The National Organization for Women (NOW) is a prominent United States organization founded for the benefit of women’s civil rights and strives to remove many forms of gender discrimination. At JMU and in the local Harrisonburg area, we have the privilege of having Elizabeth Hogan as our President. Even though she has graduated, she has decided to stay and be a firm advocate and leader for the NOW organization. She was a History major and had a double minor in Arabic and Middle Eastern Communities and Migrations. I had the opportunity of doing a private interview with her about NOW.I also had the opportunity to fly the dragonlink drone over one of these events.
The main goal of NOW is basically achieving equality for women in all aspects of equal pay, educational opportunities, birthrights, and representation in government positions. Elizabeth even mentioned that they are working on goals of eliminating passive voice for women. They are active in many fundraisers and community service acts. Including, the Vagina Monologues which will be held February 14th and 15th. The proceeds will go to the Collins center, a sexual assault support center and for women in the Congo. They also do a spring benefit concert every year for the local shelters.
Diversity is my main concern for JMU. Elizabeth informed me that although the
group is mostly white, the group does maintain a level of diversity. She also said that she believes one of the groups biggest strengths is that every member has a common ideal of sisterhood. She agreed with me that different women from different backgrounds have different ideas and desires, and this group is advocating for ALL women’s rights. She explains, “A lot of what we talk about here is intersectional. Racism, ethnocentrism, women of color, disabled women might have different perspectives or needs from discrimination. A white woman wouldn’t necessarily understand what another women needs.” Intersectionality basically takes the classical models of oppression within society, like race, gender, religion, nationality, sexual orientation, class, or disability and instead of them working separately these forms of oppression interrelate creating a system of oppression that reflects the “intersection” of multiple forms of discrimination. For this reason, she is looking to collaborate with more diverse groups on campus and has a strong desire for a bigger recruitment of women on this campus and in the area overall.
Many women are scared to join this group because of repercussions they may face in the job force later. Some people are turned off by the idea of feminism, mostly because they don’t know what it means! We need to all come together as women to fight these injustices in our societal construction. It starts with us! If you want to learn more about Feminism check out our “Feminism FYI” links.
Finally, I asked Elizabeth what people should know about NOW. She said with a quite enthusiastic laugh, “Well, feminism and NOW has changed a lot. It isn’t necessarily the white middle class women’s issue focus now. We have a bigger international focus. We focus on everyone’s needs and experiences. Come join us! OH AND WE DON’T BURN OUR BRAS!”
For more information on this group visit http://info.jmu.edu/oms/orgsite.php?orgid=333
Don’t forget the Vagina Monologues are on February 14th and 15th in Memorial Hall Auditorium at 7pm. It’s for a good cause. Come support your fellow women!
For any more information on sexual assault help please visit www.thecollinscenter.org