A Report from the Fireside Chat

February 10, 2010 at 6:10 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

by Donna Bickford
Director, Carolina Women’s Center
cross-posted from the CWC Blog

As part of Women’s Week 2010 and its theme of “Take Back the F-word,” the Carolina Women’s Center hosted a Fireside Chat with Chancellor Holden Thorp on Tuesday, February 9.  This event was designed very intentionally to allow the campus an opportunity to hear from Chancellor Thorp on issues related to feminism and gender equity, and to facilitate a dialogue about ways to build a more inclusive Carolina campus climate.

The participation of the Chancellor in this event signals what I believe is a very tangible commitment on the part of his administration to address gender equity issues on campus, and the Chancellor’s initial comments reinforced his personal commitment.  He noted that we have not made enough progress in seeing historically underrepresented groups fully represented in our faculty, administration and student populations.  This is certainly an issue of equity and justice, but is also important since having multiple viewpoints and perspectives helps us build a stronger, more vibrant institution.

Several issues were discussed during this dialogue with our Chancellor, ably facilitated by CWC Associate Director, Dr. Ashley Fogle.  They included the recruitment and retention of men and women of color and white women in our faculty; the status of the gender-neutral language policy, the over-representation of male-identified students in Student Congress, and the intent to include child care facilities at Carolina North.

A large portion of the discussion focused on the recent New York Times article which alleged that the gender ratio among students on campus (roughly 60% women and 40% men) created a situation where women felt compelled to engage in activities and tolerate behaviors they found undesirable and men felt entitled to act in whatever ways they chose with no negative consequences to their social lives.  The vast majority of those in attendance at the Chancellor’s talk — and others — were outraged by the distorted inaccuracy of this article.  As Steve Farmer noted in his blog, the experiences and comments portrayed in the article do not match the experiences of those of us who work with students.

In addition to misrepresenting the concerns and interests of the majority of our students, there was no recognition that not all of our students are heterosexual, not all of them are white, and not all of them are engaged in a drinking culture.  Having these partial and erroneous representations of Carolina and our students disseminated on a national level does us all a disservice.

Chancellor Thorp shared that one of the most persistent issues he deals with in his work on campus and around the state is a pervasive misunderstanding about the impact of the 60/40 split.  He has encountered situations where a citizen will express concern about a perceived problem on campus, which that person will then blame on the gender ratio.  The Chancellor indicated that, as with many institutions of higher learning, women undergraduates have exceeded male undergraduates on campus since the late 70s.  This is, in large part, the result of Title IX which finally barred institutions from discriminating against women, and made illegal the limitations on female enrollment being practiced at the time by a majority of colleges and universities.  Our admissions decisions are made based on a holistic reading of an applicant’s record.  As Steve Farmer noted in earlier news coverage about gender representation in higher education, gender does not factor into admisisons decisions here at Carolina.

More women are attending Carolina, and other colleges and universities, because they are more competitive applicants.  Multiple explanations for this reality have been put forth over the last decade or so.  Perhaps some men are less interested in college since they are more likely to be able to make a living without a college degree than women are (note the long-standing and currently widening gendered wage gap).  Maybe women are more qualified applicants because they know they need to work harder to get ahead.  Maybe we need to revisit educational policy, methods and curriculum at the K-12 level.  Maybe it is a combination of these factors or others that have not yet been identified.

Women may be in the majority as Carolina undergraduates but, as Chancellor Thorp acknowledged, they are disproportionately under-represented in administrative and faculty positions (and, I would add, in just about every other societal arena that represents power).  We were honored to create an environment where the campus could hear the thoughts of Chancellor Thorp and others on these issues.  The Carolina Women’s Center looks forward to contributing to initiatives to build a truly representative and inclusive campus climate.

