This year’s Women’s History Month at Virginia Wesleyan University has been filled with a plethora of events. Many campus groups have teamed up to produce programs that promote the awareness of its importance.
One of the most successful of these events, “Walk a Mile in Her Shoes,” took place on March 8. Through the joined efforts of both the Student Health Center and the Student Activities departments, the event was made possible. Participants donated $5 in order to be a part of the experience, which would allow them to walk a mile around campus in high heel shoes. The funds went towards the Girls on the Run program as a donation.
April Christman, director of student health, and Sarah Guzzo, director of student activities, were very excited about the turnout of this event’s debut and the visible impact it made on those who participated. Saying that “it challenges gender stereotypes,” Christman stressed how the financial impact on the community and emotional impact on the students made it a positive thing.
The amount of people who participated or even just watched the walk confirmed both directors’ desire to put on the event again.
“I think now that we have the visibility and that the participants had so much fun, it will definitely grow in the future,” Guzzo said.
Many male students, professors and VWU staff members took a crack at walking a mile in high heels. It definitely was not easy, but participants were able to have some fun while learning about and supporting the ideas behind Women’s History Month.
Alex Cain, a student sophomore participant, expressed the difficulty in walking in the high heels, an aspect of gender stereotypes and expectations that the event hoped to confront.
“The uncomfortableness of the shoes definitely took some getting used to,” Cain said. He also expressed how fun it was to see everyone join together as a campus community to approach these topics. Sophomore Henry Handley added to this saying that “sprinting in high heels was [his] favorite part.”
Overall, “Walk a Mile in Her Shoes” proved to be a huge success. Everyone who participated in the event had a lot of fun and enjoyed the opportunity to support women. VWU’s Student Health Center and Student Activities departments look forward to hosting the walk again in the future with hopes of seeing an even bigger turnout.
Along with “Walk a Mile in Her Shoes,” VWU saw many other events take place during Women’s History Month. Thanks to the many developments in technology and the ability to more greatly and widely connect to people all over the world, guest speakers were able to host virtual speeches and discussions with students who registered prior to the event.
VWU welcomed Dr. Laura Puaca, who is an associate professor of history and director of women and gender studies at Christopher Newport University, to campus on March 3. Puaca’s presentation, titled “Betty Crocker and the Business of Blindness: Gender, Disability, and Post-World War II Consumer Culture,” was centered around the history of women through the lens of disability.
Puaca shed light on how the history of women has impacted other histories through the stories of blind homemakers. Topics such as disability and blindness that she specifically focused on all include a history of women that attendees were able to understand.
The Africana Studies program and Office of Gender and Sexuality Equity joined together to specifically celebrate and commemorate International Women’s Day on March 7. Dr. La Francis Rodgers-Rose gave a presentation via Google Meet titled “Black Women: Defining Self in the 21st Century.”
In conjunction with her founding many influential organizations, such as the Association of Black Sociologists in 1976 and the International Black Women’s Congress in 1983, and her experience and many accomplishments in academia through the lens of Black culture in sociology, Dr. Rodgers-Rose provided an educated experience through which to be inspired and informed.
The Robert Nusbaum Center also hosted a virtual event, which was titled “Electric Sex, Sticky Love, and Complex Marriage: Religion, Sex, and the Oneida Community.” Dr. Ellen Wayland-Smith introduced all who registered in advance to the community and story of John Humphrey Noyes’s society grounded in equality and polygamous relations through which the thread of women’s history can be seen.
Women’s History Month at VWU will round out with many other keynote speaker presentations and will conclude with the performance of Lisa Loomer’s “Roe,” directed by Professor of Theatre Dr. Sally Shedd. From March 31 until April 2, it will explore the history and stories of the influential Supreme Court case Roe v. Wade.
All in all, there are many events that have already happened and many other events in the future that are available for students to attend and experience for Women’s History Month here at VWU.