Artemis Society Reacts To “Feminism Wall”

The Artemis Society — which calls itself “a feminist organization that aims to empower women, and encourage and teach gender equity to Westport’s future generations” — took note of yesterday’s “06880” post about reactions to a project undertaken by Staples High School’s Women in History class.

In response to the students’ open letter to the school community, Artemis posted its own open letter to the class:

We are the Artemis Society. We are your mothers, your sisters, your parents’ friends. We are the women you see every day. We will not go back.

We will not stay silent while any person attempts to silence the voices, or impede the rights of trans or cisgendered women, or their allies. We believe in intersectional gender, religious, sexual, and racial equality. We aim to bring awareness to our children, and to educate them through peaceful activism and protest. For your future. For these reasons, we are compelled to state the following in response to the sexist, degrading and misogynistic response to the “Feminism Wall” in the Staples cafeteria.

The Artemis Society posted its own message to Staples’ Women in History class, outside the cafeteria.

To the “Women in History” students and those students who made and contributed to the Feminism Wall: You are courageous. Social progress is often the natural consequence of struggle and discomfort. Don’t be afraid, and don’t back down.

Gender inequality is real. Congress is comprised of 83 congresswomen out of 435 representatives, and 21 women out of 100 senators. Women earn 23 cents less for every dollar earned by a man who has the same job. Women who work in the household earn $175,000 per year in imputed income, which is neither recognized nor valued by the majority of society.

This is insufficient. Shout it from the rooftops. You have the power to change this, and you have already begun to do so. Your “Feminism Wall” will eventually help dismantle the institutional walls of sexism in Westport, and wherever your voice takes you.

It has already started a townwide conversation. Be proud. Speak up for more marginalized groups who do not share some of your privilege.

And despite the common misperception that it must have been girls who made this wall, Artemis acknowledges there are strong male feminist allies who may have contributed as well. Your wall was defamed with vile comments, defaced, and sexualized. You have them on the run. Go get ’em!

Westport is filled with dynamic, intelligent and educated women. Don’t buy into the sitcom stereotype, because underneath our white jeans and our yoga clothes, we wear armor! We are your sisters, and we stand beside you.

The “Feminism Wall,” Phase 3.

To the students who defaced the Feminism Wall: You proved sexism exists at Staples.

There is still time to learn and change. Don’t be afraid. Be better. Ask yourself why this wall made you so uncomfortable. Was it fear? Was it social pressure? Do you truly believe the things you wrote?

To the boy who wrote the girls in his engineering class are not his equals: You are correct. They are your superiors. But you can be equals if you conquer your bias and insecurity.

When we tell young feminists to fight, it is not to fight against you; they must fight for themselves. You must fight to learn for yourselves.

To the students who sexualized the wall by simulating body fluid with moisturizer: Women and girls are not objects for the benefit of your gaze or pleasure. We vow to remind our daughters they will not be subjugated or intimidated by such acts. Feminism is not a dirty word.

Some of the earlier Post-Its on the Feminism Wall.

Some of you wrote that feminism is “retarded” and “gay” and “autistic” and “cancer.” There is nothing bad about being delayed, gay, autistic, and seriously  — cancer?

These are your peers. These are your equals. Respect them! If feminism is a waste of paper, you would not have wasted the paper to say so.

Our young women of Westport will “go back to the kitchen,” for a lovely meal you prepared to congratulate them on earning that promotion, winning that election, and shattering that glass ceiling.

Finally: If you are a parent or guardian, talk to your children about the importance of social equality. The Westport schools should absolutely teach gender equality and gender studies at every age level, in age-appropriate ways. The Westport schools vow to teach emotional and social awareness; kindness with sincerity; principled thoughts and actions, and a love of learning.

Let’s do this!

15 responses to “Artemis Society Reacts To “Feminism Wall”

  1. John F. Suggs

    Wow! I will be sharing this strong clarion call for full equality and respect to my 14 year old daughter AND my 14 year old son this evening! Thank you for putting into such powerful words what I and so many others believe. Be strong Staple women students and your allies. To paraphrase William Lloyd Garrison: “We shall be heard!”

