About 20 men and women wearing “This is what a feminist looks like” T-shirts drew confused glances and inquiries as they walked in slow motion though the busy halls of the EMU on Thursday.
The group, which included members and supporters of the ASUO Women’s Center, was trying to show a strong feminist presence on campus and debunk misconceptions about feminism, organizer Sarah Wells explained.
She said ideas of militaristic lesbians have been wrongly attached to the feminist movement, and that part of their goal in holding the rally was to discredit those myths.
“The dictionary definition of feminism is a belief in social, political and economic equality of the sexes,” Wells said. “You don’t actually have to be a woman to be a feminist, anyone can be a feminist, and most people are if they accept that definition.”
The walk was part of a recent campaign by the Women’s Center to help the public connect with the idea of feminism. A series of six posters meant to show the public the everyday faces of feminists were created with photographs of student group leaders, she said.
Women’s Center Director Lisa Foisy explained to those rallying before the start of the march that the walk would be a combination of art and activism — and they would be the art. By walking in slow motion the marchers would draw attention and arouse curiosities, she said.
“This is a marketing tool for people to stop and look,” she said.
Women’s Center employee Mona Jones said the performing art aspect of the walk was right up her alley because she is a dance major. Jones volunteered to help hand out brochures and explain to the public the reason for the march.
She said they originally wanted to have an open house ceremony for the center, but decided it wouldn’t reach enough of the public. Instead, they decided to hold a walk to garner public attention.
The Women’s Center charged $10 for each shirt and sold a total of 35, Wells said, adding that the profits will all go toward “The Vagina Monologues” production, for which the Women’s Center badly needs funding.
Wells, a junior studying public relations, first hatched the idea for the walk during a bike ride to school.
“I was riding my bicycle to school one day and I thought, ‘Wouldn’t it be cool if everyone wore their feminist T-shirt on the same day?’” she said. “And then I just off-handedly mentioned it at the staff meeting and there was a lot of support.”
Wells said that if the walk is successful in attracting people to the Women’s Center, organizers will plan to do it again next year.
“If we can bring one person into the Women’s Center who’s never been into the Women’s Center, it’ll be a success,” she said.
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