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SWA spells out what 'F-Word' really means

September 27, 2012

By Samah Assad

In an effort to dispel the myths that often cloud the definition of feminism, Cleveland State's chapter of Student Women's Association (SWA) launched the “F-Word Symposium,” a feminism education project, on Friday, Sept. 21 in the Student Center Atrium.

As part of its efforts to eliminate stereotypes, SWA launched a quiz for students — 'Are You a Feminist?' Many who took the quiz were surprised that they hold views that would be considered feminist.

According to Laura Bliesner, president of SWA, the prime characteristic that makes someone a feminist is essentially supporting the rights of women, no matter what sex or gender someone is. The organization wants to show people that feminism is not some extreme view, she explained. It is about positive views on gender fairness that most likely many people hold, but they just don't know it.

“A lot of people are under the misconception that gender equality means both sexes are the same, and it's not,” Bliesner said. “It means opportunity and equality in potential is the same.”

Additionally, at the symposium the organizers also made available a variety of resources and information on women’s issues to the students. This included information for local and national women's support groups that women on campus can be connected with, such as the CSU Counseling Center, Planned Parenthood and the Rape Crisis Center.

SWA provided free feminine products, voting information through the Feminist Majority Network and women's health and wellness information. Along with incorporating more of a feminism flavor to the organization this year, Bliesner said they are also focusing specifically on college issues such as drinking, date rape and eating disorders.

Tiana Nichols, a sophomore Early Childhood Education major, found the symposium as well as the resources provided beneficial to her and the CSU community.

“I think [SWA] answers a lot of questions that girls have and are afraid to ask,” Nichols said.

Bliesner added that there are endless links and resources through CSU's Women's Center in which her organization is closely knitted with. Due to its connections with countless networks, SWA is able to point students in the right direction for how to get help in any situation. The Women's Center is one of these networks and is open to women in need of any type of assistance, whether it's needing a safe place to breastfeed their children or if they need support when returning to school after being on a long break.

The Cleveland Food Bank also comes once a month to help people register and see if they're eligible for benefits. All students and walk-ins are welcome to both the Women's Center and SWA.

“Anything that affects women is something we're concerned about,” Bliesner said. “All of us that are involved in the group want to be there for women and their allies.”

SWA will host a screening of “Invisible War,” a documentary about military sexual trauma, on Nov. 8 in Fenn Tower Ballroom. Emmy- and Oscar-nominated filmmaker Kirby Dick will speak at the event.

To learn more about SWA, contact Laura Bliesner at 216-798-3876 or violet7@me.com.