Today, feminists walk the sidewalks of NIU – and they’re not afraid who knows it.
To kick-off Women’s History Month, the Women’s Studies Program is sponsoring its seventh annual sticker day. Everyone on campus is welcome to stop by their office in Reavis 103 to pick up a free “This is What a Feminist Looks Like” sticker and assert their feminist pride. Pins can be purchased for one dollar.
Rebekah Kohli, women’s studies program coordinator, said there are many stereotypes about feminists, like they are men-hating women who don’t shave their legs or upper-class and white.
“I consider myself to be pro-female rights, or pro-women’s rights, but I wouldn’t consider myself a feminist,” said Adam Ostergaard, senior pre-physical therapy major. “I view that as a more active and more extreme perspective.”
Kohli said women’s studies started sticker day to educate people and open up the definition of feminism and what it means to be a feminist.
“We want people to understand that there are men who are feminist — there are people of all races, ethnicities and classes that are feminists,” Kohli said. “I have a picture of President Peters wearing a sticker from a few years ago. Our dean wears the sticker, too.”
Ostergaard said if he saw fellow students that don’t fit his idea of a feminist wearing the sticker, it might catch his attention.
“I don’t know if that would change my opinion, but it might make me think about it,” Ostergaard said.
Amanda Naydenoff, women’s studies graduate teaching assistant, said she has participated in sticker day since she found out about it. Naydenoff said professors and departments around campus request stickers ahead of time. The program printed 1,000 stickers but had run out by Tuesday and had to print more, Kohli said.
Naydenoff said the font and color on the 2012 sticker are different than usual.
“This year, we decided we were going to use a font that was designed by a woman,” Kohli said. “I’ve been trying to do that with almost everything that we do here now.”
The theme for this year’s Women’s History Month is “Women, Wealth & Economic Justice.” Kholi said NIU has many events planned – some congruent with the theme and some annual. For example, Kohli said NIU’s Women’s Rights Alliance is sponsoring two “Vagina Seminars” again. She said students do research on various topics for presentations during these seminars.
“In the past they’ve done talks on sex toys, shopping for them and using them safely,” Kohli said. “They’ve done presentations on the anatomy of women, just helping women and men – men attend this as well – to understand the female body better.”
Naydenoff said Women’s History Month is important to her because she notices main history classes tend to leave out the voices and stories of women, cultural minorities, people of different races, sexualities and lower-classes. It’s important to focus on the history of everyone, Naydenoff said.
“As a future historian, I’m way more interested in studying women’s history, the history of sexuality and things like that because there’s still a lot of work and research that needs to be done,” Naydenoff said. “So I think Women’s History Month is a good way of sort of bringing that to everyone’s attention and talking about it as a whole university.”