As the month of March comes to an end, so does Women’s History Month, but the search to understand and benefit from the history of women continues.
“It’s very empowering to know that you are a part of a larger history. And when women discover their own history, it’s a very exciting perspective to have, to know that you belong somewhere. It helps us know who we are,” said LindaVan Ingen, director of the Women’s Studies Program.
“For Women’s History Month, we’ve tried to present programs and events that represent different aspects of women’s life, gender roles, sexuality, safety and aggression issues,” Van Ingen said.
The Women’s Studies program put on the annual celebration of events planned on the theme ‘Writing Women Back Into History’ and included discussion groups, film festivals and rape aggression defense training.
“Women Studies itself looks at knowledge and society from a woman’s prospective. Then what Women’s History Month does is focus on the continuity between women’s lives now and the past, as well as the discontinuity,” Van Ingen said.
The topics of the round table discussions included women and sexuality and modern gender roles.
Van Ingen said that education seemed to be a common theme at the modern gender roles discussion. “A lot of students are first generation college students, and so going to college was a big difference between their lives and their parent’s lives. Even for many of the students whose parents did go to college, their expectations for themselves were still high.”
“As we discussed things, we came to appreciate that moms had knowledge even though maybe some of them didn’t finish high school or go to college. They had other kinds of knowledge about life, cooking, domestic work and spirituality,” Van Ingen said.
At the discussion, participants also discussed how society constructs gender roles. “The society you live in, in many ways shapes what it means to be a man and what it means to be a woman,” Van Ingen said.
Van Ingen said she asked students to discuss what they expect in relationships, whether they are submissive, dominant or strive for equality. She said that the older generation tended to have more authority in their relationships, and that others had religious convictions, which shaped their views. Most agreed that, ideally the relationship would be equitable, where each partner shared the resources and the chores.
Monday’s event, Rape Aggression Defense Training, was sponsored by the Office of Multicultural Affairs and put on by campus security.