William Jewell College Feminist Club hosted Feminist Week on the WJC campus Feb. 13 to Feb. 17. The Executive cabinet of the Feminist Club sought to raise awareness of their organization and feminism through Feminist Week, and to disseminate the definition of “feminism”: the theory of political, social, and economic equality of the sexes. The organization screened the documentary “Trapped” and designed shirts to sell to the WJC community.
Seki Anderson, Vice President of Feminist Club and junior biochemistry major, described how the organization donated 50 percent of the funds raised through the shirt sales to an organization of the club’s choosing, Planned Parenthood. The shirts were printed with the phrase “Feminist with a to-do list,” with an intersectional symbol in the place of one of the letters in the word “feminist.” Anderson stated that Feminist Club sold more than twice the number of shirts during this year’s Feminist Week than last year. The shirts were sold through a table in Yates-Gill College Union which showcased a different feminist topic each day. Ayana Curran-Howes, President of Feminist Club and senior biology major, said this was to educate students about issues relating to feminism, such as the use of feminism to combat rape culture on college campuses and ecofeminism.
The other event that contributed to Feminist Week was the showing of “Trapped,” a documentary investigating ongoing legislation on abortion and birth control in the United States of America. The film addressed how these laws impact doctors, patients and women’s health clinics.
“We wanted to show this documentary because it was one of the most updated documentaries, and we believe it’s important for a college campus to know where our country currently stands on this subject,” Anderson said.
The importance of feminism on Jewell’s campus is just as relevant today as it was when the organization was founded, stated Sam Buhlig, secretary of Feminist Club and senior english and philosophy major. Both Anderson and Buhlig agree that the presence of feminism at WJC allows inclusive messages to be enforced and that the club creates a space for students’ voices to be heard. Intersectionality has also been a main influence within Feminist Club. The concept of intersectional feminism involves addressing the ways in which various types of oppression are interconnected. For Anderson, intersectional feminism, as a focus of Feminist Club, allows WJC students to recognize the issues within different communities on and off campus.
In the process of becoming more involved with Feminist Club, Anderson was surprised to discover that many college campuses do not have equivalent organizations. Becoming aware that her high school was beginning its own feminist organization inspired her more to make the Feminist Club a lasting presence on the WJC campus.
“It’s important to know we don’t know the answer of how to ‘do away’ with oppression; it’s ingrained in our society from the very beginning,” Anderson said. “We’ve had leaps and jumps of improvement throughout history, so it’s our obligation to continue that momentum.”
The Feminist Club was created in 2014 and is currently working with Student Life to aid in improving inclusion initiatives at WJC. Anderson, along with Hannah Payne, senior psychology and religion and culture major, and Luce-Virlynn Apollon, junior nursing major, worked with Student Life to redesign the Diversity and Inclusion segment of First-Year Orientation. The group focused this part of Orientation on the multicultural organizations of WJC, including the Black Student Association (BSA) and QUILTBAG. Anderson and her peers in Feminist Club, BSA and QUILTBAG are now communicating with Student Life about improved Title IX training.
Looking at this past semester, Buhlig has seen many of the issues discussed within Feminist Club intersect with discussions within BSA and QUILTBAG. He stated that intersectionality of issues relating to multicultural organizations can be the foundation for group discussions among these groups.
Anderson envisions Feminist Club becoming more action-driven in the future. She hopes that a continuation of meaningful dialogue and more time spent volunteering will work as a pathway to increased awareness and improved diversity inclusion. Anderson also stated that engaging with those who don’t promote an inclusionary environment is another integral step to take to promote more acceptance on the WJC campus.