Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Finding Feminists in South Carolina

Today, Tania and I embarked upon our first foray of visits into South Carolina. We hit up a few schools in Spartanburg - Converse College and Wofford College. We had some great meetings with enthusiastic faculty lined up, and we packed our bags with some extra information about our upcoming Women of Color Conference and campus program - just in case.

Part of our job as organizers is to root around and dig up the feminists that we know are out there - the question is, where do we find them? I wish I could tell you tales of glory, filled with triumphant marches across campus followed by masses of "This is what a FEMINIST looks like" tshirt wearers. You know, wherein we sweep into a campus and find those fiery personalities ready to revolutionize the politics of their communities forever...!

Unfortunately, rarely is our job this glorious, or that easy. Most of the time, our organizing involves endless online research, countless phone calls, and ongoing email conversations. Sometimes the most frustrating thing is that we continually put ourselves out there, and we don't always see any result.

But I have to say, being on the ground makes all the difference. Knocking on doors, meeting people, engaging in conversation, and working with the individual vibe of every campus is easily the best part of our job! It makes the piles of prep work, not to mention the getting lost, long days, and hours of driving well worth it.

This was proved for us today. After we finished our scheduled visits at Converse, we decided to poke around and drop in on other friendly departments. Heck, we're trying to get folks out to Atlanta for the conference (hint hint, if you haven't registered yet, brighten our day and do so now?? pretty please?) and we were hoping to launch a feminist group on Converse's campus. We figured we had nothing to lose!

So after dropping some materials off at the English department, we found the History and Politics department located on the same floor. There was only one door in the department partially open. The professor welcomed us into her office and as Tania was explaining the campus program, conference, and what we were trying to do at Converse, I started to look at the floor-to-ceiling bookcases. Titles like: Women in the New Deal. The Creation of Patriarchy. A Feminist History. Feminism and Domesticity. A bumper sticker: "Women belong in the House. And the Senate. And the Oval Office."

Hark! Could it be? A feminist! "It looks like we're in good company!" I said.

We lucked out. Tucked away in a corner of this academic building was a treasure trove of feminism! The professor was more than happy to help us spread the word about the conference, and was totally stoked at the idea of a feminist activist group getting started on campus. Just like that, we made an invaluable contact with someone who we couldn't have found, had we not stumbled into her office and had the guts to just say "Hi, Professor. We're here from the Feminist Majority Foundation, and we wanted to speak with you about some upcoming opportunities for Converse students and faculty...do you have just a minute to talk with us?"

Moral of the story: There are feminists everywhere. You just have to get out there and find them!

Photo credit: flickr.com/Rich Anderson


Emily said...

This warmed my heart. Miss you both here up north!

WendyM said...

Glad to hear all of your hard work is paying off--and so exciting that you stumbled into the office of that professor!