The Raw Deal hosted a bold “Yes! I’m a Feminist” fundraiser and poetry slam on Thursday, April 5. Dr. Rickie Anne Legleitner, director of University of Wisconsin–Stout’s women and gender studies program, organized the event.
The fundraiser encouraged attendees to donate to the women and gender studies program because it is not funded by the university. “Anything we are funding comes from outside of Stout,” said student Chelsey Schindeldecker, winner of the slam competition, “Which is kind of interesting, but it means that people are really passionate about it because people are giving to it.”
Although only a handful of people signed up to share poetry, there were a lot of last-minute additions from people who were encouraged to recite their favorite feminist poems.
The event was well-received, which took both Legleitner and Schindeldecker by surprise. “I am so excited that so many people came out to hear the poetry and to participate,” said Legleitner. Schindeldecker agreed with the sentiment, saying, “We were not expecting this many people to come out and perform. More than half of the people that performed were on the fly. Most people weren’t prepared at all. It was definitely an empowering event.”
Some people have strong opinions about the program not being funded by Stout. Stout alum Valerie Hanson said, “The university as an entity can do a lot more to promote feminism, and I feel feminism can be promoted more.” Hanson graduated from Stout with a minor in women and gender studies.
Attendee, Ryan Leckel, also felt passionately about the subject, he said, “When you talk about feminism, you are talking about empowerment; you are talking about a movement that improves the lives of everyone, and when the school doesn’t want anything to do with it, that’s an issue. I am glad that there are people who are talking about it and raising these issues.”
“I think it is even more relevant this year with the ‘Me Too’ movement, and the ‘Time’s Up’ movement,” said Legleitner, “It’s really about getting women’s voices out there, and I think the women and gender studies program at Stout is really in a great position to support women here on campus.”
Legleitner was not alone in this thought. Schimdeldecker said, “The poetry slam was important because when you read poetry on paper, you don’t always grasp it or don’t hear it. When you see someone do it, you get a different tone; you get some of those underlying inflections of the voice that can really bring some of those verses home. There are different subtopics of feminism and those were really brought to light [at the event].”