Women’s Center 25 Then vs. Now: Take Back the Night Flyers

WC 25 Logo - PurpleThe Women’s Center at UMBC turns 25 this year! We’re excited to share our important milestone with UMBC’s 50th Anniversary and will be celebrating throughout the year with the rest of campus! We were inspired by Special Collections archival project Archives Gold: 50 Objects for UMBC’s 50th and decided to do our own digging into the Women’s Center archives. Over the course of the year, we’ll be sharing 25 “Then vs Now” archives to celebrate the origin and evolution of the Women’s Center at UMBC.

This week we’re featuring event flyers from of our Take Back the Night. 

Since Take Back the Night 2017 just happened a few weeks ago, the experience may be fresh in many of our minds. As social media and technology has enhanced over the past several years, it’s always interesting looking back at old event flyers and Take Back the Night is no different! As we’ve been diving over the archives this past year, it’s neat to see the ways in which promoting Take Back the Night has evolved. From basic event flyers to hashtags and geofilters, the importance of getting students to this critical event remains constant.

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One of our first TBTN flyers from 1991. 

 

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Take Back the Night 2003

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A last minute advertisement located in The Retriever Weekly in 2003

 

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One of the newer TBTN flyers from 2016. 

 

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This year Kayla Smith shows off our newest flyer and logo! Kayla-ception via SnapChat!!

You can learn more about the history of Take Back the Night at UMBC by checking out our recent blog post on just that!

What are the memories you have of the Women’s Center over the years that are meaningful to you? What does the Women’s Center mean to you today? Share your memories and pictures with us in the comment section below!

Stay up-to-date with our 25th anniversary on social media using #UMBCWC25. Share your Women’s Center experiences and memories with the UMBC community using #UMBCWC25 AND #UMBC50!

Women’s Center 25 Then vs. Now: Tabling & Outreach Events

WC 25 Logo - PurpleThe Women’s Center at UMBC turns 25 this year! We’re excited to share our important milestone with UMBC’s 50th Anniversary and will be celebrating throughout the year with the rest of campus! We were inspired by Special Collections archival project Archives Gold: 50 Objects for UMBC’s 50th and decided to do our own digging into the Women’s Center archives. Over the course of the year, we’ll be sharing 25 “Then vs Now” archives to celebrate the origin and evolution of the Women’s Center at UMBC.

This week we’re featuring the history of the Women’s Center event and programming tabling and outreach!

An important part of the Women’s Center vision has been education and outreach. Since our opening in 1991, the Women’s center has continually been dedicated to campus and community outreach and providing resources related to women’s issues, social justice, and feminism to the UMBC community.

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One of the earliest Clothesline Project displays in 1998 at the UC Plaza

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Women’s Center community members tabling at the 1998 Clothesline Project display

Today, the Women’s Center tables at numerous events throughout the academic year. Both student and professional staff take time out of their day to help inform UMBC community members about campus, the Women’s Center and community resources. We also table for special days like National Coming Out Day and critical initiatives such as the Telling Our Stories Project. Next time you see us tabling, be sure to stop by, say hi and check out our resources!!

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Women’s Center community member Jahia tabling at the 2016 Telling Our Stories Showcase

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Former Women’s Center Director Dr. Mollie Monahan-Kreishman, Administrative Assistant, Eryl Pettit and Student Staff Mahnoor Siddiqui tabling on Mainstreet back in 2010!

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Celebrating National Coming Out Day at our 2015 NCOD tabling event with Women’s Center Staff member, Kayla Smith!

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Student Staff, Michael, and WC community member, Deja, at the 2017 Lovapalooza

What are the memories you have of the Women’s Center over the years that are meaningful to you? What does the Women’s Center mean to you today? Share your memories and pictures with us in the comment section below!

Stay up-to-date with our 25th anniversary on social media using #UMBCWC25. Share your Women’s Center experiences and memories with the UMBC community using #UMBCWC25 AND #UMBC50!

Women’s Center 25 Then vs. Now: Our Anniversary Celebrations!

WC 25 Logo - PurpleThe Women’s Center at UMBC turns 25 this year! We’re excited to share our important milestone with UMBC’s 50th Anniversary and will be celebrating throughout the year with the rest of campus! We were inspired by Special Collections archival project Archives Gold: 50 Objects for UMBC’s 50th and decided to do our own digging into the Women’s Center archives. Over the course of the year, we’ll be sharing 25 “Then vs Now” archives to celebrate the origin and evolution of the Women’s Center at UMBC.

 

This week we’re featuring the history of Women’s Center anniversary celebrations! 

