Who needs feminism?


U of R students are encouraged to take part in a contest that re-engages student dialogue on feminism and the role it plays in society

Taouba Khelifa
News Editor

Why do you need feminism?

In celebration of the 2013 spring equinox, the University of Regina’s Women’s Centre and the Women and Gender Studies department are inviting students to creatively answer this question and submit their answers into the Why Do You Need Feminism? contest.

“The spring equinox is the springing into new ideas, new thoughts, new ways of being. We really wanted to run with that idea,” explained Darlene Juschka, U of R professor and one of the contest’s organizers. “In terms of different systems of belief and practice, often you will have a spring deity that is female – Flora in Rome, Persephone in Greece. So, you always have this association of spring and blooming with women, female energy, [and] reproductive aspects that women bring to the world.”

It is the first contest of its kind on campus, both undergraduate and graduate students from any field or discipline are encouraged to think about the role that feminism plays in today’s society, and share their ideas through art, written expression, or performance. 

Who Needs Feminism? launched in April of this year when a group of 16 women from Duke University decided to launch an online PR campaign after being “disturbed by what [they] perceived to be an overwhelmingly widespread belief that today’s society no longer needs feminism.”

In an attempt to change this perception and challenge the stereotypes of what it means to be a feminist, Who Needs Feminism? was launched. 

Only a few months into the campaign, and Who Needs Feminism? saw campuses all across North America participating in their online challenge, recreating the dialogue on what it means to be a feminist. Now, U of R students will have the chance to engage in these discussions.

“I think there’s this attitude that ‘do we still need feminism? Women have gained equality,’ ” said Kim Karpa, executive director of the Women’s Centre on campus and contest organizer.  “But when you actually look at issues that women face – violence, [issues] in the labour market, the hyper-sexualization of women – we still clearly need feminism.”

“Feminism is a political position. You do not have to have a uterus to be a feminist. And, furthermore, everyone with a uterus is not necessarily a feminist.” – Darlene Juschka

Juschka and Karpa say that feminism is a misunderstood concept in the media and the society. The two explained that there is no such thing as one type of feminism. Instead, the word is pluralized into “feminisms” to include all the different methods, analyses, thinking patterns, and structures that each feminist brings to the table.

“I teach about feminisms, and I would never say that it is one thing. The overarching idea [is] analysis of gender, sex and ideology,” Juschka clarified. “Equally, [it talks about] issues around injustices, equity issues … race, class, [and] sexuality.”

Karpa agreed, explaining that she is not the same kind of feminist that Juschka is, but they both still fit under the umbrella of feminism.

“Not all feminists will agree on how to address certain issues,” said Karpa. “But this [contest] is supposed to break down the different kinds of feminisms and also that misconception that feminists are these bra-burning, man-hating, women.”

Perhaps even more surprising, the women explained, is the fact that feminism is for both men and women. While the focus is mostly on women’s rights and issues, Karpa explained that feminism “also looks at marginalized men, and how race and class operate within their social bodies as well.”

“Feminism is a political position,” Juschka continued. “You do not have to have a uterus to be a feminist. And, furthermore, everyone with a uterus is not necessarily a feminist.”

Juschka believes she still needs feminism to have a better future for her children, and for herself.

“I have two kids, and I want a world where both of them can move in that world and be free, so that my son has full access to an emotional range, which he doesn’t have now – not if he’s going to be a ‘proper man.’ And that my daughter have full access to a range of futures, and not limited because she is not male.”

Karpa reiterates Juschka’s message, describing the various issues women face and continue face on a every day.

“It continues to be an uphill battle,” she said. “And, until we have no violence in the world and no social injustices, that’s why we need feminism.”

The Why Do You Need Feminism? contest is open until Feb. 1. All submissions will be put on display on March 20 in the 5th Parallel Gallery on campus, and the top three submissions will be awarded cash prizes of $500, $300, and $200 respectively. For more information, visit the University of Regina’s Women’s Centre in room 226 of the Riddell.

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