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August 3, 2014 | by  | in Opinion VUWSA |
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VUWSA Exec Column

Madeleine Ashton-Martyn | Equity Officer

Women’s Week is an incredibly important time for Victoria, VUWSA, and me personally. I’m very proud of the work the VUWSA Women’s Group has been doing in preparation for this week and hope that you take this opportunity to learn, to reflect, to recognize, and to celebrate.

Issues of inequity are extremely pervasive throughout New Zealand and these translate to Victoria in a way that has immense weight. Women’s Week is an opportunity to learn about these and particularly the ways in which they influence women’s experiences on and off campus. It’s a week in which listening to the stories of those around you, what feminism means to them or the areas in which it fails to address their issues and concerns from various intersectional perspectives is so important. I encourage you to seek out these stories through whatever mediums are available to you be it authors, artists, filmmakers or the people around you who identify as women.

It’s a time of reflection as well. Reflecting on your own place within the power structures inherent in patriarchy and the ways in which they influence your identity and your life is so important for people of all genders. I have so much to thank feminism for, to thank the women who have come before me in the fight to reach gender equality for. I’m at university, I can vote in the upcoming general election, I can take on an elected leadership position within VUWSA, and I can address the ways in which I am marginalized each day from a feminist perspective.  Understanding the history of each of these things, the point in history we’re at in terms of inequities that remain, as well as the future paths that must be taken in order to achieve true gender equality is a very heavy task. It’s reflecting on my own identity and what that means in the setting of gender construction that each one of us has a place in.

This week is about recognition. It’s recognizing the struggle that women go through each day and that this fight started long before our time. It’s essential that this is focus is intersectional, recognizing the hardship that trans women, queer women, women of colour, and women with disabilities go through that for so long have been inadequately addressed. What’s truly important about this is not derailing the dialogue of marginalization. This week is about women, all women, and diverting this discourse into the supposed ‘sexism against men’ or emphasizing the experiences of men who don’t buy into misogyny takes the space and recognition away from women. Learn from, listen to, and recognize those around you.

To me one of the coolest parts of this week is the opportunity it gives for celebration. I think this element can be really easy to forget when campaigning for feminist goals. In my role as Equity Officer, throughout the Let Me Go Home campaign and advocating for women’s rights I regularly fall into the trap of getting super bleaked out due to the sheer prominence of women’s issues and women’s marginalization. This week I am looking to celebrate this identity movement, all the incredible women around me, and my own relationship with what it means to me to be a woman.  To start this I want to give a shout out to all the radical matriarchs in my family and particularly my mum for teaching me about issues of gender and encouraging me to look further, teaching me to celebrate myself as a woman.

Take this week to learn, reflect, recognize, and celebrate. I highly recommend checking out all the cool events coming up this week as a starting point, get on the internet to find the details or come and see me in the VUWSA office if you’d like to get more involved!


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