BALOG COLUMN: Yes, there are feminists in Charleston
Do you believe that women and men should be paid equally for equal work?
Do you believe that people of all genders deserve equal treatment?
What about the idea that both women and men should hold elected office?
Then congratulations, you are a feminist, and you should plan on attending tonight's inaugural “Yes! I am a Feminist” event from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at The Halsey Institute of Contemporary Art, 161 Calhoun St.
The event is a celebration of feminism and a chance to honor the women's and gender studies program at the College of Charleston. Alison Piepmeier, director of the program at the college, is quick to give credit for tonight's event to the program's advisory board, a core group of people dedicated to being ambassadors for the program in the community. They found the 100 or so “hosts” for the event, all people who were willing to donate money to celebrate and support feminism — and who support the women and gender studies program at the college.
It's also a great way to kick off Women's History Month, which starts Friday.
Not a four-letter word
There's already a sponsors waiting list for 2014.
“These are folks from the Charleston community who identify as feminist, in whatever way that means to them,” Piepmeier said.
And those folks are of various backgrounds, various political leanings.
And they're not afraid, not just to affirm but to embrace, the notion of feminism.
“It's so funny to me that feminist is this term that we're still afraid of. I think all the things that feminism means to me are all the things most of us, no matter our political leanings, would be on board with.”
And she's right. In practical terms, feminism is a fairly human approach to, well, everything.
Or, to put it another way, “getting rid of things that keep people from fully realizing their humanity,” she said. Of course, this is South Carolina, where some folks wrongly equate feminism with liberalism. But that's not the case. After all, Jenny Sanford is one of the sponsors.
Tonight's event is about recognition and awareness for the program that is now bigger than some of C of C's foreign language programs and about the same as philosophy and religious studies programs.
Financial difficulties often go hand-in-hand with growing pains, and this case is no different.
Piepmeier has eight students whose original research has been selected for presentation at a conference, but funding that trip will not be easy. And the other types of things coordinated by the program, such as bringing in top-notch speakers like Bell Hooks and Angela Davis and hosting community forums, all take time and money. So, even though it is free to attend tonight's event, donations will certainly be accepted.
“We want this event to be a space where everybody's welcome,” Piepmeier said. “That's what we want the program to be—welcome to everybody.”
For more information, check out yesimafeminist.com.
Reach Melanie Balog at 937-5565 or firstname.lastname@example.org.