Monday, March 9, 2009


The daughters of the revolution are sitting comfortably on donated couches. They share a hallway with the leftovers of the free love, who hand out condoms without questions, share it with the Harvey Milk's reclaiming the rainbow and breaking out of the closet. This is the subversive basement of sex, love and gender neutrality. The Camosun College Women’s Center is located in the basement of Richmond house, alongside the Pride Society, and the Island Sexual Health Society. The gateway into this epicenter of emergence is a blue steel utility door in the bottom left corner of the building, near a water heater and an overgrown garden. To the passerby, it could be a utility door; behind it hides the grid of wires and gears that keep the college chaos culture spinning. To those who frequent these facilities, this space does just that.

“We need something that’s just more… more vaginal!”
“Yea, I’m thinking just the word VAG.”
Discussions are taking place about the images to put on buttons, which will advertise the upcoming performance of The Vagina Monologues. Seeing this moment unfold, makes me wish that the shades could be drawn, to avoid the stereotypes leaking through the windows that all women do in Women’s Centers is talk about their vagina.
“Clit man, clit and lips. It’s not the Indiscernible Genital Monologues”
Do the women do just sit on couches, read inflammatory feminist literature and talk about their vaginas? Dream up fashionable vagina accessories? Is this space exclusive to it’s non-members? Perhaps this exclusion is needed. The space, by means of its physical existence, makes room for discourses and progression. These women are talking about their vaginas, speaking for the women in the world who can’t let their bodies speak.
* * * * * * * * * * *
The space is my best friend’s apartment, my mother’s kitchen. Women dribble in throughout the day, bringing bowls of oranges, baskets of condoms. The windows are painted with words, dotting the landscape outside with quips of inspiration. “Only Yes means Yes” and “Make Herstory” grow alongside the blades of grass, wrap around the Gary Oaks. Bookshelves fill with ethical porn, feminist slanted rantings and chantings. All the waves of feminism are cresting here, lapped up by these women, enjoying the fruits of their laborious mothers. Many would argue that feminism died with punk rock, and should be buried in the shallow grave of the 1970s. Others, would argue that the fight has barely begun.
Women’s Centers first were created in the 1970s, a time when it was understood that ever other space on campus was inherently a man’s space. It was through this understanding that it was decided that women needed and deserved a space where they could plan and mobilize, without the infiltration on men’s bodies and minds.
Since their inception, Women’s Centers have been under critique from all genders as to their nessecity and importance. The question is often posed of how any group fighting for equal rights and acceptance can expect results when they themselves are guilty of excluding and ostracizing their “oppressor.” The mandate of all Women’s Center’s has made a clear answer to this: The space is not about the alienation of men, but the empowerment of women.
So how do our mothers and their mothers and their mothers feel about our direction? Are we looking after the property they staked claim to, with their jobs, families and lives? “I get very disgusted with the younger generation of women.” says feminist journalist Erma Bombeck, “We had a torch to pass, and they are just sitting there. They don’t realize it can be taken away.”
Where are my generation’s hands failing? Is it when we let our genders figureheads be oversexualized skeletons? When, in many places, we allowed the right to our bodies and wombs to be taken away from us? Perhaps it happens every time an ass get’s smacked, everytime a woman rubs “Ruby Red” lipstick on closed lips, instead of opening them to speak.
* * * * * * * * * * *
“The movement isn’t our movement anymore, we just embody it and live it in our day to day,” says a woman in the Center’s kitchen, slicing an orange into segments to share. “Of course it’s our fucking movement! If it isn’t our movement, then its definitely not fucking moving is it? And further more, if it’s not our movement, then who fucking movement is it?” vents another, punctuating her passion by banging her cigarette pack against the table. The fire burns brighter in some of us more than others. Perhaps that is how we’ve carried the torch; by allowing small sections of it’s flame to be spread out however the bearer sees fit. When a woman decides to leave her abusive husband, she’s carrying the torch. Standing up to a sexist professor is carrying the torch. Getting an education is carrying the torch
The space is a relaxing place to study for some; a haven away from the feeding trough of the cafeteria, from the itchy fluorescent library. For others, the place is a vehicle for change; what city lights was to the beat poets.
These women on these couches, drinking cups of coffee and pursuing education, are they thinking of their sisters? As they gripe about the ability to take off their shirts in public, the freedom to hold their sexuality to whichever they candle they choose, are they thinking of their sisters?
These daughters of the revolution are ranting and raving, being and believing, because of their sisters.
Sisters who cannot expose their skins or minds in the presence of men. Sisters whose bodies bear the marks of a stifled sprit. Sisters sold to the west for sex. Sisters, who take care of whom they are told to take care of, hide when they are supposed to hide, and fuck when they are supposed to fuck.
It is because of their sisters that these women rant and rave, these women take up space. It is with them in mind, that they use their voices. Because they know that they are the one-per centers. Women who outnumber men on this campus. Women who decide when and what they are going to study. Women who decided if and with whom their bodies will be shared. Women who have monolouges with vaginas and know their bodies on the schedule of the moon.
These women take up this space in this building, because of all the women in the world, who forced to take up as little space as they can.