Violence Against Women Symposium

The Violence Against Women course, taught by Professor Gabriela Torres, ran a symposium for the week of April 15. The symposium worked to encourage activism for the class’s topic, involving ideas from class readings that focused on the theme “The Personal is Political.”

“We chose this theme because it is a familiar phrase that underlines what we have been learning about: the intimacies of women’s lives in conjunction with the politics of states and other institutions,” said Caroline Dyhrberg ’19, one of the co-managers of the symposium.

The Clothesline Project. Photo by Caroline Chaffiotte.

On April 15, in the Balfour Atrium, the class held a tabling event with various interactive tables. The tables included were art therapy, positive affirmations, the reveal of the clothing project and comprehensive resources for students. Also included was a collaboration with ECCO house, with grounding activities through the five senses and statistics with SHAG. March 15, also marked the start of an event called ‘Heal Here,’ which was in Chase all week and included prompts and other items students can either fill out or grab to go, to continue their healing process.

On April 16, there was a table in Balfour with ‘Calming Crafts,’ a collaboration with the SMART office which worked off the concept of dealing with trauma through expression in art. In the Marshall Centre, there was a facilitated dialogue to exchange stories of feminism in the Global South, titled ‘Global South Feminisms.’ Participants exchanged stories of lived experience, connecting the personal to political. Educational and narrative-based, this dialogue aimed to build bridges between individuals of different feminist thought, highlighting the often overlooked stories of Global South feminism. Despite different histories, violence against women permeates culture and the construction of personhood. This dialogue acknowledged stories of Global South resilience, solidarity, and hope, with the dream of opening avenues for advocacy.

On April 17, in the New Yellow Parlor, there was a Masculinity Workshop, a continuation of the masculinity panel discussion run by QTPOC on April 8. Coach Barrett from the athletics department facilitated the workshop. In collaboration with ECCO house, there was a walk through the Wheaton Woods, an extension of the tabling event in Balfour on April 15.

On April 18, FAW helped to put on the Survivor’s Walk in Balfour, with an invited keynote speaker, Strong Oak. Strong Oak had previously visited the class to discuss healing of the body from sexual violence. This event also featured art installations created by students in the class. On the same day, SHAG worked with the class to hold “Take Back the Night” in the Lyon’s Den, an annual event that works to create a safe and intimate space for survivors to express themselves.

The final event of the symposium was ‘Healing Through the Performing Arts,’ which featured student dance groups, singers, and poets working together to share performances based around the theme of sexual violence and healing

“This symposium is an important culmination to our studies because it brings these issues and experiences from within the class to the entire community,” said Isabel Eggleston ’21, who is taking Professor Torres’ class. “Theory and research are essential because they help address important questions such as: “how is violence against women understood? and what do we do about this violence?” Activism works towards solving the problem. This symposium is one thing we can do to begin that process of education at Wheaton.”