Cal Poly Women’s and Gender Studies at the SLO Public Library
by Rachel Fernflores
For several months I have been working with Kristine Tardiff, manager of the SLO Public Library, on the Cal Poly Women’s and Gender Studies (‘WGS’) lecture series at the San Luis Obispo Public Library. In working together, we have learned that we share a commitment to expand and enhance adult educational opportunities in the county.
In addition, we both believe deeply that the best approach to thinking, learning and engaging in debate is one that does not shy away from controversial ideas. And, we agree that among the most controversial ideas worthy of discussion in the public forum are those that come from feminist insight and scholarship. Thus, in our lecture series we are showcasing five of Cal Poly’s most experienced and knowledgeable feminists.
On January 6, a crowd of over fifty people heard Dr. Jean Williams present ideas from her recent book, The Politics of Virginity: Abstinence in Sex Education. Without any intended hyperbole, I thought I felt a collective cathartic release from the audience as we listened to Dr. Williams critique the politics and ideology of abstinence only sex education from a feminist perspective. The discussion was respectful, engaging, and enlightening. It was great.
As we work our way through the rest of the series, there are equally interesting lectures to which we look forward. Dr. Judy Saltzman-Saveker discussed in March feminists that have been critical of male dominance in religion.
On Tuesday, April 7, Dr. Camille O’Bryant will give a presentation about Title IX in which she will address issues pertaining to sex discrimination in sport. And finally, on May 5, Dr. Jean Wetzel will talk about the role that the courtesans played in Classical and Renaissance art, as well as in the art of the Ming-dynasty.
As employees of county and state institutions, Kristine at the library and myself at Cal Poly, feel the pinch of cutbacks to education and learning. The library needs more resources. In WGS, we need more resources. And at the same time, Kristine and I think that now is the time to be as industrious as possible in using what we do have.
She’s got a library full of people interested in debate, ideas, and learning. I’ve got a department full of feminist scholars with expertise and ideas they want to bring to the rigor of public debate. And so a lecture series is born!
Please come to the talks, the first Tuesday of every month, in the Community Room at the SLO Public Library, 995 Palm Street, 6 to 8 p.m.. There is no charge, everyone is welcome, and refreshments will be served courtesy of Friends of the Library. Visit the Cal Poly WGS web site for more details: http://www.cla.calpoly.edu/wgs/
Rachel Fernflores is a professor within the Cal Poly Women’s and Gender Studies Department