Student Organization Spotlight: Gender Equality Now

Photo+Courtesy+Gender+Equality+Now

Photo Courtesy Gender Equality Now

In a world and on a campus where gender stereotypes and inequalities abound, students can often feel voiceless. Gender Equality Now (GEN), Calvin’s only feminist student organization, fosters an environment where students can share their stories and discuss other gender-related issues.

Club co-leader Sarah Bass first learned about GEN through its table at Cokes and Clubs last fall and immediately resonated with its cause.

“When I went to the first meeting I found a place where I felt like I belonged. I felt welcome, encouraged and challenged,” she said.

But Gender Equality Now is not just for women: GEN, on the college website, emphasizes that it “creates a safe space for men and women of Calvin to join together in order to take action and pursue gender justice and equality by addressing and combating injustices women face at Calvin, in the United States and abroad.”

Due to the widespread nature of inequality, GEN, through the interactions between feminism and other issues, from race to disability to LGBTQ+,  challenges students on these topics. Feminism can even intersect with gaming culture: last year, GEN and Calvin Arcade partnered to host Jamin Warren, who spoke on Gamergate and sexism in video games.

Other events have included documentary showings, such as last year’s presentation of “The Mask You Live In,” a documentary about masculinity in the United States. They have also hosted story-sharing activities, such as the recent Clothesline Campaign, where students were invited to write their experiences with sexism onto a T-shirt and hang it outside North Hall. Sophomore Alex Blanchard appreciated this opportunity to anonymously hear and share experiences.

“A lot of things happen here on campus that you don’t even realize,” she commented, telling the story of a female engineering student who was criticized for her choice of major. Blanchard was also able to express her own experience: “After writing on a T-shirt, I felt more relief,” she said. Today, the shirt hangs in her room, serving as a conversation-starter with floormates and friends.

According to Bass, “Feminism is not a bad word. It’s a good thing! We just want equality.” Through Gender Equality Now, students have the opportunity to listen to the feminist perspective and learn the many forms of sexism in our culture.

While the organization is still planning its programming for the spring, interested students can find Gender Equality Now on Facebook or contact Sierra Savela at [email protected] Meetings occur every other Thursday during the semester.