Student Staff at The Women’s Center’s 25th anniversary photo booth

The Women’s Center has always had something to celebrate. We often talk about how women-centered spaces and activists spaces by their very nature are radical and bold and well, we find that worth celebrating. As you already know, this year the Women’s Center is celebrating our 25th anniversary. We kicked off the year with a birthday party where some of our founding members and critical people in our history spoke about the importance of Women’s Centers and the way they had seen the Women’s Center grow over the years. We had cupcakes, enjoyed a feminist- inspired photo- booth, and had a wonderful time. Throughout the year, we continued to document and celebrate our history at events such as Critical Social Justice and welcoming Provost Rous to the Women’s Center to meet with current students, staff, and faculty. We also reached out to alum and former staff members over the year and created a 25 Friends of the Women’s Center to honor those who have given of their time and resources to support our work.

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Simmona Simmons, a founder of The Women’s Center, speaks for the 25th anniversary celebration

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But how have we celebrated past anniversaries?

During our 10th year of operation, the Women’s Center hosted a chair making event in which student organizations and departments connected to the Center, decorated a chair to represent themselves in the space. For many years, these chairs lined the walls of the Women’s Center as both decoration and useful places to sit. While the chairs are not out in our space on a daily basis anymore, you’ll see them make an appearance during roundtable events or other gatherings that require additional seating.


For our 20th anniversary, the Women’s Center Advisory Board and professional staff were committed to hosting large anniversary celebrations over the course of the year. Key events included our opening and closing picnic, a collection of women photographers featured in the Library gallery, and a service project at a local women’s shelter. UMBC student, Stefanie Mavronis, ’12 , interviewed many UMBC students, staff, and faculty for a digital story telling project to capture the theme of the anniversary: 100,000 Stories – Which One is Yours.  In the spirit of the chair decorating that happened in our 10th year, we created a quilt featuring student organizations and departments that continue to be important to who we are as a Center.

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Unveiling the 20th anniversary quilt lovingly crafted by student staff member, Lizzy Wunsch, Class of 2015. 

What are the memories you have of the Women’s Center over the years that are meaningful to you? What does the Women’s Center mean to you today? Share your memories and pictures with us in the comment section below!

Stay up-to-date with our 25th anniversary on social media using #UMBCWC25. Share your Women’s Center experiences and memories with the UMBC community using #UMBCWC25 AND #UMBC50!

Co-Opting the Message: How Companies Are Not Our Friends

shira-spring-headshotA reflection by student staff member Shira Devorah 

 

By now, many of us have heard of that Pepsi ad with Kendall Jenner appropriating the Black Lives Matter movement.

Immediately after the ad debuted, the internet blew up in opposition to it. Activists were not complacent with the whitewashed, safe, and commercialized rip-off of Black Lives Matter. Pepsi eventually issued a half-baked apology to the public (but mostly to Kendall Jenner).

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I’m writing specifically about this advertisement as a sort of jumping-off point. I want to acknowledge, before moving forward into a broader discussion, the racism embedded in this ad. Kendall Jenner, a white woman, used black men (and the movement demanding justice for their lives) as props to support her image as an activist who could quell police brutality with a Pepsi. This is an example of overt racism in advertising.

 

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A real- life example from the Baltimore Uprising in April 2015. 

Racism in advertisements is not new.  Soda companies have had a lot to do with this brand of racism. While this blog post is not entirely about racism, I think it is important to point out its presence before discussing other issues I have with this kind of ad.

What issues, you ask?

Co-existing with the obvious racism we can see in this advertisement,  I want to talk about  a different problem that this ad also brings up. I’m sick of seeing the way companies twist activist and feminist messages to sell products.  

Companies appropriate feminist-ish narratives to make them seem like friendly, trustworthy, and progressive institutions.

Take the example of Dove’s body positivity campaign. Dove, the popular soap company, launched the “Campaign for Real Beauty” in 2004. This campaign has portrayed models for Dove products as more “realistic” depictions of women, as opposed to over- photoshopped, thin white models.

On the surface, this campaign looks pretty awesome. A company that’s not buying into sexist beauty standards? It absolutely sounds like a step in the right direction.

Yet there is a certain cognitive dissonance that accompanies the message Dove is presenting. On one hand, they’re telling me, “I’m beautiful just the way I am.”  

On the other hand, I am being sold a beauty product specifically designed to make my body conform more to the beauty standards.

If Dove tells me I’m beautiful with my stretch marks while simultaneously selling me a skin-firming lotion, what message am I really supposed to be taking away from these advertisements?

Additionally, Dove is a company under the corporation Unilever- the same conglomerate that owns Axe.

Axe is another soap product, but it is marketed in the completely opposite direction. Axe’s body sprays and hair gels are aimed towards teenage boys, and tend to use women as hyper- sexualized props to sell their products.

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Screen capture from a recent Axe marketing campaign. 

How can one company that espouses the empowerment of women be so closely tied to a another that uses sexist tactics to sell their product?

At the end of the day, major corporations like Dove, Axe, and their parent company, Unilever, aren’t people. They aren’t your friend, and they aren’t a magical way to get girls to like you. They are marketing teams targeting your passions and weaknesses in order to get you to buy their products.

