High tea celebrates 50 years of women’s history

High tea celebrates 50 years of womens history

Susie Skowronek

People expect high tea to be a formal gathering with lace-trimmed parasols and watercress sandwiches. But EqualiTea reminds Grand Valley State University that historically, women gathered at tables to share more than just sips of earl grey.

“Tea parties come with a history from the women’s suffrage movement,” said JoAnn Wassenaar, assistant director of the Women’s Center. “Women gathered to talk about getting out the right to vote.”

The EqualiTea, sponsored by the Women’s Center and Women and Gender Studies, will take place at 3 p.m. today in the Grand River Room of Kirkhof Center. Registration for the event is closed.

The event combines a tea party with a fashion show that will educate the audience about women’s history.

“It’s meant to be a fun and educational event to attend,” Wassenaar said. “We keep it light and interactive.”

A hostess will serve the seven guests seated at her table, and she will lead discussions with questions called “Crumpets for Conversation.”

Students and faculty will also read submissions from In Our Own Words: A Journal About Women.

As a part of Women’s History Month, EqualiTea will raise awareness about the roles women have played over the years.

“The key is just the celebration of what we have accomplished,” Wassenaar said.

The event also ties into the 50th Anniversary celebration because the fashion show will feature clothing from the past five decades, going back to when GVSU was founded.

“We use the clothes to tell a story about women’s history through the decades,” said Marlene Kowalski-Braun, director of the Women’s Center.

The script gives the audience a chance to reflect on gender norms and how these constructions have restricted women throughout history.

The clothing modeled will show how women’s rights have progressed in the past 50 years and how far they have yet to come.

“If clothing is a reflection of women’s status in society, what do you think current trends suggest about the state of women?” one Crumpet for Conversation asks. “Based on these trends, where do you predict we are headed?”

The discussion will look at reformations that have occurred including the civil rights movement, the Vietnam War, family planning, the women’s rights movement and women in the workforce.

“We will look at what was happening to women during that time,” Wassenaar added.

[email protected]

There is still one more week to celebrate Women’s History Month. Here are some events to check out:

Raising Voices Against Violence

1 p.m. on Friday in the Pere Marquette Room of Kirkhof Center

Peer Theatre Educators will present realistic scenarios to demonstrate situations of dating violence, sexual assault and stalking to educate and engage audience members.

Beyond Words: Your Gendered Experience

7 p.m. on Friday in the Cook-DeWitt Center

Student Anna Bennett produces a showcase of student creative interpretations of the topic gender and the intersection of oppression and discrimination. The show will be similar to The Vagina Monologues and the performances will range from dances to poetry.

Leading the Way: Feminism, Activism, Education

8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday in the Eberhard Center

Scholars will give presentations at the Michigan Women’s Studies Association Conference with Susan Douglas, author of books about feminism, giving the luncheon keynote address. Pre-registration is required at www.gvsu.edu/wgs and costs $60 for MWSA members, $70 for non-members and $50 for students.

Susan Douglas: Enlightened Sexism

12:45 p.m. to 2:45 p.m. on Saturday in the Eberhard Center

Professor Susan Douglas, professor and chair of Communication Studies at the University of Michigan, will give a keynote speech for which pre-registration only costs $30.

In Her Own Words, Women’s Center Journal Reading

1 p.m. on Monday in the Caf?© Biblioteque of the Zumberge Library

Students, faculty and staff will read selections from In Our Own Words: A Journal About Women, a compilation of poetry, short fiction an creative nonfiction about women’s issues.

War on Terror and War on Trafficking: How Irrational Panic over Modern Slavery Harms Women

5 p.m. on Wednesday in the Cook-DeWitt Center

Emi Koyama, a social justice and sex work activist, will discuss how issues such as human trafficking can devastate the lives of marginal people in the sex industry.