Cleveland Women’s March impacts campus

On Jan. 20, thousands of people gathered in Cleveland Public Square for the second annual Cleveland Women’s March. The gathering marked the one-year anniversary of the inauguration of President Donald Trump.

“The Women’s March was one of the most amazing experiences I’ve had,” said first-year student Diana Zavela. “As we marched around downtown Cleveland, I was surrounded by so many energetic, amazing people. We did a lot of chants as we walked, talked politics and traded compliments. Everyone I met was so nice and so passionate, and it gave me a lot of hope for the future.”

The Cleveland Women’s March promoted ideas including equality, LGBT acceptance and feminism.

“Feminism is a very complicated word,” said Lisa Nielson, Director of the Flora Stone Mather Center for Women. “Feminism has sort of become this sort of bugbear to a few where they’re like, it only means ‘man-hating women,’ but I know a lot of men who would categorize themselves as feminists.”

Zavela agreed with Nielson, and said the Cleveland Women’s March empowered her values.

“Feminism makes me more keenly aware of social situations and passive sexism,” she said. “Instead of accepting a side comment that someone makes, I will point it out and say that wasn’t okay. I make an effort to support women and girls pursuing their dreams, and try to help my friends when they fall down.”

The Flora Stone Mather Center for Women seeks to further this sense of advocacy on campus. Nielson explained that the Center’s goal for the next year is to continue to promote dialogue regarding feminism and the role of equality in today’s society.

“[Feminism] is a concept, a theory,” she said. “It’s constantly in flux and it needs that.”

Nielson, a historical musicologist with a specialization in women’s studies, is a full-time music lecturer and SAGES fellow.

“We were unpacking [promotion of gender equality] just last week in one of my classes,” she said. “We had a very lively discussion of it; I always feel that dialogue itself is always good. We don’t have to agree, we don’t have to reach a consensus, but that’s just the nature of critical thinking.”