“What’s up with the ‘F’ word?”
The provocative statement is the official title of the Flora Stone Mather Center for Women’s first social media campaign for feminism – the Case Western Reserve University version of the national “Who Needs Feminism” campaign, which originated at Duke University and has now spread across the country.
The main organizers of the campaign and undergraduate student assistants at the Flora Stone Mather Center for Women, Radhika Mehlotra and Tessa Greene, are hoping that the catchy title will draw more than just its usual following of supporters advocating for women’s rights, and ultimately convey a more universal presence of the word “feminism” on campus.
“The reason we decided to have this event is because the word seems really taboo on campus,” Mehlotra said.
“We decided it would be a good place to start a conversation in terms of what the word really means.”
The campaign will kick off in the Nord atrium on Nov. 13 from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. by inviting passersby to voluntarily reveal why they need feminism in their lives, regardless of age or gender, and become the star of a campaign poster.
“Our vision of the ‘Who Needs Feminism’ campaign will be taking dry erase boards that say ‘I need feminism because’ on the top and allow people to have the opportunity to write in their own reason,” Greene said.
“If they’re comfortable, we’ll take a photo and feature the person on our campaign posters, which we will be using next semester,” she said. “If they’re not comfortable, we’ll have a big poster where people could write their reasons why they need feminism without having to take their photo.”
This aspect of the campaign is not unique to CWRU. Variations of the “Who Needs Feminism” campaign have been using the dry erase board photo advertisement as a way to empower advocates and demystify the word at the national level since it began.
“A lot of times you can’t state a fact about why feminism is good, so you have to tell people why it’s important to you or the people in your life,” Greene said.
“Our end goal is to take away anything that would be offensive about the word feminism,” Mehlotra said.
“Historically, it’s been so radical. All the word really means is that women deserve equal rights to men,” she said. “Not that women are superior to men, (but) that we’re just equal.”
The Flora Stone Mather Center for Women’s Associate Director for Programs, Amanda Kenney, is also one of the main organizers of the event. “Feminism isn’t only a women’s movement,” she said. “Men can definitely be feminists too.”
Still relatively new to the CWRU campus, the Center was established in October 2003 by Dorothy Miller, current Director of the Flora Stone Mather Center for Women and faculty member at the Mandel School of Applied Social Sciences. The center now resides in the Thwing Student Center.
While the center celebrates female students, faculty, staff, community and alumnae, men are always welcomed, Kenney noted.
“It’s so gendered,” Mehlotra said, when asked why CWRU needs feminism.
“Our campus is extremely gendered in terms of our academics, and I think that everyone feels that. But in my four years, I’ve never seen anyone do anything about it,” she said. “I think that is my number one reason that CWRU needs feminism – because the women here are great.”