Summer news about UA women

  • Paula Maggio, a visiting lecturer with UA’s Women’s Studies Program, has been awarded a short-term fellowship with the New York Public Library (NYPL).  The NYPL announced the recipients in the July 14 issue of the New York Review of Books (PDF). This opportunity supports scholars from outside New York who need to use the Library’s unique research and special collections. Maggio, one of 25 recipients, will use this fellowship to work on her book, “Bloomsbury at War: Pacifism and the Bloomsbury Group 1914-1945.”
  • Mary Myers, associate professor of criminal justice, was interviewed for a WKSU-FM story on Anthony Sowell, a convicted serial killer. Text and audio are available at .
  • Daughter of Providence, a book by Julie Drew, UA professor of English, was published by Overlook Press and receivedglowing review in the Akron Beacon Journal. The review described the book as a “terrific debut novel.” Drew teaches writing, film and cultural studies at UA.
  • Dr. Susan Olson, chair of the Department of Educational Foundations and Leadership (EFL), has been named associate dean for external programs, grants, budgets and personnel in the College of Education. Olson comes to this position after having served seven years as chair of EFL, one year as interim chair of the Department of Sport Science and Wellness Education, and a four-year term as chair of the Department of Curricular and Instructional Studies. She has been a member of the UA faculty for 22 years.
  • Beginning August 1, Dr. Evonn Welton will assume the role of Associate Dean of Academic Affairs and Student Services in the College of Education. Welton has been with the College of Education since 1996, when she was promoted to the rank of full professor. Her faculty responsibilities have included teaching and research in the area of special education.
  • UA alumnae Jo Ellen Frost and Suzi Hrubik have joined Radcom Inc., a Hudson-based consulting firm. Read the Hudson Hub-Times story.

Vaginas are the unknown — and some people at Polsky want to keep it that way

Editor’s Note: Author Beth Thomason is a student in the fall 2010 Women’s Studies Program Special Topics course, That Chick is Crazy: Women and Madness. She is also a member of Liberation in Progress.

It is no secret that our vaginas must be kept secret. This sort of don’t ask don’t tell policy has been engrained into the minds of women since the onset of puberty.

Sexual/reproductive health education is minimal and vague. We learn the basics, almost enough to keep us from embarrassing ourselves in social situations—but not quite. (I am reminded of a friend who said no one taught her what her clitoris was. At the age of 23 she thought, “Isn’t it where pee comes out?”)

The vagina is seen as a dirty, messy place. It is the unknown—and some people want to keep it that way.

This is the kind of attitude you would expect in an elementary school, maybe even a strict high school. But what about a public university? What about our very own University of Akron?

If you are not familiar with Liberation in Progress, you are probably familiar with their bake sales. If you have ever passed by a seemingly innocent table of baked goods and heard “CHOCOLATE VAGINAS, PENIS COOKIES!”—they are not calling you names; they’re just selling their delicious, anatomically correct treats.

LIP is the feminist/gender equality organization here on campus, and they have more than one reason for not making grandma’s boring peanut butter cookies to fund their organization.

As feminists, their goal is to de-mystify female anatomy that has been put under such scrutiny. With the help of a candy mold, they make these chocolate vaginas to say, “See? That’s not so bad, is it?” What women are told to be ashamed of and keep to themselves, they are putting out there for all to see — on a stick, bagged, sealed, and signed with a kiss.

These little vulvas are about as pornographic as a Ziggy cartoon, so anyone who is offended by their mere existence should question why they feel that way in the first place.

Learning doesn’t happen in comfort zones. Sometimes it’s necessary to challenge the beliefs and views that society has established within us in order to progress our thinking. If we all stuck with the idea that boys/girls have cooties, our species would be—not literally—screwed. The world would be flat, and lobotomies would be the sole cure for headaches.

What I’m getting at is, with all of these good (albeit somewhat obnoxious—but effective!) intentions that LIP has for doing these bake sales, why would someone feel the need to shut one down, ship it to the other side of campus, and forbid it ever to come back to a certain building ever again?

Yes, that’s right—LIP was kicked out of Polsky for selling chocolate vaginas. Not only are the said baked goods prohibited from the building—any type of sexual/reproductive health information is not allowed to be displayed for the following reasons:

  1. “There are high school students that come into the building.” Sorry, I was under the impression that teenage pregnancy rates were pretty high…but I guess we should keep teaching abstinence-only sex education, keep our fingers crossed, and hope for the best—right?
  2. Vaginas are obscene, disgusting, and offensive. That’s according to the WOMAN who kicked LIP’s bake sale off the premises. Yes. A woman said vaginas are offensive. Way to perpetuate society’s negatively stigmatized gender stereotypes.

I don’t know about you, but all this rage makes me hungry for a chocolate vagina and some social progress!

To find out more about LIP’s fight against censorship on campus, I encourage you all to attend one (or all) of their meetings/events. Check out their Facebook page for more information.

Summit College bans student feminist group’s bake sale

Vulva Pop that is part of Liberation in Progress’s bake sale to raise funds to help prevent violence against women

Liberation in Progress, the University of Akron’s student feminist group, has been banned from holding its bake sales in the Polsky Building.

The offense? Selling chocolate candy in the shape of a woman’s vulva.

When the group set up shop on Wednesday, a member of the administrative staff at the Polsky Building told LIP members that their candy products were “disgusting, obscene and inappropriate,” according to LIP President Lindsay Newton. Then they were told to pack up their products and leave. 

Later, LIP leaders were told they needed to obtain special permission from the dean of Summit College for their table promoting safe sex, permission they would get ONLY if the group assured administrators no graphic material would be part of the display.

The group also sold its products in Olin Hall without incident.

The bake sale was part of LIP’s No Woman Left Behind campaign, which asks supporters to pledge “to acknowledge that consent [to sex] cannot be given when intoxicated” and “to intervene if a woman is being taken advantage of at a bar, party or club . . . to assist any woman in need.”

LIP leaders took immediate action in protest of the Polsky ban.  They started circulating a petition, formed a STOP CENSORSHIP committee  and contacted editors at UA’s student newspaper, The Buchtelite.

As the group’s Facebook page noted, “Liberation In Progress exists to FIGHT against this kind of small minded discrimination! We are not going to sit quietly and allow this section of OUR campus to ban safe sex and positive body image awareness!

“Vulvas are NOT vulgar, disgusting, obscene or offensive! They are a part of the body, just like the face and toe nail! Keep in mind we are not displaying pornography, we are not displaying graphic images of REAL vaginas, we are selling chocolate that has been set in a mold that vaguely resembles a vulva.”

Anyone who would like to join with LIP in protesting the censorship can contact the organization at or visit the group’s Facebook page.

Student moms have a voice online

Moms who are also students can share stories, tips and resources through a new blog set up by members of the new University of Akron student organization Mothers Achieving More Academically (MAMA).

You can read more about the group in the Sept. 3 issue of the Buchtelite, the University of Akron’s student newspaper.

For more information about MAMA, contact Patricia Millhoff, director of Women’s Studies, at 330-972-7008 or at

Welcome to a blog of our own

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Welcome to A Blog of Our Own, a blog for the Women’s Studies Program at The University of Akron.

The courses currently covered in this blog are:

Students in these courses will find course syllabi and other downloadable resources on this blog. Course updates and links to valuable online resources will be added throughout the semester, so check back regularly.

Your comments about the blog, the issues it covers, and the courses it represents are welcome and encouraged. Please add your thoughts by clicking on the Comments link below.