At least with (many) small businesses, the stances that they take are likely the real positions that the founders have.

Take, for example, feminist owned bookstores in Baltimore, like Ivy Bookshop on Falls Road and Red Emma’s on North Avenue. These are small, independent businesses that are locally owned and operated. They actively employ Baltimore-based activists and provide space for discussion and performance.

When I go to Red Emma’s, I feel like I can have a legitimate conversation about body positivity with an employee and not be sold an answer. These are actually my fellow community members making a living in a broken system, selling an item with an actual meaning attached. Are they perfect? Absolutely not. But I feel more comfortable buying from them, knowing that they aren’t faking their commitment to a cause I care about.

This, of course, comes with another layer of complication. Buying from businesses who aren’t faking the activist narrative isn’t always possible (we learned that from the recent issues happening over at Thinx). There is a certain privilege that comes along with purchasing power. I wish I had the money to buy all of my books at Red Emma’s or soap from small businesses, but the companies that can afford to make/sell cheaper products are usually the ones I can afford.

So what am I getting at with this?

More than anything, I just want to bring awareness to the ways we are being used as consumers. If we realize how much power we have in our wallets, we can begin to be more aware of how our money is being spent.

Companies will always pander to us, but we can work to change the culture that companies are trying to appropriate. Maybe if we work to build a world that doesn’t rely on racist imagery or women’s bodies to sell products, we’ll be sold to in a way that is more on our terms as consumers. At the very least, being woke to capitalist agendas running our lives may help us maneuver the ways that we are sold to into a more positive light.

Want to learn more?

The Representation Project: Using film and media as catalysts for cultural transformation, The Representation Project inspires individuals and communities to challenge and overcome limiting stereotypes so that everyone – regardless of gender, race, class, age, religion, sexual orientation, ability, or circumstance – can fulfill their human potential.

Check out some documentaries exploring women in the media & advertising. Some recommendations include Miss Representation and Killing Me Softly (both available at the AOK Library!).   

Here is a list of Black-owned businesses in Maryland.

Here’s how you can use SNAP at the Baltimore Farmer’s Market and Bazaar.

Activist/Feminist Inspiration for the Weeks Ahead

IMG_3638 A brief reminder to take care of yourself, find your way to stay motivated, and shine on by student staff member Prachi Kochar. 

As we approach the end of the semester, it can be difficult to stay motivated and take care of ourselves while still prioritizing pursuing what is important to us. It has been a very difficult semester for me on multiple fronts, but reading the writings of feminist activists that I look up to has become something that helps me bolster my motivation and passion, even in hard times. While everyone’s goals, motivations, and needs look different, I hope that the following quotes will serve as inspiration for the dark times or as an extra push forward when it is needed. Feel free to save and share as much as you would like! 

Be sure to check out the following resources related to self-care, and remember, we’re all in this together. You can do it!

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What makes a Feminist Quote? Call for submissions!!!

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A call for submissions by staff member Daniel Willey

 

 

One of my tasks at the Women’s Center is to make a Facebook post every Friday for Feminist Quote Friday. You’d think being surrounded by books written by feminists and activists would make it easy to come up with a quote to use each week, but I keep getting hung up on the question of what makes a feminist quote.

“Activism can be the journey rather than the arrival.” – Grace Lee Boggs, The Next American Revolution: Sustainable Activism for the Twenty-First Century

Is it a quote by a feminist? Is it a statement which follows feminist principles? What if the person who said it isn’t a feminist? Should I be responsible for pulling out the receipts and making sure everyone I quote has never said or done anything problematic first? Does the quote have to be a feminist statement or can it simply be related to feminist issues?

And besides all that, there are SO MANY great feminist words to choose from!

That’s where you come in: I want to hear your favorite feminist quotes. I want to hear what words inspire you, lift you up, make you feel called to action. I want to hear what made you think, made you reevaluate, what steered you in a new direction.

Submit this google form to send me your feminist quote and tell me a little bit about why you chose it! I’ll be using submissions for Feminist Quote Fridays and you can submit anytime!

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Women in Activism: a Roundtable Round-Up

The Women’s Center ended our spring roundtable series on a high note last Thursday with Women in Activism. If you weren’t able to join us for our lively discussion, here’s a short round-up of what you missed!

This semester’s roundtable series focused on the ways that women are made invisible and silenced within certain spaces. For this discussion on activism, we began with a short visual presentation that illustrates how women often go unseen within the very movements they’ve worked to create.

Our three panelists shared their insights on the topic to help launch our discussion: Dr. Beverly Bickel from Language, Literacy and Culture (LLC); Iman Said, a junior Psychology major and Baltimore-based activist; and Jacki Stone, Community Health and Safety Specialist and a graduate student in LLC.

Activism Roundtable Panelists

from left to right: Panelists Jackie Stone, Beverly Bickel, and Iman Said

Important points of discussion are as follows:  Continue reading