Female and male members of DFC promote women’s rights

Hayley Vatch

The Downer Feminist Council was formed in the 1970s with the goal of promoting gender equality both on and off the Lawrence campus. Named for Milwaukee-Downer College, the women’s college with which Lawrence College combined in 1964 to form Lawrence University, DFC currently has about 12 students of both genders that attend regular meetings, and an e-mail list of nearly 100, proving that gender equality truly is an important issue to many Lawrentians.
Meetings for DFC are held every Wednesday at 9 p.m. in the Co-op house next to Sage Hall. Annual and ongoing programs sponsored by DFC include speakers from various women’s rights organizations, including a session on contraceptive access given by university nurse Carol Saunders. Additionally, DFC annually hosts a sex workshop which includes a raffle of sex toys, healthy sex advice, as well as a discussion of female masturbation.
DFC celebrates the female gender on International Women’s Day every March 8th by hosting talks from Lawrence professors and readings about the different aspects of feminism which are also discussed at meetings.
“Wisdom while you wait,” a posting of current events dealing with feminism, is one way in which DFC expresses their views to the entire Lawrence campus. The group helps women worldwide by writing letters and campaigning in favor of gender equality, for American women as well as women all over the world. Recently, DFC petitioned against the television show “The Swan,” which members felt displayed gender differences in an unfair way.
Rachel Long, a senior who has been a member of DFC since her freshman year at Lawrence, says that feminism is not exclusive to women: “To me, feminism is just as much about breaking down negative stereotypes for men as it is for women.” Long uses her belief in feminism to help DFC grow. “A feminist organization is important to every campus,” she says, “because there are still so many issues that need to be addressed to achieve gender equality, especially in terms of reproductive rights, business and education equity, international women’s rights, and general abandonment of harmful gender stereotypes.”
DFC hopes not only to elevate women’s’ positions in society, but also to help all students understand that both genders are equal and important in different ways.