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More Than Feminine Mystique

Women’s Resource Center provides a place for gender equality at BU

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Meghan Faulkner (CAS'11) (center photo) says the Women's Resource Center is a great place to hang out, study, or check out a book. "There are a lot of events happening this semester," she says. Photos by Kimberly Cornuelle

When Mackie Welch arrived on campus almost four years ago, she realized that something was missing.

“Looking at other schools, I saw that they had women’s centers. At BU, I noticed they didn’t have one,” says Welch (CAS’09). “I wanted to know why.”

Seeking community, Welch joined BU’s Voices for Planned Parenthood affiliate instead, where she found other people who wanted to create a place for women on campus.

Now, the Boston University Women’s Resource Center is a reality. A ribbon-cutting ceremony for the center, located in the basement of the George Sherman Union, was held in October.

This isn’t the first women’s center on BU’s campus; in the 1970s, women’s centers opened at colleges and universities across the country, most heralding the radical notion of equality for women, others simply providing a space where women could feel safe. Boston University joined the trend, but the space itself didn’t last.

“It was a small space, and only fit about three people,” says Rhiannon Roberts (CAS’02), department administrator in the College of Arts and Sciences modern languages and comparative literature department. “We didn’t meet there very often.”

But this isn’t the ’70s, and the Women’s Resource Center isn’t just a new space; it reflects the ideas of a new generation, says codirector Welch, who runs the center with codirector Carrie Chiusano (COM’09). “In the ’70s, the centers created were very women-centered, but when we were establishing our space, a lot of the issues were more gender-related.”

But for Welch, it’s having the space that’s important.

“It’s good to have this place where you’re comfortable talking about these issues,” she says. “And men are welcome, even as volunteers. If people want to have certain discussions that aren’t exactly about women or feminism, we welcome that — unless it’s blatantly anti-women.”

For anyone interested, this is the semester to get involved in the dialogue, according to center member Meghan Faulkner (CAS’11). “We welcome volunteers, and anyone who just wants to hang out,” she says. “There are a lot of events happening this semester.”

Tonight, the center is presenting its first monthly Honored Artist Award, to Erin O’Leary (CFA’09). The award recognizes BU visual artists whose art considers the ideas of women, gender, or sexuality, and a monthlong gallery exhibition by the artist will be shown at the center. The event starts at 6 p.m. in the center.

Other upcoming activities include a book club every Monday at 6:30 p.m. — among the readings are The Virgin Suicides, by Jeffrey Eugenides, Conquest: Sexual Violence and American Indian Genocide, by Andrea Smith, and Towelhead, by Alicia Erian. There will also be an event for V-Day, an organization working to end violence against women, which sponsors events on Valentine’s Day, in conjunction with the BU student group Athena’s Players. The group is performing The Vagina Monologues at the Tsai Performance Center on Friday, February 13, and Saturday, February 14.

During the week of February 23 through 27, the center is hosting G-Word — a weeklong series of events discussing and looking at gender from many perspectives. G-Word is being held in collaboration with BU’s student group Spectrum and the LQBTQ ministries at Marsh Chapel. On Monday, February 23, Erin Davies will speak about homophobia in America and her new documentary, Fagbug.

The Women’s Resource Center, in the George Sherman Union basement, 775 Commonwealth Ave., is open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday, and during special events. For more information, contact buwomen@gmail.com, or visit the center’s Facebook page.

Kimberly Cornuelle can be reached at kcornuel@bu.edu.

14 Comments

14 Comments on More Than Feminine Mystique

  • Anonymous on 02.06.2009 at 10:03 am

    wow. gender eqaulity by creating a segrigated center for women only. bravo.

  • kcornuelle on 02.06.2009 at 10:07 am

    re: wow

    did you read the story?? it’s not for women only. it’s a place where women can find the resources to become equally represented in society, because last time I checked, they aren’t.

  • amlaskow on 02.06.2009 at 10:50 am

    Great resource

    I never would have known about the Women’s Center, what a great resource on the BU Campus. What kind of volunteer opportunities are there?

  • Anonymous on 02.06.2009 at 11:53 am

    When’s the men’s center opening at Bu?

  • kcornuelle on 02.06.2009 at 1:07 pm

    re: When's the men's center

    well, if it’s on the same track as the amount of time it took to open the women’s center, about five years. good luck.

  • Anonymous on 02.06.2009 at 1:29 pm

    BU's anachronistic pride

    BU as institution has always loved the idea of itself as preserviing some kind of apolitical intellectual standard. I suspect his is why there are 3 bachelors degree options in classics but none in African-American Studies, Women’s Studies, or Gender Studies, as is standard among our competitor and aspirant schools. Silber always said “we don’t do ideological curricula” or something to that effect. The truth is, all aspects of university experience are politically loaded, despite whatever universalisms we’d love to espouse.

    I hope this example of BU’s new willingness to address a social anachronism will lead to an examination of the academic oversights.

