History of Tea with the Feminists

The annual Tea With the Feminists is coming back to campus next week for its sixteenth year on campus.

The event, which started in 1999, has a yearly theme and aims to “provide a place to self-identify as feminists” and “also has been a welcoming space for women,” according to Heather Wright, director of the women’s studies program.

“Being a feminist is not gendered,” Wright added. Male faculty and students also attend the event.

Suzanne Smailes, head of technical services in Thomas Library, said, “the event has always been pretty successful; everyone is welcome, and the food is always great.”

While the event maintains an annual theme and, of course, tea and food, some things have changed since its start.

“The way that it’s been constructed has changed,” Wright said.

Wright mentioned the event started in the library, and attendees brought in readings on a certain theme. The event was later held in the Benjamin Prince House and more recently in Ness Auditorium.

The themes are usually selected through collaborative brainstorming of the women’s study program committee, which comprises faculty from various academic areas and university staff.

Some past topics and themes include: women and war, Eleanor Roosevelt, women of the world and Poland’s underground abortions.

While students don’t necessarily bring in readings anymore, the event still focuses on the annual theme. The theme of 2015 is pornography and looking at it from a feminist view.

“Porn is something for feminists to pay attention to,” Wright said.

This year, there will be a screening of Gail Dines’ “Pornland: How the Porn Industry Hijacked Our Sexuality” with a discussion following the film.

“The Internet has had a huge impact on our access to pornography,” Wright said, adding that “pornography has driven the development of technology.”

Although there have been many estimates on what percentage of the Internet is made up of pornographic material, a “Forbes” article reports that in 2010, “out of the million most popular (most trafficked) websites in the world, 42,337 were sex-related. That’s about four percent of sites.”

Forbes also writes that “from July 2009 to July 2010, about 13 percent of web searches were for erotic content.”

The screening of “Pornland” and discussion will take place in Ness Auditorium, Wednesday Feb. 25, from 4 to 6 p.m.

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