Day 2 in Photos: Fireside Chat & Take Back the Night

February 10, 2010 at 4:00 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Chancellor Thorp listens as Tom Hamilton speaks about men's experiences at UNC

Student Body President Jasmin Jones weighs in

Participants included faculty, staff and students

Professor Susan Bickford shares her thoughts

Chancellor Thorp, guest of honor

CWC Director Donna Bickford thanks the Chancellor for his participation

Take Back the Night: Signing the SpeakOut pledge

Clothesline Project t-shirts from the rally

Bob Pleasants addresses the crowd at the rally

Take Back the Night participants gathered in the Cabaret

Project Dinah organizer Caroline Fish

Take Back the Night: Preparing for the march

SpeakOut begins

Day 1 in Photos: Performing Feminisms

February 9, 2010 at 7:04 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

At the Union Cabaret

Joy Messinger opens with "Fluency"

Joy Messinger opens with "Fluency"

Rhonda Reese memorializes Sakia Gunn

Sam Peterson's video, "44 Questions"

EROT's Celenia Lonsinger

EROT's Jamila Reddy

EROT ensemble

Artist Q&A

Take Back the F-word Day 1: University Awards for the Advancement of Women

February 9, 2010 at 5:22 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Interim Provost Bruce Carney with Parastoo Hashemi and Melinda Manning. Not pictured: Laurie McNeil

By Ashley Fogle

Our week kicked off yesterday with a reception honoring the 2010 winners of the University Awards for the Advancement of Women.

Three winners—one faculty, one staff member, and one postdoctoral scholar—were recognized by the offices of the Chancellor and Provost for their work mentoring or supporting women on campus, elevating the status of women or improving campus policies for them, promoting women’s recruitment and retention, or promoting professional development for women.

This year’s honorees included Parastoo Hashemi, a postdoctoral research associate in chemistry; Melinda Manning, assistant dean of students; and Laurie McNeil, professor in the physics and astronomy department.

Hashemi was honored for her work seeking out talented young women to full undergraduate and graduate positions in her lab in chemistry and serving as their mentor. She is currently establishing a foundation that supports mentors in recruiting and training young women in scientific research.

Manning is an advisor to Project Dinah, a founder and facilitator of the HAVEN program, and a key support person in the Dean of Students Office for student survivors of sexual assault and relationship violence.

McNeil joined the physics department in 1984 and as chair helped to double the number of female faculty in her department. She helped form the Working on Women in Science program, which is designed to foster the careers of women in the sciences and has chaired the American Physical Society Committee on the Status of Women.

It’s always wonderful to see deserving faculty, staff and students publicly recognized for the important advocacy work they do on campus. Thanks to all of you!

On a very personal note, it was especially gratifying to see Melinda Manning, a colleague, Women’s Week committee member, and dear friend, receive the accolades she so clearly deserves. I know firsthand how tirelessly she works as an advocate for survivors. Women on this campus are fortunate to have her in the Dean of Students Office, and I am honored to call her a friend.

Congratulations, Melinda!

Stop the Violence: Take Back the Night

February 4, 2010 at 8:43 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

by Caroline Fish
Project Dinah

I want to ask you what “violence” means. Is it simply wars and gangs or could it also be the movies we watch, the language we use, the little aggressions? Violence surrounds us. We swallow it; we breathe it. Our friends, our families, our lives are touched by it.

1 in 4 women and 1 in 33 men survive a sexual assault in their lifetime; 1 in 5 college-aged women experience relationship violence; every two minutes someone in the United States is sexually assaulted. Violence.

Our Take Back The Night event says, “STOP,” says, “NO.” We want it to end; we want everyone to stop accepting the violence as fact. Start protesting, start intervening.

At the Rally, Dr. Dorothy Edwards from the University of Kentucky will be telling us how to end violence. She reveals the power you have to serve as an active part of its prevention. You can stand up; you can speak up. She motivates and encourages each and every person to take an active stance.

