October 2006, the comic strip Mallard Fillmore featured NeW twice.[16]

Repeatedly, NeW has been praised for equipping young women on campus to engage in intellectual discussions and for representing a view of women and feminism that has for too long been silenced or ignored on the collegiate level. Writing in The Washington Times, Rebecca Hagelin called NeW "feminine defenders" and notes the increased interest in the work done by NeW ladies on college campuses all over the country.[17]

NeW chapters[edit]

NeW has more than 20 chapters across the United States, including at the University of Virginia, Cornell University, University of Florida, Arizona State University, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Ohio State University.[18]

Reading list[edit]

On the NeW website, the organization lists the following books as "suggested reading" for their book clubs:[19]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "About the Network of enlightened Women (NeW)". Network of enlightened Women. Retrieved 10 February 2011. 
  2. ^ a b Tracy Samantha Schmidt (12 June 2006). "What Would Ann Coulter Do?". TIME. 
  3. ^ "NeW National Conference". Network of enlightened Women. Retrieved 3 May 2011. 
  4. ^ Cristina Goizueta and Rachel Kopec (27 August 2010). "Who Is Saving Feminism?". Insider Magazine. Retrieved 3 May 2011. 
  5. ^ "NeW National Conference". Network of enlightened Women. Retrieved 3 May 2011. 
  6. ^ Brianna Gays (31 March 2011). "The Search for America's Top Gentleman". ABC News. Retrieved 3 May 2011. 
  7. ^ "The Many Uniforms of Jack Loonam". 13 April 2012. Retrieved 19 February 2012. 
  8. ^
  9. ^ Karin Agness (29 March 2011). "Gentlemen on Campus: University of Virginia Holds a Contest". Richmond Times-Dispatch. Retrieved 3 May 2011. 
  10. ^ Ramsey, Meredith (16 February 2006). "V is for Vulgar". Cavalier Daily. 
  11. ^ Agness, Karin (16 February 2006). "Feminists Have Become Their Own Worst Enemy". 
  12. ^ Alison Hoover (16 July 2006). "NEW Movement Sweeps College Campuses". The Washington Times. 
  13. ^ Helena Andrews (12 August 2008). "Young students fighting culture war". Politico. Retrieved 3 May 2011. 
  14. ^ Katie Pavlich (November 2010). "The New Feminism" (PDF). More. Retrieved 4 May 2011. 
  15. ^ Townhall Magazine (PDF). April 2010 Retrieved 4 May 2011.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  16. ^ See
  17. ^ Rebecca Hagelin (28 September 2009). "Fight campus feminist follies". The Washington Times. 
  18. ^ "NeW Chapters". Network of enlightened Women. Retrieved 3 May 2011. 
  19. ^ "NeW Book Club". Network of enlightened Women. Retrieved 3 May 2011. 

External links[edit]