Gender Club facilitates education

Published 4:50 pm Thursday, February 4, 2016

Longwood University’s Gender Studies Club is at the forefront of gender education within the student culture on Longwood’s campus.

“I believe it’s important to the Longwood community because with the ever changing world, [the] human mindset must change along with it,” said club president Amelia Smith.

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She said the club is largely discussion-based, and at each meeting, a topic such as male and female beauty pursuits or gender representations with popular culture are discussed.

“We’ve even watched some Brady Bunch episodes to see how views of gender women have changed,” Smith said.

The Longwood Gender Studies Club meets every Tuesday at 6 p.m. Currently, there are five members in the club.

“I still know people who believe that there are only two genders, which simply isn’t the case,” said Smith. “I believe educating and talking about these topics is essential to growing with the world and being more accepting of all humans on earth.”

She said the club is actively trying to recruit more members to join the initiative. 

David Magill, co-chair of Longwood’s Women and Gender Studies program, said the club was created in a Fall 2014 Introduction to Women’s and Gender Studies class by two students.

The professor said the club is an opportunity for students to convene and discuss important issues surrounding gender within the context of the current culture in an open environment.

“The group looks at cultural issues and allows for students of different genders and sexes to find a voice and a space for their concerns. It’s a place where theory meets praxis, in my mind,” Magill said.

According to the Longwood’s website, the goal of gender studies is to recognize that race, class, ethnicity, age, ability and sexual orientation play a critical part in the overall life experiences of men and women.

Professor Rhonda Brock-Servais, a faculty member who teaches in the program, said, “Gender Studies asks people to question their assumptions. The thing is, we live in a world where people tend to think we’re past all that, but we really aren’t. Gender and how it gets enacted and enforced, for both men and women has a tremendous, usually unstated, influence on our lives.  If we want to live mindfully, of both ourselves and others, we need to think about such things.”

According to Smith, students lead discussions during club meetings.

“The Women’s and Gender Studies program is important, I think, because it offers students a means of understanding their experiences,” said Magill.

He said the program creates “opportunities for social justice, learning strategies for combating sexism and gender discrimination, and developing awareness of gender issues in our culture and how they impact both men and women.”