From sabotage to support
WHAT: Western Library Reading Series with Joy Wiggins
WHEN: 4pm Thurs., Nov. 7
WHERE: Western Library Reading Room
WHAT: An Evening with Gloria Steinem
WHEN: 7:30pm Fri., Nov. 22
WHERE: Mount Baker Theatre, 104 N. Commercial St.
Wednesday, November 6, 2019
What do feminist icon Gloria Steinem and Western Washington University adjunct professor Dr. Joy Wiggins have in common?
A whole lot. For starters, they’re both interested in heady topics such as the origins of sex and race caste systems, how gender roles play an important part of people’s lives, nonviolent conflict resolution, the cultures of indigenous peoples and obliterating the patriarchy—especially when it comes to seeking equality across a variety of spectrums.
Additionally, they’re both authors. Wiggins and co-author Kami Anderson recently published From Sabotage to Support: A New Vision for Feminist Solidarity in the Workplace, and Steinem’s new book, The Truth Will Set You Free, But First it Will Piss You Off: A Lifetime of Quotes, is now on the shelves.
In coming days, the two will also share their feminist-focused visions in Bellingham’s public sphere. As part of Western Libraries’ Reading Series—which is dedicated to featuring the scholarly and creative work of WWU faculty and staff—Wiggins will discuss the concepts and solutions to be found in From Sabotage to Support at 4pm Thurs., Nov. 7 at Wilson Library.
A couple of weeks later, on Fri., Nov. 22, Steinem will make her way to town for a moderated conversation and Q&A at the Mount Baker Theatre. Wiggins plans to be in attendance, and already has a number of questions ready to go, including, “How do you think white women can stop being so violent against women of color?”
Wiggins is interested in hearing what Steinem has to say on the topic, but she’s already got a firm handle on what the answer should be.
“Our book is looking at the intersections of race and gender,” she says. “It’s a call to many different women about how they can make impactful changes rather than being divided by race. It started with white women pursuing their own interests, usually sidelining and marginalizing and being violent against women of color.”
A history of the feminist movement is included in their book, going back to the era of slavery in the United States, and even pointing out the inherent bias to be found within the movement itself—with white women dismissing those who differ from them in race or social status.
Because Anderson is a black woman and Wiggins is white, the two had vastly different perspectives when it came to how they’d been treated in both personal and professional spheres, and Wiggins said it made all the difference in how they approached the topic of women supporting rather than sabotaging each other.
“Black women and other women of color are put under enormous pressure,” Wiggins says. “The double-bind of race and gender together makes it even harder for them to thrive. The pay gap is even more, and the way we’ve been socialized affects the way we interact with each other in institutions originally created under a white male ideology.
“As women, we can’t thrive under a system we didn’t create.”