On Wednesday, Jan. 30, students interested and concerned about issues concerning gender inequality came out to “St. Mary’s Speaks: Gender and Gender Inequality,” held in Cole Cinema. This is a continuation of St. Mary’s Speaks, the program run through the Student Government Association (SGA) Programs Board, which gives students the opportunity to speak about issues on campus. This particular lecture was given in conjunction with Feminists United for Sexual Equality (FUSE). The purpose of this program was to teach about and combat issues that women face within the workplace and in our society.
There were multiple speakers for this event, all of whom were members of FUSE. This included first-year Hannah Trimble, junior Hannah Felperin, Treasurer and sophomore Maria Duke, and President of FUSE, junior Emma Kaufman. While the topics covered were typically very serious, the environment during the presentation was one of learning. Kaufman remarked, “I consider myself to be a very avid feminist, yet I harbor many preconceived notions that must be examined. The truth is, we should never stop learning. Events like St. Mary’s Speaks ensures that important knowledge is spread outside of the classroom, and I was honored to be a part of that.” There were jokes made during the presentation to bring about a lighthearted nature and make everyone feel comfortable.
The program even included a portion at the end of the scheduled material for all in attendance to speak their minds on questions posed about the words “feminism” and “intersexuality.” These questions produced lots of comments from the audience which created a discussion that added to the event.
The ideas spoken about covered a vast range of topics from what gender is to problems that women face within the work environment. This lecture worked to show the differences in treatment that women must face that men do not. Within the workforce, women have lower confidence, are subject to double standards, are much more likely to be sexually harassed, and do not get the same amount of raises that men do. Kaufman commented that she “personally learned a great deal last night, including intriguing details on squirting, the hymen, and intersex individuals.” Consent within a sexual situation was also discussed to help teach all those who were and were not familiar with the concept to gain more knowledge and understand it to a better extent.
Emma Kaufman commented on the talk saying that the type of conversations held “inspire much needed dialogue on this campus – conversations that explore harmful stereotypes regarding gender and question what we all take for granted about sexuality.”
The conversation about these issues will not stop here, as Kaufman stated, “FUSE plans to partner with the WGSX [Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies] program on campus to hold a college-wide forum on the prevention of sexual assault at St. Mary’s. I want to invite students, professors, and Health Center counselors to participate in a conversation that will hopefully make this school a safer space for everyone.” In the meantime, to participate more in the discussion of gender and sexuality attend a FUSE meeting. Meetings are held on Mondays 9p.m. in the basement of Queen Anne Hall.