  2. Gerald F. Romano, Jr.

    June 13, 2017
    Dear Artemis Society,
    I was looking at all the sticky notes and large notes with all the feelings and sayings of The Artemis Society
    What I did not see (if it’s there please point it out) is any persons name signed to any of these notes
    When I write a note or comment (like now) I usually put the date at the top and sign it at the bottom
    Sincerely,
    Gerald F. Romano, Jr.

  3. Thanks for posting, Dan … As if my stomach doesn’t churn enough from insane National goings-on, to learn about this heart-breaking hate graffiti right here in my hometown school … sigh! 😦

    And as moronic as these little moppets are, I suspect we have their parents to thank … And of course they’re the same jerks triple parking at Trader J’s … SIGH!! :-((

    Either way, I’m glad our Library just embraced a visit from a wonderful, pro-Feminism celeb — Alan Alda … To paraphrase a brilliant line from MASH, when the lads are asked if they intend to change the whole world, they reply: “No, just our little corner of it” … Let’s do likewise!!

  4. Approximately 18 years ago, our daughter was a student at Staples (class of 1999). She and several classmates started the Women’s Issues Group (WIG), an after school club. They too received all kinds of sexist flack. But the persevered. I am saddened that such hateful comments were posted on the bulletin boards at Staples. What an eye opener. In Westport, a supposedly educated and progressive community. It just goes to show me that there is much work to do still. Alan Alda’s new book, “If I Understood You, Would I Have This Look on My Face?” should be required reading for all students.

  5. My daughter was at Dartmouth in 2008 working on a degree in engineering. On a group project, when she came up with a good solution to a problem, another member of the team — a guy — said, incredulously, “Wow, you’re relly smart!”

    Did he think she got there because she is adorable?*

    * She is.

    • Nancy Hunter

      The best time at college is spent around the cafeteria tables, when you can ask honest questions: Why do the engineering students not have to take an English class? How do the Arts students get away without a science credit?

      Most schools today — most kids today — have an appreciation of the idea of “University” and so require, demand, an equal balance on all fronts.

      I hope your daughter is enjoying her engineering career.

  6. I was watching some of the news coverage of the Ariana Grande concert, and all these ecstatic, together, bonded, empowered/empowering Manchester girls of this tween generation were just amazing. I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything like it.

    Saw it in something else recently too, forget what; but this just may be the most ground-shaking generation (and gender(!)) since the 60s. (Oh, yeah, it was the audiences, moms and daughters, at the Wonder Woman movie(!)) And, now that I think of it, the mom/daughter pairs at the Million Woman March too–among whom were Luise’s daughter and 13-year-old granddaughter.

  7. oh, wait, wait, forgot my all time favorite Westport remark:

    My girlfriend’s daughter got into Harvard a few years ago. Her neighbor congradulated her.

    She said, “Your husband must be really smart!!!”

    • Haha! However maddening, I can’t help but laugh when reading this. This resonates strongly with me, Stephanie. Upon my marriage, countless men and women who noted how “lucky I [was] to get such a smart husband” didn’t consider I was equally accomplished and smart.
      Countless men and women alike, cannot solve the following riddle: A father and son are in a tragic car accident. The father dies on impact. The son is taken to hospital for emergency surgery. The surgeon enters the room and states, “I cannot operate on this boy. He is my son!” How is this possible?

      The answer . . . The surgeon is his mother.

  8. Holly Wheeler

    Just WOW !!!!

  9. Children’s attitudes are largely formed by what is said and accepted as gospel around the dinner table. Churches and synagogues — if they are attended and teaching tolerance — also contribute to the mix.

    But I firmly believe mean girls and jerky guys have crappy parents.

  10. Dan – can you get us contact info for the Artemis Society? Would very much like to get involved with them!