Following a summer submerged in USC scandals and a year of increasing awareness about sexual misconduct, feminism has risen to top of the pot. Looking at the headlines, one could say that the push for gender equality has become more prominent, if not stronger, than ever before.
On Aug. 27, the day after Women’s Equality Day, the Student Assembly for Gender Empowerment (SAGE) will host USC’s first ever Feminist Involvement Fair, a biannual forum to raise awareness for gender empowerment, at McCarthy Quad from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. A variety of on- and off-campus organizations will be present — including Planned Parenthood L.A., the Feminist Majority Foundation and the Gender Studies Department. There are also many unexpected organizations on the list; many of them are not overtly focused on gender issues, but their participation is a reminder that gender issues comprise the basis of so many other issues, and taking steps toward gender equality can help in resolving other societal issues.
USC’s Asian Pacific American Student Assembly, which oversees 26 Asian Pacific American member organizations on campus, is one of the organizations participating in the Feminist Involvement Fair. Women of color tend to be forgotten and underrepresented in society, making women’s rights minority rights as well. Many of feminism’s flagship issues — the gender wage gap, reproductive rights and gender discrimination — disproportionately affect women of color more than their white peers. The inclusion of groups that fight for minority representation, like APASA and Black Women for Wellness, is an acknowledgement of these issues.
USC Women of Cinematic Arts will also be present, helping draw attention to gender equality in media and entertainment. Following the Harvey Weinstein scandal and the subsequent #MeToo movement, the film industry has been rocked with the sudden exposure of the countless cases of gender inequality and sexual harassment and violence. Our film school and various industry-related organizations like USC Women of Cinematic arts have become instrumental in fighting gender inequality on campus. Prominent donors like director Bryan Singer have gone unacknowledged by USC and its programs because of sexual misconduct allegations. But cases like Singer’s are indicative of the nature of sexual assault — though it is a feminist issue, it is also one for all genders. Gender empowerment is needed in all circles of society and industry, and organizations like the Women of Cinematic Arts are helping to promote equality not only on campus, but also for USC’s own representation in society and industry.
USC’s Environmental Student Assembly is also participating in the Feminist Involvement Fair. But environmental issues appear to be isolated from other societal issues — it is thought that they are solved through innovation, technology and collective lifestyle choices. However, environmental dangers affect not only minority groups, but the reproductive safety and health of women around the globe, as poor air and water quality has proven detrimental effects on female reproductive health. The presence of USC Environmental Student Assembly is a reminder that feminism is a global issue, just as environmental protection is, and both affect each other in different ways.
A more overtly feminism related club is USC Family Planning, which works to provide information on various facets of family planning, such as reproductive rights, contraception and sex education. Though its services may seem intuitive, many students are unaware of this campus resource, and its participation in the Feminist Involvement Fair will hopefully raise awareness and provide important information to those who need it.
This event is a laudable step toward awareness on our campus, and brings forth so many otherwise forgotten issues. The wide-ranging Feminist Involvement Fair successfully shows that feminism does not stop with #MeToo exposes and Women’s Marches — it affects all marginalized groups, and requires constant, steady action toward progress.