Making History: State University Bumps Beloved Suffragette for 'Feminist, Queer and Transgender' Center

(AP Photo/Frank Augstein)

America is evolving.

History is, too.

Old antiquity’s being erased as a more relevant record’s put in place.

Case in point: A Change.org petition attempts to remove a statue of Christopher Columbus, who’s “not a figure to be celebrated.”

The recommended replacement: a monument to Marsha P. Johnson, a transgender pioneer who died under suspicious circumstances.

For further example, look to an eastern Ivy League institution.

At the University of Pennsylvania, they’re replacing the fight for women’s suffrage — at least in name.

There once stood the Alice Paul Center, which called to a noted suffragette.

However, as explained by English and comparative literature Professor Melissa Sanchez, Alice was part of a “limited vision of what women’s studies was.”

The teacher made such clear to Penn Today.

Since the Center’s home to U of P’s gender studies department, the school’s signaling to something broader.

From the About section of the Center for Research in Feminist, Queer, and Transgender Studies — otherwise known as the FQT Center:

Since its founding, [Gender, Sexuality, and Women’s Studies (GSWS)] has become a major educational presence on campus offering numerous courses at both the undergraduate and graduate levels; an undergraduate major, minor, and honors program; and a graduate certificate open to all students earning advanced degrees at Penn. The FQT Center has similarly sought to cultivate a scholarly community that affirms and welcomes speakers, fellows, artists, activists, students, and intellectuals of all genders, sexualities, races, ethnicities, religions, abilities, nationalities, and socio-economic and documentation statuses.

UPenn had work to do:

Realizing that the name of the research Center had not kept up with this intersectional and collective spirit—and in fact ran counter to it—in Spring 2021, the Executive Board voted to rename it…

“[A]ny (singular) proper name,” the college claims, “would inevitably prioritize some identities and struggles over others, even as it would perpetuate a patriarchal elevation of the individual, charismatic leader over the many less celebrated persons working for change.”

We wanted instead to accentuate the collective work of both scholarly endeavors and social justice movements, both now and in the past.

As for the original namesake, here’s more from the Alice Paul Institute:

Alice Paul was the architect of some of the most outstanding political achievements on behalf of women in the 20th century. … [A]lice Paul dedicated her life to the single cause of securing equal rights for all. A leader in the fight to ratify the 19th Amendment in 1920 to extend voting rights to women, Alice Paul authored the Equal Rights Amendment 1923 and spent the rest of her life fighting for its ratification to ensure the U.S. Constitution protects women and men equally.

But that was then.

After all, the word “woman” itself has changed. Apply the sensibilities of 2021 to the early 20th century, and a biological male announcing he’s non-binary would lose their/xyrs/vis right to vote.

Furthermore, any biological female proclaiming herself a man would be instantly afforded lever-pulling privileges.

It’s an ever-changing world:

Campus Reform asked Professor Melissa whether updating the Center’s name takes a side in the feminism vs. transgenderism debate concerning women’s rights.

She replied thusly:

“[The Center for Research in Feminist, Queer, and Transgender Studies] and [Gender, Sexuality, and Women’s Studies] emphatically believe that the existence of trans, nonbinary, and gender nonconforming persons is not, and never has been, up for debate. To treat this existence — and the human rights and dignity that it confers — as a question with two sides is to perpetuate the violence of transphobia and transmisogyny. The FQTC/GSWS community includes persons of all genders, and we affirm the human rights and dignity of all women and persons of all genders.”

Beyond that, the instructor told CR she was “unable to accept the terms in which” they posed the question.

To be clear:

“The new name of our Center is meant to signal this feminist commitment to solidarity and inclusiveness.”

Will inclusiveness continue to expand?

Without limit, the effect will be an end to all specificity.

On that day, the Center for Research in Feminist, Queer, and Transgender Studies will just be The Center.

So will every center in the world.

But I doubt they’ll let it go that far.

Even our inclusive betters, I would bet, draw a line.

Unfortunately for Alice Paul, that line precludes her.

And if you still doubt history’s being replaced, consider the time capsule which recently supplanted a statue of Robert E. Lee:

-ALEX

 

See more pieces from me:

Science Journal Blasts Star Wars for Othering, ‘Orientalism’ and White Saviorism

Revolt in Ship Shape: School District Cancels a Columbus Vessel Cartoon, but Is It in Vain?

Dr. No Means No: New James Bond Director Accuses Sean Connery’s 007 of Rape

Find all my RedState work here.

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