A third wave of feminism
Feminism seems set to become an officially integrated part of studying at the RUG: plans for an interdisciplinary gender studies minor have been developed in the arts faculty. Outside the university’s walls, Groningen will be the site of a women’s march which will thread through the city centre on Saturday, March 11th. There is even a club for the cause: the Groningen Feminist Network was founded last spring and has weekly meetings with at least 20 regular members.
Is Groningen a hub for feminist activities? If it is up to RUG students Cornelia Hefting and Floor Bakker, the co-organisers of the Women’s March Groningen, it will be. The two Greek and Latin students are motivated to draw positive attention to ongoing inequality in the world, along with the other eight members of the volunteer organisation behind the march. The volunteers can be identified by their black hoodies featuring the silhouettes of three women’s faces, the logo for the international Women’s March movement.
‘I just see that inequality still exists, and one series of marches worldwide does not have the immediate impact that we want to have’, Hefting says, who is also helping to organise a series of lecture on International Women’s Day at the RUG. ‘There was first wave feminism in the 1910s and ‘20s, and a second wave in the ‘70s, and I think we may be heading toward a third wave of feminism right now’, Hefting says.
Political events both abroad and here in the Netherlands are also cause for concern, according to Hefting. ‘Trump’s inauguration was the main motivation for the march in Washington’, she says. ‘In the Netherlands, we also have political parties that are not exactly focused on equality and are actively contributing to discrimination, and I think there is this fear across Europe that populists may come to power.’
Iris Busschers, a member of the Centre for Gender Studies in the arts faculty, seconds that opinion. ‘Look at the way that Wilders focuses on Muslims and how they’re supposedly a threat to women and LGBT people. I also think that the burkini ban in France was also not well received by feminist groups, so in that sense, it’s not just Trump, but it’s a broader movement in Europe as well.’
The Centre for Gender Studies has existed for several decades in the arts faculty and currently organises lectures and workshops. Busschers and two of her colleagues at the centre submitted plans for a gender studies minor last year – those plans were approved in the arts faculty and are currently in the hands of the board of directors of the RUG.
Although Busschers is actively involved in promoting equality in the RUG’s curriculum, she says that she remains concerned about the amount of disparity and discrimination against minorities of all kinds in society. ‘Claims are being made very loudly [by politicians] that liberal values are important, yet simultaneously there remains a lot of inequality in the world.’
Events for equality
There are several events at the RUG and in the city focused on the role of women coming up this week:
10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Wednesday 8 March (International Women’s Day): History without a woman
Location: Exposition room, Harmonie complex
9:15 p.m, Wednesday, 8 March: Groningen Feminist Network meeting
Location: Cafe the Crown
12 p.m. Saturday, 11 March: Women’s March Groningen