UC Santa Cruz is home to one of the oldest feminist studies departments in the United States, as well as many preeminent feminist professors and passionate students. But until now, there hasn’t been a student group that focuses solely on feminist discourse and organizing. Feminist Alliance, as it is tentatively called, is a new club that plans to take on that role.
“Most people are surprised there wasn’t already a feminist group at UCSC,” said Lindsay Frank, a fourth-year community studies major. “We take it for granted that everyone’s a feminist. But we need to do more.”
Frank helped bring inspiration for the club to UCSC after interning for six months at the Feminist Majority Foundation in Los Angeles for her field study, a requirement for the community studies major.
“We want to mobilize more students, spark a dialogue and interest in feminist activism,” she said.
The group held its first meeting on Feb. 25. Attendees discussed the challenges that feminist activists face today — primarily, the idea that feminism is unnecessary because gender equality has already been achieved.
“People think that because of history and all the movements of the 1960s, that’s eliminated sexism, when really that’s not the case for many women,” said Nick Thorwaldson, a fourth-year American studies major and politics minor from Porter.
Despite vast improvements in gender equality, women still face discrimination in many instances around the globe. The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO), the investigative branch of Congress, reports that women in the United States today make an average of 80 cents on the dollar compared to men doing the same work. In other words, for every $100,000 a man makes, a woman makes $80,000 on average.
Jacqueline Sun and Alexandra McDonald, two national campus organizers from the Feminist Majority Foundation, stopped by UCSC as part of a Northern California campus tour to help get the club on its feet.
One issue the group discussed in detail was raising awareness of Crisis Pregnancy Centers. These are centers that advertise as comprehensive women’s health clinics but in reality offer no medical services.
“People think they are going to medical professionals,” Sun said. “Instead they’re going to volunteers that have an agenda.”
Religious groups and state governments often fund CPCs under laws for abstinence-only education.
Some states have made laws that CPCs must display disclaimers stating that they provide no medical services, but California has no such law. This issue is especially pertinent for college students because CPCs often advertise on college campuses. The Feminist Alliance plans to hold a film screening and distribute fliers to raise awareness of this issue in Santa Cruz.
The group plans to expand its activism beyond Santa Cruz as well.
“We’re working on the local level to effect national and global policy,” Sun said.
Other campaigns the group hopes to get involved in include increasing international funding for family planning, improving women’s health care in Afghanistan, improving child and mother mortality rates in the United States, and pushing the United States to approve international treaties against sex discrimination and child abuse.
Sun and McDonald emphasized that although the world has made huge improvements in gender freedom and equality, it’s important to remember that those rights aren’t guaranteed forever.
For example, Roe v. Wade, the controversial 1973 Supreme Court decision that protects reproductive freedoms, could soon be overturned.
“We take for granted things that we have,” Sun said. “Our generation wasn’t in that battle, but it’s so close to being taken away. We have to keep fighting for it.”
Students can find out more about joining, future meeting times and events by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org.