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Feminism

Dear Amy,

I recently acquired the Women's Issues Director position at the university I attend. This is a new position for the campus, and I am the first director. This puts me in a unique situation, as I can mold it into whatever I want. The majority of my campus is female, so I do not think that I will have a problem with support. However, I consider this to be a feminist's position, and I am not a feminist. Do you know of any issues that I could deal with, or any issues that the female community faces that I could educate myself and my constituents on? In addition, do you know of any resources that I could contact to help educate myself? Thank you so much.

Sincerely,
Amanda

 

Dear Amanda,

I just spent the weekend at the National Women's Studies Association annual conference and one of the caucuses was on Women's Centers. My guess is that you should reach out to this network to find out what others have and haven't done.

I'm not sure why you don't consider yourself a feminist - perhaps it's a misinterpretation of what it means or something else - but based on your email, I actually don't see any reason why you aren't a feminist. I recently co-wrote a book, Manifesta: Young Women, Feminism & the Future, which includes a chapter - "What is Feminism?" that might be helpful - you can access an excerpt at Feminist.com.

Regardless, I think the label is secondary to the work behind the label and though you might not consider yourself feminist, providing this space and attention to women and women's issues is a feminist act. To maximize this position, I suggest you start by reaching out to every community of women - from athletes to sorority sisters. I'm not sure what your university offers, but on many campuses, the problem seems to be that women are divided by minor differences rather than being united in the many things they have in common. Your position could bring them together, which requires hosting forums that speak to everyone or whoever is willing to listen. Perhaps you could start by implementing something into the new student orientation. You could find everything that exists on campus for women and make sure they have this information. You could start a big sister program - asking older students to be big sisters to incoming students and could host events around this.

I hope that helps to get you thinking - and congratulations on this appointment.

Amy


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