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Women and Gender book club gives feminists social outlet

By Angel Baird
On April 8, 2012

 

In 2010, two years after the election of the United States' first African-American president,
it was clear that our system was undergoing big changes in the field of equality. The same
year, Hilary Clinton became only the 12th woman to run for president in 56 presidential
elections, and arguably the most largely supported.
 
In the midst of all these changes, in the spring semester of 2010, Jennifer Hunt, a social
psychologist and coordinator of the Women's Studies Interdisciplinary Unit at Buffalo
State, began what is now known as the Women and Gender Book Club with the help of
Lisa Forrest, and soon after, the assistance of Staci Newmahr, a professor in the sociology
department.
 
Forrest, a co-facilitator of the club and reference librarian on campus, said the club was
introduced as an addition to the Women and Gender Studies Interdisciplinary Unit, which
is a field that "examines the experiences of women, as well as the many ways that gender,
sex, and sexuality impact people's lives."
 
The book selection process for the club is based on the interest of members and decided
from a list created by club facilitators. Some of the reading topics have been gender
messages in pop culture, along with gender and its role in the arts.
 
The fall 2010 semester run of the book club was to be based around Marisa Meltzer's book
Girl Power: The Nineties Revolution in Music, chosen by the 19 members of the club.
"The focus was listening to clips of the music by musicians named in the book. We also
attended an Ani DiFranco concert in Buffalo," Forrest said.
 
This spring semester, the novel Dude, You're a Fag: Masculinity and Sexuality in High
School by C.J. Pascoe was the chosen reading. Pascoe was hosted as a guest speaker here
at Buffalo State by the Women and Gender Studies program, and stood as a symbol on the
campus for Buffalo's city-wide celebration of Women's History Month.
 
Moira Madden, a student member of the club for four semesters with a minor in Women
and Gender Studies, said, "I didn't know a lot about the guest speakers beforehand, but I
learned a lot from them. It was a great experience for all of us."
 
In addition to reading the work of other writers interested in gender studies, the members
and facilitators produce their own zine called the Riot Grrrl Zine as a tribute to the Riot
Grrrl feminist punk rock movement which stands as a general form of activism.
 
The zine includes essays, poems, raps and other writings that students contribute. Two
editions have been released by the club so far.
 
When asked why she took an interest in the club, Madden said, "I enjoy the club because I
learn a lot while having fun, gaining feminist values, and interacting with others that have
similar interests. It's a good way to bond with people, and to read free books."
 
The club's next meetings will be held on April 6 and April 20 at 2:30 p.m. in Classroom
Building A400. Those interested may contact Hunt or Newmahr with further questions.
 
Angel Baird can be reached by email at baird.record@live.com.

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