Then, at SpeakOut! following the Rally and March, your friends and peers will speak and say how assault and interpersonal violence has touched their lives. You might see tears, you might see anger. You will definitely see strength; you will hear powerful voices. These stories break the silence and beg for you to care. Not only that, you will have the chance to share your reactions and your feelings, to say, “I’ve been touched by this too.”

Every year, we advertise Take Back The Night and SpeakOut! with promises of free food and coffee, with performances by a capella groups and campus entertainers… but I want to advertise the courage, the inspiration, the passion of the survivors and the activists. I want you to see what they work for and why they work for it. Please join us as we raise our voices against aggression and assault, as we raise our voices for hope. Help us take back the night.

For a full schedule of events and location, visit <projectdinah.webs.com/getinvolved.htm>.

Performing Feminisms

February 4, 2010 at 8:35 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

*Spoken Word* Short Films* Performance Art*

Attending to intersectionality along all aspects of identity! Join us in this exploration & celebration of the diversity, within, amongst, and around us.


Filmmaker, Daniele D.
Screening of Short Film, F-Club

Ebony Readers/Onyx Theatre
Featuring members from EROT, who as always, feature poets that burn down the stage with Spoken word poetry and drama on stage.
See info about their upcoming Valentine’s show:

EROT performing at Women's Week 2009

Joy Messinger
Spoken word piece by local activist and performer on identity; being an Asian woman and the intersectionality of identity.

Miss Mary Wanna
Burlesque/Performance Art!
Just call her Little Miss Mary Wanna, though there’s nothing little about much of this girl. Perfecting her craft in Carrboro, North Carolina, via the Gulf Coast of Florida, Miss Mary Wanna oozes southern charm and uncompromised sexuality on stage. With influences all over the map, she infuses traditional burlesque with her love for disco, hip hop, glam rock and more to create a style all her own. Leave your pre-concieved notions of what’s “hot” at the door, because Miss Mary Wanna is going to blow your mind and get you high. Become a fan: http://www.facebook.com/home.php?#/pages/miss-mary-wanna/285816722078

Miss Mary Wanna

Rhonda Reece
Listen to the powerful, honest, and engaging words from Rhonda Reece as she compels us to examine the intersections.

Sam Peterson, a.k.a. thaManSam.blogspot.com
Former female Sam Peterson describes his forays into a brave new world of masculinity via therapy and testosterone: one that involves “manfirmations,” sublime hilarity at the expense of self, and just general all’round trananigans. Debut screening of his short movie, “44 Questions, or You Might Be Trans If…” and a reading about 4th Wave Feminism.

The Man Sam

And more!
Join us to see this cabaret style talent!

By providing a venue for the expression of different understandings and iterations of feminism, we hope to promote Women’s Week’s mission. “Performing Feminisms” will incorporate both live performances and those created within the film medium for our exploration of feminism’s possibilities. Members of the Carolina community are invited to develop a wide range of performative expressions to define, articulate, and enact their understandings of feminism.

Sponsored by the Carolina Women’s Center, and the Take Back the F-word Committee.

Event Details: Monday, February 8 at 8:00 pm in the Cabaret, Carolina Union

The Feminist Body

February 4, 2010 at 4:04 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

For the third year in a row, we’ve teamed up with CUAB to host a feminist art show in the Union. Our Art Show highlights the creative potential of feminism for positive social change by allowing members of the Carolina community to explore and share their own meanings and relationships to feminism, however they define it. This show is not meant to define one particular feminism; rather it is intended to celebrate diverse and expressive approaches to defining and enacting feminism.

Mark McLawhorn, St. Chalkhydri; Victory

As you gaze at the pieces in our show, you’ll notice a visual preoccupation with female bodies. That these individual submissions all happen to share this thread speaks to the place the body occupies in feminist discourses. From those who seek to gain control over their bodies, to protests against beauty standards and violence against women, to celebrations of female strength, the body could be considered central to many feminist projects. These pieces help underscore the tension between the constructed, performative nature of gender and the biological happenstances of sex. Sex and gender, in many bodies, are often at odds. The works in this show emphasize such individual conflicts — conflicts between appearance, socially-expected behavior, and inner desires.

