It is unimaginable to so many of us that an initial calendar, one celebrating 35 years of a grassroots feminist organization, would be dedicated to men. The concept of a calendar is a very good one and the photos by Diane Bulter are excellent. However, the publication of a WCSC calendar should reflect the principles and mission in an accurate, historical context and, undeniably, women should be featured. Women made the organization happen. This should always be recognized. The calendar skews the history of an organization that was formed to end violence and aggression against women.
The historical milestones presented in the calendar are inaccurate, dismissive, distortive, and insulting. The initial statement that the Women’s Coalition was founded by 20 volunteers is extremely insulting and denigrating to the Founders of the Women’s Coalition. The founding of WCSC is known to have been the results of the first women writers’ conference on St. Croix, sponsored and organized by Dr. Gloria I. Joseph. The summary overlooks the key role Audre Lorde played in the founding of WCSC, and how consequently Mary Mingus spear-headed the organization.
It is a serious act of omission to mention Shabby Chic and the Home Store and not mention Closet-to-Closet. Shabby Chic and the Home Store are an off-shoot of Closet-to-Closet which was started by Mary Mingus. Likewise, the Alice Pfaelzer Children’s Center, properties on East Street and Fisher Street, and Sojourner House are initiatives of Mary Mingus. It is a gross insult that Mary Mingus was not given credit for these initiatives. This appears to be blatant revisionism.
The calendar represents the best confluence of patriarchy and capitalism imaginable. It demonstrates that WCSC has lost sight of its roots and the achievements of women and men. Ultimately, it is an example of how out of touch the current WCSC is not only with the organization’s ‘herstory,’ but with issues of contemporary racism, sexism, patriarchy and oppression.
To paraphrase a statement made by a WCSC administrator: the calendar featuring all men helps to refute the misconception that the WCSC does not like men. This statement is an affront to women. It has no currency of any kind in feminist discourse, and speaks to the essence of the antiquated, obsolete belief that the honoring of males can possibly alter patriarchic oppression.
The questions are: who is responsible for this calendar? Who created, edited and approved this document? What is the current decision making process in WCSC? Did you align and come to this decision collectively, or was this a unilateral decision which everyone sat by and passively approved.
There are several men who have played integral roles in the development of WCSC; men who demonstrated support for the mission and displayed the principal of non-violence in their lives. We wonder – what criteria were used for the 12 men? Most attractive – we can objectify? Most powerful? Best sellers? Pro-feminist??
Simply: It is incomprehensible that the entire WCSC Board of Directors and WCSC Staff could allow such distortion and misinformation to be presented to the public.
Dr. Gloria I. Joseph, founding member of WCSC and former board member
Ulla Neuburger, former board member and advocate of WCSC
The WCSC 2016 Calendar Comes Under Criticism
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