This project is a collaboration between myself and Lexi Paulin. This is a window into the culture and community that women experienced throughout the years at Le Moyne. Our focus is on Ann Ryan, an alumni and professor, and a current student, Alyssa Kirley. We did extensive research with Le Moyne’s archives to track the history and the stories of feminism and women since 1946.
“Feminism is a dirty word” -Ann Ryan ’85
This interview with professor and alumnus Anne Ryan examines how society affected the culture on Le Moyne’s campus in the 1980’s. The gender roles were very defined and anyone who didn’t follow them were outsiders.
Our photo essay shows the passage of time through photographs. The obvious differences between the photographs shows how much women and campus has changed throughout the years.
“I felt tension between my urge to stand up to the men making these sexist comments on campus and the fear I felt in doing so. Would it make it worse? Would they hurt me?” -Alyssa Kirley ’17
Le Moyne’s Pheminist Club: Combating Sexism on Campus
Written by Lexi Paulin
Some people are still allergic to the f-word: feminism, that is.
According to an article in The New York Times, a recent poll appears to contradict the notion that feminism is gaining momentum in today’s society showing that only 18 percent of Americans consider themselves feminists, while 85 percent claim that they believe in “equality for women.”
Why, then, are people, who claim to believe in equality of the sexes—the textbook definition of feminism—reluctant to identify with the term?
“Feminism is often viewed as a dirty word,” Ann Ryan, an English professor at Le Moyne College, said. “Feminists are [often considered to be] man-hating, hairy-legged beasts and [people do not] want to be associated with feminists.”
But the college feminist of today is far different than the negative stereotypes suggest.
The modern-day feminist is much more conservative than their bra-burning predecessors, believing, as the voice of Nigerian novelist Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie echoes in Beyoncé’s hit song, “Flawless,” that a feminist is “a person who believes in the social, political and economic equality of the sexes.”
Nevertheless, feminism’s longstanding negative stereotypes have made it difficult for some college students to identify with the movement. Some, like Alyssa Kirley, a senior at Le Moyne College, admit to having been hesitant in the past to speaking up in defense of the feminist agenda even though she is a supporter of the cause.
“I’ve been catcalled and followed for wearing yoga pants on and off campus…I felt a tension between my urge to stand up to the men making these sexist comments and the fear I felt doing so,” Kirley said.
When Kirley began to stand up to the sexist remarks made by her classmates, the negative pushback she received from her peers, mostly male, prompted her to create a safe campus community that supports not only women, but all people: The Le Moyne College Pheminist Club.
The Le Moyne Student Government Association (SGA) initially denied Kirley’s request to recognize Pheminist Club as a college-approved club. Kirley appealed SGA’s denial and, at the beginning of the Spring 2017 semester, the formation of the Pheminist Club was officially approved.
“When I began actively listening to the injustices happening to women on campus I wanted to get more involved,” Kirley said. “The Pheminist Club is our way of combating the injustices women face on Le Moyne’s Campus…it is our way, as students, of furthering the feminist agenda.”
There are currently 40 active members in the Pheminist Club but its membership is growing on a daily basis.