Monday, February 23, 2009

Empowering Women in Athens

by Julia Woehrle

Feminisim has come a long way, but Ohio University's Empowering Women of Ohio or EWO wanted to show in its second-annual Empowered Woman's Week that there are still a variety of issues people have to learn more about.

Educate and Show Women's Talent
From Valentine's Day through this past Sunday EWO and other women's groups on campus held daily events - from presenting women in sports and religion, to discussions about inter-generational and male feminism. Emily Dunlap, treasurer for Women Acting for Change (WAC), says "It's something we don't think about enough. We're the generation that gets told that feminism isn't necessary. So I think it's important to show yes, it still is."

Uniting Groups at Ohio University
EWO's president Lacey Rogers says one of the goals of the Empowered Woman's Week was to reach out to the different groups on campus. She said: "In the end we work on a lot of similar issues." Besides EWO and WAC, organizations like the LGBT Center, the Women's Center, SHADES and Open Doors collaborated for the events.

Emily Dunlap of Women Acting for Change (WAC) speaks about feminism today.

Sexy Bodies and Other Issues
Dunlap says that one of the major issues for WAC is the image of the female body. "How we are portrayed in the media and how we perceive ourselves that hypersexualization of the female body, we talked about that a lot," she said.

Other topics in the discussions included the similarities between different generations of feminism and how most of the issues like sexual abuse and equal pay are still important today, Dunlap said.

The Ledbetter Act and Equity Bake Sales
President Obama addressed one very important issue for women when he signed his very first bill as president: The Lilly Ledbetter Equal Pay Restoration Act.

"It is upholding one of this nation's founding principles: that we are all created equal and each deserves a chance to pursue our own version of happiness," Mr. Obama said in his speech. But Rogers says that EWO wants to point out that this pay equality has not been reached yet with their Gender Equity Bake Sales. To draw attention to this inequality men have to pay more for the EWO pastries.

Men as Feminists
For Rogers one of the most surprising things of the Empowered Women's Week was the engagement of some male feminists who spoke at a male feminist panel discussion: "Some of them were really passionate about issues like sexual violence that typically happen to women. It was really cool to see that they were willing to sit down and say - hey you need to think about this," she said. Rogers also said that she hopes that more men will get engaged with her group in the future, because it would help EWO to reach out to and educate other men.

Empower Women of Ohio President Lacey Rogers speaks about male feminists

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