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May 10, 2010 | by  | in Opinion | [ssba]

Guest President’s column: Caitlin Dunham—Women’s Rights Officer

“People call me a feminist whenever I express an opinion which differentiates me from a prostitute or a doormat”—Rebecca West, actress

The position of Women’s Rights Officer on the VUWSA exec has always been a contentious issue. Why do we need one? What do they even do? Why are they all angry, crazy or lesbian? And where the hell is our Men’s Space?

Feminism isn’t about burning bras and hating men. It’s about looking at society and realising that some things aren’t right. It’s not ok that Fisher Paykel has no women on their high level governance boards. It’s not ok that women are still paid less because of a different chromosome. It’s not ok that women are raped because they wore a short skirt.

I have three constitutional goals to adhere to:

Goal 2. Education: University
To ensure the University provides equity and quality in assessment, teaching, conditions and course access supported by sufficient resources.

Goal 3. Education: Equity
To promote equity for disadvantaged members in access to and within the University.

Goal 6. Public Issues
To promote discussion and action as appropriate, on issues concerning students as citizens.

I am also required to liaise with Women’s Groups on campus and in the wider community. Despite women making up 60% of the University population, we are still marginalised. Ever been a woman studying computer science? Engineering? Hell, even in Political Science there are issues surrounding teaching feminism. The Gender and Women’s Studies programme was cut completely this year, despite having a high pass and completion rate. The University council is run by men. The glass ceiling is not a myth.

There was a Men’s Space, once upon a time. It was requested and they got it. Then, after it was never used, it was taken away and used for something deemed more worthwhile. See Craig, your Welfare Officer’s column over the page for more information.

The Women’s Space, despite being surrounded by construction, is still open albeit a little dusty and loud. Feel free to use it to take some time out of your busy day and read some feminist zines or have a nap. The couches really are quite comfy.

I am not an angry, crazy lesbian. Ok, I can get angry, and when I’m sleep deprived I’ve been known to have meltdowns and go crazy, but on a whole I represent you and do quite a good job, if I do say so myself.
When I ran for WRO last year (and this year – I kept the same campaign promises, so what?) I said I’d make Women’s Group more inclusive. And so far, I have. The International Women’s Day picnic saw people of all genders feast. I’m hoping that people aren’t put off attending Women’s Fest because of the title. I want you all to come – it’d be great to have men making cloth sanitary pads. Women’s Group are just a bunch of people who want to do feminist things and talk about feminist issues, all with a little baking and a friendly vibe. Come along, get involved and have fun.

This week is Women’s Fest. Delve further into Salient and you’ll find a timetable for the week’s activities – it’s bound to be a great time! Salient have devoted a whole issue to this week but just because it has a feminist theme doesn’t mean you shouldn’t read it.

Caitlin Dunham
Women’s Rights Officer 2010


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Comments (2)

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  1. Bobby Soxx says:

    That quote you led with seems to make it sound as though;
    a)Doormats and prostitutes are similar, or even synonymous
    b)Feminists and prostitutes are seperate.
    … See More
    It makes me mad that it’s used so often.

  2. SomeGirl says:

    Hmmm… the problem with feminism is that many women involved with it are not very feminine. Some of them seem to hate their own feminity with a passion and men too.

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