Rebecca Smith, Magazines

The exhibit is on display in the main Gallery (2nd floor) of the Union through February 12. Check it out, and let us know how the F-word speaks to you! (pl)

Rakhee Devasthali, Untitled

Speak Up/Speak Out: Making Carolina A More Inclusive Community

January 21, 2010 at 6:32 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Take Back the F-Word is all about exploring the possibilities feminism – in all of its iterations and individual expressions – can offer in creating a more just world for everyone.  In the spirit of acting locally, we’ll be thinking about what can be done right here at Carolina.  First and foremost, on Tuesday, February 9 at 3pm we’ll be hosting a campus-wide dialogue, or “Fireside Chat,” to envision a more inclusive Carolina.

We’re very honored that Chancellor Holden Thorp will lead the campus in this conversation about gender equity at UNC. His participation signals a very tangible commitment on the part of our administration to addressing gender issues on campus.  This Fireside Chat with the Chancellor is intended as an open dialogue about what feminism means and how it can be used to make real positive change at UNC.

What issues are you interested in raising with your colleagues and with the Chancellor? Where do you see gaps and room for improvement? What ideas can you bring to the table to make Carolina a more inclusive place to live, work, and learn? We want to hear from you — right here, right now!

Of course, we hope that you’ll also be able to join us on February 9 —  prepared to speak up and speak out.  This is your chance to be heard and make a difference!                        (pl)

Event Details:

Fireside Chat with Chancellor Thorp

Tuesday, February 9

3:00 pm – 4:30 pm

Faculty Commons Room, Campus Y

Welcome to our ongoing dialogue…

December 29, 2009 at 3:06 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Greetings! You’re probably here because you’ve heard about “Take Back the F-word,” the theme for Women’s Week 2010, the weeklong celebration of gender equity sponsored by the Carolina Women’s Center. On behalf of the planning committee, I wanted to say a bit about this year’s theme and our plans to kick things off.

You’ll notice a couple of things off the bat: First, we’ve moved this year’s celebration, which has traditionally been held in March to coincide with Women’s History Month, to February 8-12. We hope this new timeframe will be more convenient for the campus community. (And we’ll still be planning programs for Women’s History Month. Be sure to check the calendar at womenscenter.unc.edu for details about our March events!)

Second, you may have noticed that this year’s theme is a direct extension of last year’s. That was intentional, and we encourage folks to go back and revisit last year’s blog to see what we were up to and why we’re so excited about continuing the conversation.

Last year we focused on why feminism had become a “dirty word” in our culture and what relevance it had for the current generation of young women and men. This year we’re focusing on reclaiming the “f-word,” a goal that is reflected in our 2010 mission statement:

Imagine a world where no one is confined by rigid gender expectations, where everyone is accepted and valued equally. Imagine a world built on ideals of inclusivity and social justice. No matter what you imagine—there’s a feminism for that! Come explore your own personal relationship to “the f- word” in our week-long conversation about the possibilities feminism offers each of us.

In short, this year we’re talking about taking the f-word personally: On an individual level, as in thinking about what the word, the label, and the possibilities of a truly inclusive movement for social justice can mean for each of us in our own lives.

But we’d also like to “imagine a world” right here at UNC and encourage members of the Carolina community to think about how we can make equality and inclusivity a reality right here, right now. What would that entail? How do we start?

And what would it mean—on a personal or a community level—to live in a world free of the constraints of rigidly-defined gender expectations?

Imagining those possibilities is one of the broad (and admittedly—but intentionally) ambitious goals for the week.

Check out our constantly-evolving online calendar of events to see what we have planned for the week. And check this space regularly for more discussion about feminism, our goals and objectives, our personal stories, and the exciting lineup of events that are in store!

Take back the F-word!

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