Simpson participates in Women’s History Month; see events
March 16, 2017
INDIANOLA, Iowa — For the 28th year, Simpson College is participating in Women’s History Month with a variety of events to explore women’s past, present and future. The events include The F Word, focusing on feminism, What You Missed in Sex Ed, focusing on female anatomy and sexuality and many more.
What is feminism to you?
Women’s History Month and feminism are almost synonymous, and you can’t tell people about Women’s History Month without someone thinking, ‘Feminism, what is feminism?’ A simple definition of feminism is the theory of the political, economic and social equality of the sexes, but it can have different meanings for everyone.
Judy Walden, associate professor of history, sees feminism as a way for men and women to fight stereotyping.
“I’ll fall back on the standard definition. It’s the radical notion that women are people and deserve full human rights,” Walden said. “I also think that feminism for me means challenging gender stereotypes for both women and men. I think that feminism can be as emancipatory for men as it is for women because it allows them to not have to live up to a rigid masculine stereotype.”
Senior Britney Samuelson believes that feminism is about those who are not heard, being heard.
“Feminism is that women have equal opportunity that men have, and it’s also about realizing that there are voices that aren’t heard and lifting those up,” Samuelson said.
Nancy St. Clair, professor of English, views feminism as opportunity of choice and how choices are made for men versus for women.
“Feminism means that historically, women have been deprived of the same choices and opportunities as men have because of culturally created notions of gender and sex,” St. Clair said. “While there are differences between men and women, women should have simply the same opportunities as men do. Historically they haven’t had it, they should and they should make those choices for themselves.”
To see more definitions of feminism from others on campus, visit The F Word booth on March 14. (See below for more.)
History of Simpson’s Women’s History Month
St. Clair has been at Simpson for 26 years, and she remembers when Women’s History Week was celebrated and when it changed to Women’s History Month. She said that Simpson was one of the first small colleges to have a lecture dedicated to women, the Women in America Lecture.
What some people may not know is that the Women in America Lecture was spearheaded by two male professors on campus.
“It’s really important for people to know, especially those who are resistant to feminism, the Women in America Lecture was initiated by two male professors: Bruce Haddox, Roger Betsworth,” St. Clair said.
St. Clair said that many people assume men are threatened by feminism, but hopes that by giving Haddox and Betsworth credit for beginning this lecture people will see that this assumption is not correct.
“They really pushed for having this lecture and for hiring more female faculty members,” St. Clair said. “I benefited from that a great deal. When I started here, you could count the women teaching at Simpson on one hand.”
Women’s History Month Events on Campus
Ladies Who Lead
Organized by Samuelson, Ladies Who Lead was a panel of five women in Iowa who are leaders in their field who met to discuss what is has been like to be a strong female presence in their field, what it is like managing family and
Samuelson said that she was inspired to create this event because in the fall, there was a lack of female senators in the Student Government Association. She said she is glad that she can say she is no longer the only female senator this year; this includes Student Body President Syndey Samples.
Samuelson said that she thinks that the event went well, referencing the 90-person turnout, and thinks that the panelists were engaging with the audience.
“I think the event went really well. The panelists talked about great things, about women needing to take risks more, the importance of finding a life partner, and their experiences with sexism. To me it felt like the panelists were your best friend and you could talk to them forever. They were very personal and inspiring,” Samuelson said.
America and the Pill: Women in America Lecture
To go along with Simpson’s Women’s History Month theme, Reproductive Rights, Reproductive Justice, the Women in America Lecture was given March 1 by Elaine Tyler May, author of “America and the Pill.” May used her time during the lecture to educate the attendees of the history of contraceptives, references much of what she said is in her book.
May said that with the appearance of contraceptives came a power that women had never held. She said that women were then asking for prescriptions and taking charge of their sexual health.
“The feminist movement opened doors for women, and the pill allowed women to walk through those doors, allowing them to reliably control their fertility,” May said.
The lecture was well attended and was met with a responsive audience.
The F Word
The F Word is a yearly event where students, faculty and staff can write what feminism means to them and place it on the wall covering the Kent Black Box. This event was held from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on March 14.
There will be a booth set out in front of the Black Box for discussions.
“Playhouse Creatures,” directed by Mimi Kammer, assistant professor of theater, the show takes place in 1669, and it follows five real women working in a theater at the time. Audiences get to follow the ups and downs of the women experienced working in the Restoration period, a time tough on female actors, as well as women in general. The show promises a moving and sometimes comic account of their lives.
The show runs March 17-19 in Pote Theatre. There will be a talkback featuring Simpson’s Feminist Club and the Women’s Resource Center directly following the Saturday night performance.
#BeBoldForChange: Pieces About Women
Alpha Psi Omega Zeta Gamma Cast, Simpson’s honorary theater fraternity, will be hosting the second annual Pieces About Women. This year the theme for the event uses the International Women’s Day theme, #BeBoldForChange. This event is a talent-show style performance where students from all of campus were invited to perform any form of art about being bold to encourage change or about women.
The performance is March 21 at 7:30 p.m. in the Kent Black Box. It is encouraged, but not required, that people bring feminine hygiene products to give.
Every product brought in will be an entry into a raffle.
What You Missed in Sex Ed
“What You Missed in Sex Ed” will be held in Hubbell Hall on March 23 from 7-10 p.m. Senior Olivia Samples organized this event as a safe space to learn about the female body, sexuality and more.
“I’m hoping that women leave with a sense of empowerment about their bodies, choices and sex lives,” Samples said.
Samples has arranged for a variety of women from Eyes Open Iowa, One Iowa and SARA to lead these conversations.
The event is only available to women and queer-identifying people on campus. Admission to the event is a feminine hygiene product that will be donated to Children and Families of Iowa.
Reproductive Rights Under Threat: A Panel Discussion
The Reproductive Right Under Threat: A Panel Discussion to Pioneer Conference Room will be held March 27. This will be an informational conversation open to students, staff and faculty to discuss the current debate for reproductive rights. The event starts at 7 p.m.