News

Feminist Student Union promotes equality and empowerment

By: CHRISTINE GIVER

Staff Writer

It has been said that this is a man’s world, but thanks to the Feminist Student Union (FSU) and other groups that promote gender equality, the strengths and abilities of women are able to shine a little brighter.

Briauna Gaffney is one of the presidents of FSU.

“The mission of the Feminist Student Union on campus is to promote equality and feminism,” Gaffney said. “Students should get involved because we will be organizing some fun activities on campus, and it is a great way to make friends and make a difference.”

Gaffney added that they are just wrapping up their annual Clothesline Project, which is an outdoor display of shirts hanging from clotheslines inscribed with messages from sexual assault survivors started to call attention to violence against women.

The term “feminism” has sometimes carried a negative connotation, and Gaffney wants to change that.

“Anyone and everyone are welcome at FSU meetings and events, and men can be feminists,” she said. “We at FSU are open to answering any questions about what feminism is and what we do on campus.”

Recently the outrage in Hollywood over accusations of a huge sexual assault coverup involving producer Harvey Weinstein and others birthed a new online movement. Women began posting on social media with the hashtag #MeToo, which indicated that they had also experienced sexual harassment or assault. Some that have come out chose to name their attacker, while others did not.

“It shows just how many of us have been a victim of this, and there is a unity in that because it shows that no one is alone in this and that sexual assault and sexual harassment is a big problem in society today,” Gaffney said.

She added that she feels it is important for victims to feel safe in naming their attacker, but if someone is not ready to talk about it they should not be forced to do so.

A big issue in today’s society that leads to harassment and assault is sexualization, especially of women and children.

“For me personally, it angers me and makes me afraid of how much women are sexualized in society because I can’t even walk on my street without getting cat called and I do not feel safe to walk by myself in my own neighborhood,” Gaffney said.

She recalled a situation where, after ignoring cat calls from a man in a car, the man pulled out in front of her and would not move until she agreed to give him her phone number. Many other women have experienced similar situations.

Despite these continued problems, some things are looking up for women today. More and more women are pursuing STEM fields as a career. Companies such as Cards Against Humanity have encouraged this pursuit by offering scholarships for young women who are specifically pursuing degrees in these fields.

The Feminist Student Union meets on Wednesdays at 5:30 p.m. in the Women’s and Gender Studies lounge on the second floor of Wiekamp Hall.

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