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April 6, 2001

Under the sponsorship of the Women’s Center, some 65 registered participants joined a conference on practical feminist politics addressing the assertion, “Feminism is Stupid.” Organized by three seniors and sophomore, the conference included workshops, discussions and a keynote address by African-American feminist writer Barbara Smith, author of Writings on Race, Gender and Freedom: The Truth Never Hurts (1998) and editor of Home Girls: A Black Feminist Anthology (1983).

A panel discussion included Professor of Political Science Mary L. Shanley, Professor of Art Lisa Collins, Professor of Sociology Diane Harriford, Rachel Simmons ’96 and the founder of Brooklyn’s Black Girl Revolution, Brigette M. Moore. Tracing the history of feminism and observing “in 1971, it seemed like things would change quickly, and they didn’t so much,” Professor Shanley underscored a major theme of the conference: the importance of “intersectionality” in addressing discrimination. Professor Harriford agreed, observing that “people talk about feminism as if it is joining a sorority” and that students still asked her “what does racism have to do with feminism?” She asserted that the mainstreaming of feminism weakened the recognition of social inequality as a function of structures of oppression in favor of personalizing feminism as many middle-class feminists had done.

Proceeds from the conference went to the Manuela Ramos Movement, a Peruvian organization funding counseling centers battered women shelters and family planning centers throughout Peru. The group’s funding was recently cut off by President Bush’s reinstatement of the “Mexico City Policy,” a strategy formulated by President Ronald Reagan in 1984, effectively banning all international aid to groups providing advice, counsel or information regarding abortion. The Miscellany News

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