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Women’s History Month 2016

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2016 Events


iO Tillet Wright lecture,
"Widening Your Circle of Normalcy"

Wednesday, March 9, 2016
7 p.m.
Launer Auditorium, Launer Hall

Film and Discussion:

Boys Don't Cry

Thursday, March 3, 2016
 6 p.m.
Dulany Banquet Room, Dulany Hall

The History, Philosophy, and Political Science Department will host a screening of the film Boys Don't Cry. The film is based on the life of Brandon Teena, who hid his trans identity when he moved to a tiny Nebraska Town. But his secret was discovered, and Brandon's life was ripped apart.

Unabridged: a Lunch Discussion of Gender and Identity

Tuesday, March 15, 2016
11:15 a.m. - 12:15 p.m.
Dorsey Gym, Dorsey Hall

The Philosophy Club will host a dialogue on issues about gender during a free Chipotle lunch.

What do we mean when we talk about 'gender'? Is it a strict classification, a customary description, or a subjective association? Is it biological, psychological, or cultural? Is it consistent among persons, or in the same individual over time? What role ought self-regarding judgments about gender serve in shaping the associations attributed to us by others, and vice-versa?

Finale Event: 

Creativity in Community

Tuesday, March 22, 2016
  4 p.m.
Dorsey Gym, Dorsey Hall

Join the Columbia College campus and Columbia community for our Women’s History Month finale as we celebrate creativity and expression. Featuring entertainment by stand-up comedian HartBeat, an exhibit by local artists, a photo booth, free food, and games and prizes. 

Conversations about Gender Identity and Community

Who are you, and who am I? Human beings exhibit a strong tendency to characterize one another with labels – from first encounters through years of acquaintance. On some views, this is an inherent aspect of what it is to be human. We sort and categorize the people we meet into groups in order to make better sense of the world. And we also apply labels to ourselves, referring to ourselves and identifying in terms of relationships, sexuality, ethnicity, occupations, hobbies, worldviews, and more.

Labeling each other and ourselves in this way is fraught with difficulty. For instance, there are no guarantees that the labels we have available are adequate to the task: people are complicated, and nearly any identity we might consider represents just one point on a continuum. In particular, gender is more open to question than ever before, with good reason to think that binary ideas and dichotomy based labels – female or male – create more confusion than clarity.

Because of the potential for such labels to be hurtful, destructive, and constraining, Women’s History Month 2016 is devoted to a month-long conversation about gender identity. We invite Columbia College students, staff and faculty as well as members of the community to join us for a series of events devoted to broadening our understanding about the human experience of gender.‚Äč

iO Tillett Wright

iO Tillet Wright photographed by Ryan Pfluger photo by Ryan Pfluger

The keynote speaker for Women’s History Month 2016 knows all about the boxes people expect one another to fit into: iO Tillett Wright characterizes herself as “the ultimate unicorn” and a committed “feather ruffler,” actively rejecting stereotypical gender identities in favor of the identity she has crafted for herself over a lifetime with every means at her disposal -- photographic, video, public talks, and literary. And yet, she observes, “There is no time of the day, if I’m in public, where there isn’t somebody trying to figure out what I am – and that’s exhausting!"(1)

iO's longest running project in progress is Self-Evident Truths. Since 2010, she has traveled the United States photographing people who identify as "anything other than 100% straight." In her 2012 TED talk "50 Shades of Gay," which has been viewed over 3 million times, she explains that the project portrays the humanity and normality of people who identify throughout the gender and sexuality spectrum. In doing so, she illustrates how people who assume all of their acquaintances must be straight are very likely wrong. When she has accumulated 10,000 portraits, she plans to exhibit them in Washington, D.C.

iO has exhibited her artwork in New York and Tokyo, and has published three limited edition photography books. She was a featured contributor for T Style Magazine at The New York Times for two years. Her work has also been featured in The New York Times MagazineNew YorkBrooklyn, Dossier, GQ, Elle, Bomb, HUGE, and The New Order magazines. She published a street art magazine, Overspray, for five years, and has also directed several independent music videos. iO was a professional film and theater actor until the age of 20. Recently, she became a co-host of Suspect, a new MTV reality show. And her memoir, Darling Days, is available for pre-order with release scheduled by Ecco Books for September.

You can learn more about iO's work at her website, Connect with her online at Instagram (iolovesyou), tumblr (DandyDarling), Twitter (@iOlovesyou), or facebook (/iotillettwright).

(1) “A Boy, A Girl, A Gender Revolutionary: iO Tillett Wright,” an episode of What’s Underneath

iO Tillett Wright will speak on "Widening Your Circle of Normalcy" on Wednesday, March 9, 2016 at 7 p.m. in Launer Auditorium on the Columbia College campus.

The History of Women's History Month

First begun as a local celebration of women's history in Santa Rosa, California in 1978, the movement for a national celebration of women's history gained momentum in 1979 at the Women's History Institute at Sarah Lawrence College. In February 1980 President Jimmy Carter issued a presidential proclamation recognizing the week of March 8, 1980 as National Women's History Week. Carter's proclamation coincided with resolutions in the House of Representatives and the Senate that declared support for National Women's History Week.

The movement continued to grow as individual states expanded these week-long celebrations to month-long recognition, so that by 1987 Congress issued a declaration of March as Women's History Month in perpetuity. The celebration continues to be marked by an annual presidential proclamation. For more on the history of women's history month, visit the National Women's History Project website.

Why March?

March was selected for the first women's history celebration in 1978 because of the celebration of March 8th as International Women's Day, which has been celebrated in various countries around the world since the early 1900s. By 1917 the date became firmly fixed on March 8 in recognition of a strike for "bread and peace" carried out by Russian women in the opening days of the Russian Revolution. For more information on International Women's Day visit

Columbia College and Women's History

Columbia College, founded in 1851 as Christian Female College, has a rich history of providing education for women and of producing women who become forces of change in the world. Christian College's origins lie in the desire on the part of its founders to provide a quality liberal arts education for their daughters, who were denied admission at the University of Missouri where many of the founders were teachers and administrators. The opening of the school in 1851 marked the first institution of higher education for women west of the Mississippi. Christian College continued to provide educational opportunities for young women, and in 1970 extended its mission and opened its doors to men for the first time. Now as Columbia College, the community marks the significance of its own history and the contributions of women around the world to making history happen by hosting a series of events to celebrate Women's History Month.

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