March turns ‘history’ into ‘her-story’

In honor of Women’s History Month, Diana Palardy, director of women’s studies, is prepared to celebrate with speakers, film screenings and panel discussions.

This year’s keynote speaker is Marge Piercy. She will discuss her poetry and fiction at 7 p.m. on March 21 in Beeghly Hall’s McKay Auditorium. Palardy described Piercy as “an amazing poet and an extremely prolific writer.”

“She’s a really big figure in the feminist movement, and she has written poems that have shown up in all the anthologies of women’s studies,” Palardy said.

Both Piercy and Palardy stressed the importance of women’s history.

“In general, Americans lack any sense of history,” Piercy wrote in an email. “That means we have no idea how we got where we are, so if we want something to change, we lack the knowledge of how people changed things in the past and what didn’t work. We don’t know where we came from. We don’t know who did what to who.”

Palardy added that Women’s History Month is a time to remember women of the past and the present.

“Before, I always used to think [Women’s History Month] was just about history,” Palardy said. “But I think it has to do with both history and the way that women are currently making history — history in the present, so to speak.”

Joanie Cleckner, a third-year information technology major, is enrolled in Palardy’s Introduction to Women’s Studies course. She feels that March is a time to remember the suffragettes.

“When I was growing up, history was filled with men. I never learned about Alice Paul, Rosa Parks or Susan B. Anthony,” Cleckner said. “We have to be grateful for these women and what they’ve done for us.”

Palardy said she feels that female students and faculty still face issues unique to women.

“Students are driven by issues related to women in the media, pay and equity, and issues related to body image, rape, domestic violence and verbal abuse,” Palardy said. “The population of women as a whole sometimes recognizes different issues.

Issues of reproductive rights is a really, really big one right now.”

Inaccessible contraception, ageism and unequal representation in the government are also issues that remain pertinent to women, Piercy said.

Speakers, film screenings and panel discussions will tackle some of these issues.

Palardy called Women’s History Month “interdisciplinary,” adding that she believes students and faculty from various departments can get interested in this year’s events.

Bradley Dubos, a second-year English education major, said he hopes to hear Piercy speak.

“I aspire to have my own writing published someday. So, I look forward to hearing Piercy’s presentation to see what I can learn from her,” he said. “I’m sure it will be an insightful event.”