Workshop discusses history and future of feminism

Students gathered Monday, March 12 for the workshop “Feminist Leadership and Social Movements”, led by special events programmer of the Women’s Resource Center Mindy Holmes.

The workshop is a part of the many events scheduled by the Women’s Resource Center for Women’s History Month. The purpose of this event was to discuss the history of feminism, its current standpoints and challenges, and what to hope for in the future of the feminist movement.

The workshop began with a presentation by Holmes, in which she discussed each wave of the feminist movement. Topics such as the path towards all women’s suffrage in the United States, the impact of Title IX in education, and the equal pay act were discussed. In addition, prominent figures throughout each wave of feminism that contributed to significant change in the movement were included in the presentation.

Holmes also made sure to emphasize the inherent racism, transphobia and homophobia the feminist movement has had challenges with since its foundation, and continues to be a prominent issue in modern day feminism. An activity that all attendants participated in included a worksheet describing each person and people that they were close with (such as friends, romantic partners, coworkers, professors, etc.). Participants were to fill out the personal identities of those significant people in the participant’s life such as race, gender, sexuality, ability status, citizenship and religion in order to think about whether or not participants were practicing intersectionality in their everyday lives.

Junior social work major Neenu Abraham came to the event in order to listen to what Holmes had to say about her perspectives on feminism. 

“I wanted to see what her [Holmes] definition of feminism is, because I feel like everyone has different definitions of feminism and what’s most important to them,” they said.

Abraham also discussed their satisfaction in attending a workshop that embraced inclusion. 

“I liked that she drilled in over and over about trans people and about people of color and the importance of intersectionality, because I feel like you really don’t hear about that too often especially in workshops like this,” they said. 

Holmes explained her goals for the event and what she wanted the participants to take away from the discussion. 

“I wanted to help people gain a better understanding of what feminism actually means. I wanted people to learn the history of the movement and challenges within the movement both historically and currently, and how we can use that to improve our feminism in the future by including women of color and queer and trans women,” she said.

She continued by discussing her awareness of her privileges and how that can affect perceptions on what feminism means. 

“If your feminism isn’t intersectional, then it’s not really feminism…I can say this as a white cis het [cisgender and in a heterosexual relationship] woman,” she said. “We don’t take the time to think about experiences other than our own.” 

Holmes concluded the discussion by expressing her wish that the workshop be conducted by a queer woman of color, as she cannot truly speak to the level of oppression that many women face and be able to present the topic with a full understanding of intersectionality because of this.

The Women’s Resource Center will conclude the month with a Queer Femme Social March 26 from 6:30 p.m. - 9 p.m. in the Intersection Room (Student Center 266), and Reclaiming Our Time: Repositioning Women of Color on March 27 from 5:30 p.m. - 9 p.m. in the McKenny Ballroom.

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