Marywood and Lackawanna College hold joint feminism panel


Photo credit/ Kyle Clouse

Rachel Looker, Asst. News Editor

A panel and open discussion were held in Nazareth Student Center about feminism and feminist topics. This was a joint event of Marywood’s Women’s Studies and Lackawanna College’s Women’s Literature class.

The panel consisted of members from both the Marywood and Lackawanna College communities.

Marywood representatives included Samantha Christiansen, Ph.D., director of women’s studies, Fran Zauhar, Ph.D., dean of the Munley College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, Philip Jenkins, Ph. D., associate professor of philosophy, Linda Partridge, associate professor of art history, Jennifer Mudge, African Sisters Education Collaborative (ASEC) program evaluator, and Poshya Kakil Ahmed, second year graduate student and interior architecture major.

Members of the panel from Lackawanna College included Brian Fanelli, M.F.A., professor of writing and literature at Lackawanna College, and Kim Graham, a junior international affairs major.

Following the panel, attendees were welcomed to view the film “Bread and Roses,” which is part of the Social Sciences Labor film series and discusses women and organizing.

“I wanted to do this panel to open the beginning dialogue items of what is this word, how can we use it in a positive way, how can we clarify some of the misconceptions about this term and how can we bring it back,” said Christiansen.

According to Christiansen, many students feel the word “feminist” has a negative connotation and attach inaccurate or confusing definitions to the term.

“I think it’s really interesting that the term feminism has become so controversial because I was sort of born and bred on feminism as basically just meaning that you respect women equally as men and that gender isn’t something that stands in your way,” said Christiansen.

According to Fanelli, there are still many gender equality issues taking place at the local, state, and national levels.

“Preconceived gender roles are as hard for men as they are for women,” said Fanelli during the panel.

Marywood University is a feminist institution at its core, according to Christiansen.

“To found an institution for women to give women education 100 years ago was a feminist act,” said Christiansen. “I feel an obligation to sort of continue the conversation and that’s what the panel was for.”

Christiansen said the topic of feminism is not as openly discussed as it previously has been in the past.

“We stopped talking about gender issues and we stopped having things like as many women’s studies course offerings,” said Christiansen.

During the panel, Christiansen said students use words such as “nice” to describe female professors instead of “knowledgeable,” which is a word more likely used when describing male professors.

Christiansen said during the panel that the term “feminist” can have many different meanings.

Topics such as where transgender students live on campus or whether campuses should have gender-neutral bathrooms are all considered feminist issues, according to Christiansen.

Marywood students participated in the open discussion about feminism.

Shelby Smith, senior psychology major, stated that these feminism panels should be held more often and said she would be interested in attending more discussions.

“It’s good to have on campus,” said Smith. “It’s not something we have as available as we should.”

Fanelli hopes to continue these panels with Marywood each year.

“I think that it was wonderful and I would like to do this every fall when the women’s lit class runs and continue teaming up with Marywood to do this,” said Fanelli.

Connor Moffitt contributed to this article.

Contact the writer: [email protected]