Legalization of Prostitution (11/30/17) and Bisexuality in Feminism (12/21/17) Meeting Notes! by Eliya Ahmad ’19

Unfortunately, we forgot to take any meeting notes during the meeting about the legalization of prostitution. It was a really interesting discussion though, and a very multi-faceted issue. We looked at an article about the negative side, the affirmative side, and the in between, as well as negative and affirmative for NYC specifically. We encourage you to check it out!

11/7/17 was spent making posters and discussing the upcoming tampon drive, and 11/14/17 was the Diversity Initiative’s round table.

Clem Jacobs ’19 held a great meeting about the intersections of bisexuality and feminism…and we forgot to take notes again! We discussed the sexualization of queer female relationships, both in movies, porn, and everyday life. We compared the assumptions and stereotypes made about bisexual men versus bisexual women, and the different stigmas surrounding each.


Body Image (11/9/17) Meeting Notes! by Eliya Ahmad ’19

This meeting was based on an article titled “5 Reasons to Date a Girl with an Eating Disorder”, and a piece of slam poetry in response. We discussed how the article was a blatant example of the romanticization of eating disorders, but how there are many more subtle examples of this as well in popular media. Many movies and TV shows feature a relationship essentially curing someone of their eating disorder, trivializing eating disorders. This romanticization also comes from within the community — “thinspo” accounts tend to be people with eating disorders romanticizing their disorders. These accounts led us to a discussion of accountability. If people use these accounts as a coping mechanism for themselves, should they be accountable for the detrimental effects on others? We did not come to a conclusion on this, though we agreed that it depends on a variety of factors such as the audience it’s intended for and whether there is any sort of profit.

We also discussed some of the issues with the poem. Though many of the problems with the article were brought up in the poem, it continued to perpetuate the idea that eating disorders were only for skinny, rich, white girls, an idea which can be detrimental to those who do not fit this inaccurate image. Additionally, when refuting the article, the poem made it seem as though its actively awful to date girls with eating disorders; romanticization is dangerous and unhelpful, but so is stigmatization. Though a balance is difficult to achieve, a midpoint between romanticizing and stigmatizing eating disorders is simply bringing awareness to the reality of the issue.

Lastly, we discussed whether a slam poem was the best way to address the initial article. On one hand, art like slam poetry can be more accessible and reach a wider audience than anything else, as well as providing a more emotional response to the issue. On the other hand, art can simplify and dumb down issues, leading to an overall unproductive result.

Reclaiming Sexualization (11/2/17) Meeting Notes! by Eliya Ahmad ’19

In this meeting, we started off by discussing the difference between internal and external validation; internal validation would be doing something because you feel good, and external would be doing it because other people think you look good. People mentioned that sometimes others can misinterpret ones reasoning behind wearing revealing clothes — no one thinks, “okay, this low cut shirt is on and I’m ready to get attention from boys,” and yet sometimes that is what is assumed. However, sometimes it can be difficult to separate the personal from the societal, and one can end up subconsciously doing things for external validation due to internalized beauty standards.

People questioned whether it can be empowering to reclaim sexualization, or whether doing so it feeding into the issue. It can be a power, but you still have no control over how others view you. The poem “What Do Women Want” was brought up in relation to this. We also brought up a Margaret Atwood quote about male fantasies, and discussed how nearly everything is assumed to be done for men.

It was mentioned that it is nearly impossible to escape societal pressures in terms of appearance. Thinking you look good is still conforming to standards of what society think looks “good,” since otherwise we would just be wearing squirrel skin coats for warmth. Essentially, we decided that there is no good option; regardless of how you dress or act or present yourself, you are still affected by societal standards. 

10/26/17 Meeting Recap! by Maya Bashner ’19

In this meeting we discussed a recently viral quote:

“I want any young men who buy a gun to be treated like young women who seek an abortion. Think about it: a mandatory 48-hours waiting period, written permission from a parent or a judge, a note from a doctor proving that he understands what he is about to do, time spent watching a video on individual and mass murders, traveling hundreds of miles at his own expense to the nearest gun shop, and walking through protestors holding photos of loved ones killed by guns, protestor who call him a murderer. After all, it makes more sense to do this for young men seeking guns than for young women seeking an abortion. No young woman needing reproductive freedom has ever murdered a roomful of strangers.”

We began by discussing the flaws in the quote, for example that it doesn’t mention what needs to change for abortion laws, and therefore doesn’t give a clear message about the point of the quote. This led into a discussion about different forms of activism. A point was made about how quotes like these assume the education of a reader, making them inaccessible to a wide audience. This led to a discussion about whether quotes like these over complicate or over simplify the issues at hand. In some ways, when quotes like these circulate the internet, they are continuously simplified to cater to web-users, depleting the original intention of the quote. However, it could also spread to a wider audience given the variety of users that could come across it.

Goals for 2017-2018! by Eliya Ahmad ’19

At last weeks meeting, we discussed our goals for the upcoming year, including both broad overall ideas and more specific ideas for individual meetings and projects.

