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Women’s History Month 2010 at Meramec Explained Why Feminism Still Matters

April 06, 2010

top: Jessica Valenti; bottom: The Clothesline Project  

Top: The 2010 Women's History Committee members with keynote speaker
Jessica Valenti. From left: Darlaine Gardetto, Shelly Lemons, Amanda White,
Vicki Ritts, Valenti, Denise Sperruzza, Jeanne Lamar, Emily Neal, and Katy Smith.

Bottom: A view of the Women's Clothesline Project on Thursday, March 25, 2010.
























Women’s History Month 2010 at Meramec sought to explain "Why Feminism Still Matters" and culminated in a vivid symbol of abuse and defiant hope: The Women's Clothesline Project.

On Friday, March 26, 2010, 42 T-shirts were waving in the wind on a clothesline strung between campus trees in the Library Quad. The Women’s Clothesline Project gave voice to the ongoing pain and suffering of women—in this case, women who were students, staff and faculty, all survivors of gendered violence. The project drew hundreds of participants, and as the clothesline grew longer throughout the week, women came forward to join others.

Some messages on the shirts were gruesome and sad. Some T-shirts were slashed and torn. “It was their chance to air their collective dirty laundry; the pain, shame, humiliation and ongoing suffering because of violence and abuse,” explained Karen Olson, professor in Behavioral Sciences and Clothesline Project organizer.

As the stories written on the shirts blew in the wind, a gong or whistle would systematically break the silence, a reminder that in this country every minute of every day more than one women is raped and every 14 seconds   a women is battered. A bell would ring as a toll for the three to four women who are murdered by their partners every day.

The month-long event began with a keynote address by Jessica Valenti, founder and editor of the popular blog and online community, Feministing.com, and the author of Full Frontal Feminism: A Young Woman’s Guide to Why Feminism Matters.

“As we close Women’s History Month, surely we can all agree that the war on women needs to end,” said Olson. “Surely we can all agree that, yes, feminism still does matter."