By Cody-Leigh Mullin
Art gallery openings, open mics, workshops and documentaries are coming together in an effort to celebrate the multi-faceted female community during UC Santa Cruz’s first Sister Solidarity month, from Feb. 23 through March 15.
The kick-off will take place at the Women’s Center, with a photography showcase by two female students that will highlight women that have been important to their lives. As an additional part of the gallery, students will be able to post pictures of women important in their lives on a corkboard montage. Women’s Center director Roberta Valdez served as adviser for the upcoming projects, many of which will be hosted at the Women’s Center.
“This is the first time that a consorted effort has been made across organizations and units — people are being invited to hook up,” Valdez said. “There might be a women’s history month and various groups around campus doing things, but they’re never really joined together.”
Valdez, along with numerous other campus groups and individuals will be hosting various events around campus, all with a common theme: “Honoring our strength through her strength.”
Film showings throughout the month aim to highlight and raise awareness for different cultures, ethnicities, sexualities and socio-economic backgrounds. One of these, “don’t need you,” is a documentary about the 1990s underground feminist punk movement Riot Grrrl, the ever-changing music scene, and the evolution of feminism through music and activism. On March 6, the Women’s Center will show “Sisters in Law,” which follows two women in the judicial system while they help women with cases of abuse in Cameroon, where speaking out for women’s rights is not acknowledged.
Interns at the Women’s Center have created the project with the aim of representing and connecting various ideas within the female community. Intern Michelle Potts will host two events, both with different themes but a common objective.
Potts will screen “Fighting For Our Lives” in congruency with the Inside-Out Writing Project, which examines the treatment and stigma surrounding women in the prison system. Potts hopes to spark discussion and concern among students through the means of the documentary.
“We want to bring awareness to some of the circumstances women are faced with in prison, the reasons for why there is such a high percentage of women in prison right now,” Potts said.
Another film hosted by Potts, “Seniorita Extraviada,” focuses on the story and reasons behind the disappearance, rape, and murder of women in Juárez, Mexico. Other films are meant to reevaluate cultural norms which men and women do not regularly see as an issue.
Intern Dabeiba Dietrich will be examining hip-hop and what stereotypes are generally attached to the genre of music in an event entitled, “Through the Lens of Hip-Hop: Masculinity beyond Men.” She is leading the event in light of Byron Hurt’s documentary “Hip-Hop: Beyond Beats and Rhymes,” who will be speaking at UCSC April 17.
“[Hurt] examines how mainstream hip-hop is being represented to our generation and younger generations as this hyper-masculine, homophobic, really gendered avenue,” Dietrich said. “So he examines how this type of hyper-masculine ideal affects not just men, but women as well, especially women of color. Women in hip-hop are objectified.”
In the workshop and discussion portion of the event, participants will watch examples of mainstream music videos in which masculine stereotypes are perpetuated. Dietrich will counter these portrayals by giving examples of artists who choose not to give into to media stereotypes, yet still continue to make it in the hip-hop and spoken word genre.
“We’re going to try to critically examine hip-hop and what the media is spitting at us, and not just accept it and move on,” Dietrich said. “It repeats itself and is responsible for keeping in place these stereotypes of what being a man is, especially in communities of color.”
Stereotypes of gender and popular art are common themes of the events this month and will be explored by interns and dancers Nicole Dial and Silvia Guglie. Body image in the context of dance, primarily belly dance and flamenco, will be examined in a workshop and discussion about what stereotypes are attached to specific forms of dance and how it affects this generation.
“Those two dances are particularly exposed to a certain idea stereotype about women, and their reality is not the true reality,” Guglie said. “Even different film genres support different ideas and stereotypes about women involved in those dances.”
Calendars with scheduled events will be posted around campus to ensure that the word gets out to all students on campus. Intern Solymar Sola-Negron, who helped create the program, has high hopes for the event as a whole and anticipates a positive response from the students.
“In essence, a lot of communities are trying to be aware of what we are struggling for so we can be stronger together,” Sola-Negron said. “Having support of these kinds of events, which are really focused on the awareness of issues and solidarity, is really essential.”