By Anne Haule
On Mother’s Day, a group of about 30 women (and a couple men), some of the women mothers and some not, gathered at the Lyceum Theater to celebrate with champagne and listen to a panel of experts discuss “The (True) History of Feminism in San Diego”. The panel, assembled by the Women’s Museum of California, preceded a viewing of “Rapture, Blister, Burn”, a contemporary Pulitzer-nominated play by Gina Gionfriddo – a funny and poignant feminist play running for another week that I highly recommend.
The panel, consisting of a politician, a research psychologist, both a professor and a masters student in women’s studies was moderated by Ashley Gardner, the Executive Director of the Women’s Museum.
First up was former United States Congresswoman, Lynn Schenk. Lynn shared her hurdles, being one of San Diego’s first women attorneys in the early 1970’s. She recounted her disappointment in not being accepted at her first choice law school because it had already filled its “quota of women”. While in congress she noted that many of her male counterparts, although supportive of the feminist agenda, were not supportive enough to “horse trade” women’s issues. Acknowledging many victories since the 70’s, she opined that feminism today is harder than in times past because discrimination is much more subtle.
Next up was Anne Hoiberg, former president of WMOC and currently responsible for its education program. Anne became a feminist in fourth grade when she was the first girl shortstop on the little league team of all boys. As a research psychologist, she studied the military and concluded that women in the military were more efficient than their male counterparts.
The third speaker was Doreen Mattingly, a professor of Women’s Studies and soon to be Chair of that department at SDSU. She proudly reminded the audience that in 1970 SDSU had the first Women’s Study Department in the country – a department that is thriving and teaching more students now than ever before in its history. She was optimistic that “there is something big happening” – as evidenced by the extraordinary numbers of high school student feminist clubs springing up all over the county. She believes that the young people view feminism as a collective issue rather than a personal issue. She also believes that immigration has fuelled a fresh new passion among its youth.
The last speaker was Emma Fuller, who is a grad student and is working on a certification program with Planned Parenthood. This program would offer a certification in reproductive justice for entities that provide a living wage, paid leave, anti-sexual harassment education, and climate action recycling programs. She stressed the “intersectionality” of today’s feminist movement.
I found the panel discussion to be particularly interesting as regards what is happening now among younger people and most specifically how the movement has broadened in its focus and is being fuelled in part by local immigration.
The Women’s Museum of California is a significant asset to our community and I recommend participation in its various events to educate and keep the cause of feminism alive and well in our community.
Rapture, Blister, Burn
By Gina Gionfriddo
Directed by Sam Woodhouse
Showing: April 21 – May 15, 2016
Where: Lyceum Space, Horton Plaza