“How do you define women?” poet Porsha Olayiwola asked a group of students. The room went silent for a moment. Soon, audience members began to offer their own interpretations of womanhood, commencing “Gate Keepers: On Examining Privilege,” a feminist workshop led by Olayiwola.
In recognition of Women’s History Month, students gathered in CaMD last Sunday afternoon for the workshop, which focused on feminist identity and misogyny, and was organized by PA’s Intersectional Feminist Forum (IFFo). Sakina Cotton ’24, Co-Head of IFFo with Dori Rosenstrauch ’23, reflected on why IFFo decided to bring in Olayiwola.
“We are taking this opportunity to do [the workshop] now when everyone is thinking about women in their lives, and gender roles. And so we are just capitalizing on this opportunity when people want to take this time and think about feminism, and that’s why we thought it would be a great idea to have her,” said Cotton.
Attendee Louis Leone ’24 enjoyed the collaborative and thought-provoking nature of the workshop. He described an activity where Olayiwola would ask a question and students would move to different corners of the room depending on their answers.
“I think [the activity] was a pretty innovative way to get us to make a statement without actually saying something, but still feel welcome enough to share our voices and opinions… Everyone’s experiences are different and [these] conversations are important because then you are truly able to understand what other people are going through,” said Leone.
Attendee Quin Langham ’26 commented on what they found most valuable from Olayiwola’s workshop.
“I loved this workshop, I am very glad I sacrificed my homework to be here,” said Langham. According to them, their favorite part was “about how being from a suburban… or rural area influences your experience with misogyny, because that’s something that I’ve never really thought about before, and it was interesting to hear someone else’s thoughts,” said Langham.
As an IFFo Co-Head, Rosenstrauch mentioned that while workshops like Olayiwola’s may not directly change people’s viewpoints, they still generate conversations towards raising awareness of the systemic injustice against women.
“I think, a lot of the people who show up to these things are already ready to have these conversations, so I don’t know if the conversations here are going to address the problems outside of this community of people who are ready to work on them all the time,” said Rosenstrauch. “But, I just hope this is just another space for community, and joy, and just getting together on a spring, Sunday afternoon, and starting to talk about these things a little, as well.”
Olayiwola reflected on what she ultimately wants students to get from her workshop.
“[I hope students take away that] they are experts in their own experience. That they have each other. That they are powerful. That there is a lot of effed-up stuff in the world, but because of who they are and what they have, all of what’s inside, they can do whatever they need to do,” said Olayiwola.
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