Women gather to discuss race and feminism

What few people understand about feminism is that most feminist critiques and theories center around opening opportunities for white women almost exclusively. Pacific Lutheran University’s Women’s Center aimed to change this phenomenon March 11 with the “Colors of Feminism” conversation.

Giovanna Urdangarain, assistant professor of Hispanic studies, led the event. She described feminist theories and read poems written by a feminist of color and then asked the attending students what they thought of each piece.

One idea discussed was the role beauty plays within feminism and whether being what society classifies as beautiful allows a woman to be a feminist.
“Feminists are more than white lesbians wearing Birkenstocks,” senior Princess Reese said. “Any woman can be a feminist, regardless of outer beauty.”

Another idea was questioning why there were alternatives to the word ‘feminist,’ such as ‘womanist’ or ‘Latina feminist.’

The group of students discussed the idea, saying that feminism only approaches white feminist problems. This is because women of color are underrepresented within mainstream society.

Furthermore, when women of color are affected by these alternative approaches to feminism, it is only women of color within the United States.

Urdangarain also had the group listen to abolitionist Sojourner Truth’s “Ain’t I a Woman?” speech.
The group of students then discussed why black women rejected feminism, especially in relation to Truth’s speech, and the significant political difference between white and black women.

Horizontal oppression was also mentioned during this discussion, and how women oppress other women based on race and sexual orientation.

The event concluded with a video of a French fashion show where almost all of the models were women of color. The models were not thin but came in all sizes, and instead of strutting down the catwalk, they engaged in step dancing.

The group discussed how this fashion show empowered the women to express who they were, rather than abide to mainstream standards of thin bodies and uniformed styles.

To learn more about events happening in the Women’s Center, visit http://www.plu.edu/womenscenter/. 🅼

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