Heather Hewett @hahewett ?active 1 year, 12 months ago
Great questions!! To the ones you raise I would add this one: how does the increasing gap between have and have-not academic institutions complicate these important questions you raise about the relationship of academic and public feminists? (Full disclosure: my small state campus brought Courtney to speak at a women’s studies conference several years ago, and she was awesome!) Yet the state university system I’m in has seen a decrease of 30% in our state funding over the past 3 years. Even before that reduction, more often than not, we did not have the ability to pay speakers what they asked. Identifying and contacting speakers is a fraught and frequently shame-filled process involving asking someone to reduce her/his rates and to wait long months for the check because of endless bureaucracy. With dwindling state funding, it is also an increasingly competitive process, meaning that Women’s Studies programs (many of which are not fully autonomous) must compete with bigger departments for a tiny pot of money. We want to support outside speakers and activists, many of whom send their materials to us daily, and we want to pay awesome women like Courtney what they’re worth—and yet our ability to do the little we have been able to do is plummeting. Given that most students in our country are at schools like mine, and not private colleges, this really raises some difficult questions about the multiple effects of the increasing gap between private and public institutions. Speakers like Courtney model for our students the many possibilities of feminist activism they might not be exposed to otherwise. What if they never got that chance? How can we bring speakers to campus if we have no money? And what does it do to everyone’s self-empowerment if we must continually present ourselves as a charity case to speaker-activists who are also trying to make a living?