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Young Women making a difference in Grand Rapids

March 23, 2012

Last night the group Young Women for Change of Kent County hosted a screening of the film Miss Representation on the campus of GRCC.

Miss Representation is a fairly new film that has already been shown in Grand Rapids at least twice in the past 3 months. The film explores how the media’s misrepresentations of women have led to the underrepresentation of women in positions of power and influence.

About 70 people attended the screening and the majority of people stayed after the film to be part of the discussion. The high school students, who are in Young Women for Change, facilitated the discussion and did an amazing job. In fact, this writer was quite impressed with not only their knowledge of the issue, but how confident and articulate they were in addressing the issues raised in the film.

The discussion also raised some important points. Several older women talked about their involvement with the feminist movement in the 1960s and 70s, but also expressed concerns about how there has been a backlash against the gains made by women. Some felt that this backlash was not only a result of reactionary centers of power pushing back against feminism, but that the current generation of young women were not “carrying the torch.”

If the young women who hosted the event last night are any indication of the current generation, then it would seem to this writer that they are quite capable of carrying the message of equality and liberation forward.

Several women also spoke about how difficult it was to move to Grand Rapids and realize that the level of discrimination against women was profound. One woman said this was the case particularly from those who identified as conservative Christians and expressed to these women that their place is in the home. There certainly are strong anti-feminist entities in West Michigan that welcome the male dominant ideology of groups like the Promise Keepers, Focus on the Family and the American Family Association……all of which receive substantial funding from wealthy families in West Michigan.

The Young Women for Change members did say that they will be working on looking at issues of concern over the next several months and then be making funds available for projects that empower women and girls in Kent County. Young Women of Change is a project of the Michigan Women’s Foundation.

One Comment leave one →
  1. Joshua Sadowski permalink
    March 23, 2012 11:03 pm

    Great article, Jeff. Good to hear the young women in the community are “carrying the torch”, as it were.

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