  • Joe on 02.06.2009 at 2:52 pm

    equal representation

    Women are not “equally represented” in society ? You mean as boxers? or on death row ? in drug rehabilitation centers? they are overly represented at abortion clinics , maternity wards , etc. woman have simply a different , not an inferior, place in society as compared to men – but they will never be content until they dominate everything and then can have as much blood on their hands as men have – so put women at the front line of all the fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan, assign them , equally , as police to all the most violent neighborhoods, let them fill ,equally, all the most hazardous areas of coal mines, etc. as long as their equal representation is equal in all areas will equal representation represent anything like fairness – what women generally want is all the frosting and none of the hazardous grudgery of the male experience, they only see the fifteen minute stars and do not regard that the majority of males have the arm pit of experience – BTW nothing in the article says the center is not JUST for women – its like senior (as in old) housing – its a “safe” place …. no high rise window washing there oh yeah thats just for men

  • Anonymous on 02.06.2009 at 7:04 pm

    “”did you read the story?? it’s not for women only. it’s a place where women can find the resources to become equally represented in society, because last time I checked, they aren’t.”"

    yup you are corect. Women have way too many advantages right now in employment, pay, job security, laws that unfairly treat men to overly protect women, divorce court laws…
    Women earn more than men by 5-7k starting out of college in fields of science, math, etc. because companies are scared out of their minds to get sued for discrimination, Obama just made that even worse this past week.
    Oh yeah, for one other example… over 80% of the jobs lost since this ‘recession’ have been men… could you imagine the crap stories nazifeminists groups would be publishing if it were the other way around…

    keep ignoring the facts and cry inequality and use outdated and COMPLETELY ignorant numbers that feminist scream to the public.

    the desire for equality has turned into a horrible thirst for dominance

  • Trelawney on 02.06.2009 at 10:41 pm

    wonderful

    Actually, the Anna Howard Shaw Center in the STH building is also a wonderful space for women (and pro-feminist men) to feel safe. Perhaps it is hard for men to understand how important it is, in a man’s world, to have places that are there to make women feel safe and honored. I think that’s why women go to the bathroom in groups – it’s a man-free zone, and so it feels like a bit of a rest, a haven from a man’s world. I’m proud of BU for expanding this important aspect of its programming.

  • Darwininan Feminist Marxist on 02.07.2009 at 12:14 am

    Dear Equal Representation:

    Regarding:

    what women generally want is all the frosting and none of the hazardous grudgery of the male experience

    Yes. This is what human beings want.

    And the more inequality there is between all humans, the more it is the case that some (mostly men) have all the frosting and none of the drudgery, while at the bottom, mostly men are foot soldiers and die.

    More specifically:

    Some high-status men have a lot of frosting and none of the drudgery. Next, some high-status women have some frosting and not too much drudgery Next, some low status women have no frosting and some drudgery. At the bottom, are the low status men who have no frosting and all drudgery.

    So how do we change things?

    Empowering women is a way to change things, because women reduce inequality between men. When women are down, they can’t choose male partners, and they’re forced to marry and be concubines (second and third wives) to high status men. When women have power, they can choose to pair-bond with just one man, keeping low-status men from risky stuff like enlisting in an army to get a chance to raise their status.

    If decisions of power allocation are left to men, you just get mate-hoarding by the alpha males and everyone else servants and slaves.

    Signed, “Darwininan Feminist Marxist”

  • Anonymous on 02.07.2009 at 1:55 pm

    re: When's the men's center

    It’s at 226 bay State Road… The History Department.

  • Anonymous on 02.07.2009 at 8:43 pm

    To the last poster, I’d just like to say you’re an imbecile. Women get less pay for the same jobs, and there is still definitely still discrimination against them in the academic world as well as any other social scene. They are also literally not “equally represented” in terms of the political scene, if you can even stomach imagining our government officials as representatives of us. Of course they have a “different place” in society than men, because they are two different genders defined by us as different. However, those who have female genitalia or appear outwardly female are generally believed to be less mentally adept by males. I have experienced/witnessed this first hand, many many times.

    By the way, I am male, and that is why I have a unique perspective on the issue. I experience what it is like to be masculine, but most importantly other men are less careful to hide their prejudice to me.

    Also, I’d just like to point out that I have no idea where you got the idea that women “will not ever be content until they dominate everything and then can have as much blood on their hands as men have”. No one said anything about dominating anyone, besides you.

    …”the majority of males have the arm pit of experience” bahahahaha. Also, the “hazardous grudgery” of male experience… because being a women is never dangerous nor soul-crushingly depressing! No sir!

    Wow what world do you live in, really?

  • Trelawney on 02.07.2009 at 9:04 pm

    Great job, BU

    Fascinated by the negative responses to this article. It just goes to prove that sexism is alive and well, and manifesting itself in ever more subtle and insidious ways. My advice to women: don’t bother trying to engage the harshly negative comments; there’s no point. Concentrate on talking to people who are at least moderately in support of equality and the empowerment of women in society. There are a lot of happy, secure, relaxed men out there who are thrilled to promote feminism in a healthy and supportive way. I’m sure they’d be the guys who would enjoy hanging out at the women’s center, too! I hope this center helps women feel empowered and helps further the cause of gender equality.

  • Anonymous on 02.24.2009 at 5:04 pm

    Attack the arguement, not the person

    If you believe the arguments is wrong, don’t just say it is negative and sexist. Explain why is it wrong. Break down their reasons and make a rebuttal. Doesn’t making a women’s center creates separation? Why do women need to feel protected and safe by such a institution? If you wish complete egalitarian equality, doesn’t the existence of a center to provide shelter goes against the equality or do men need it too? Since men a welcomed, why does have to target women?

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