We want to…

  • have an emphasis on intersectionality
  • collaborate with other clubs
  • get to know each other well
  • bring snacks :)))
  • produce a feminist mini-mag
  • make sure more people know what STAGE is about
  • invite more speakers to come either for meetings or Dean’s Hours
  • organize a feminist conference across high schools
  • increase STAGE’s presence throughout the school
  • create a safe space for anyone
  • have dinners as a club

This list includes some of the main goals we came up with as a club. If anyone has anything they would like to see STAGE do, feel free to contact us!

Interest Meeting (10/5/17) Recap! by Eliya Ahmad ’19

To start things off, we went around and shared why we’re each at the meeting. Common responses included:

  • no another place to discuss these topics
  • prior involvement in the club
  • new leaders
  • previous involvement in feminist movement, wants to continue
  • excited for discussions
  • collab with Diversity Initiative
  • impressed with conversations
  • learning new things

This was followed up by some logistical announcements (Thursdays in room 413), a description of a typical stage meeting (discussions that move from an impersonal to a personal level), and a discussion of last year (see previous blog post).

Next, we talked about why STAGE is Students Taking Action for Gender Equity rather than a feminist club, namely due to the various negative connotations people may have with the label of “feminist.” We opened the floor up for people to share some of their experiences with the word “feminist,” and why they do or do not identify as one. Some of the ideas discussed are listed below.

  • feminist movement is exclusionary
    • white feminism
    • makes it hard to identify with feminist movement
  • feminism vs. intersectional feminism
    • feminism should be synonymous with intersectional feminist
    • shouldn’t have to specify intersectionality, should go without saying
  • activism vs. feminism
    • categorized as “other” group if you believe in feminism or activism
  • word “feminist” is stigmatized—> systematic sexism
    • women’s words are seen as imposing in comparison to a mans
  • equity vs. equality (see cartoon at end of blog post!!!)
  • there’s always more to learn in regards to feminism
    • associations with the word feminist change as more is learned
  • growing up in NYC it’s easier to identify with feminism because so many people are surrounded by others that are outspoken
  • “fear” of feminists
    • “angry woman” stereotype
    • societal portrayal of feminism
  • sexist culture at home creates some hesitance towards feminism
    • forced to be against one’s culture
  • experiencing different aspects of feminism (feminism as a spectrum)
  • history of feminism skews how the definition is viewed now
  • power/ social force associated with feminism can be empowering

Also, check out, a blog about feminism run by Ella (9th)!


Image result for equity vs equality cartoon


Recap of 2016-2017! by Eliya Ahmad ’19

Before we begin a new year of STAGE, we wanted to take a moment to look back over the previous year. Last year was a busy year for STAGE, and while a brief blog post cannot begin to cover everything we did last year, here are some of the highlights.

  • Tampon Drive — Once again, STAGE ran its annual tampon drive in December. Donations of tampons and pads were collected for a few weeks, and then given to a homeless shelter. Tampons and pads are often overlooked when it comes to necessary donations, so tampon drives can be a big help.
  • Now That We’re Men — STAGE went to see Now That We’re Men, a play directed by Katie Capiello at St. Francis College. The play brought an interesting perspective rape culture among teenage boys.
  • Planned Parenthood Fundraiser Concert — STAGE held a concert at BHSEC where many talented students performed. The proceeds of this concert were donated to Planned Parenthood.
  • Planned Parenthood Speaker — A representative from Planned Parenthood led a STAGE meeting, where we discussed the reality of reproductive rights in the current administration, the discrepancy of reproductive rights both nation-wide and globally, the shortcomings of most health education classes, and many other fascinating topics.
  • Women’s Ally Week — STAGE facilitated a town hall discussion during the Diversity Initiative’s first annual Women’s Ally Week.

These are just a few of the many special events we had in STAGE last year, along with weekly discussion-based meetings and various other events. We are all looking forward to another great year with many great things in store!

STAGE’s Women’s History Month Project! by Margaret Linhart ‘17

This past Women’s History Month STAGE launched a project within Bard High School to celebrate the impact of women throughout history and across disciplines. We created a collection of posters and hung them outside of each academic office (math, science, social science, English, and language) as well as the Art room and the PE office. Each poster highlighted several women in their respective academic fields with a brief summary of their influence and life’s work.

Below are excerpts from various women’s descriptions, which were written by STAGE year twos Margaret (Maggie) Linhart, Miranda Leong-Hussey, Julie Seager, and Lily Gordon. Thank you so much to my peers for helping to execute the project! I’d also like to thank our school for supporting the project (specifically Dr. Kennedy and Ms. Powell) and all of the individual faculty members who were very enthusiastic and helpful!

“Frida Kahlo, 1907-1954: Frida Kahlo was a Mexican painter who is known for her vibrant self-portraits. Her paintings often depict Mexican and indigenous culture, her own physical and emotional pain, and her experiences with love. Her work crosses boundaries between surrealism and realism — it is often called surrealist by others but was considered realist by Kahlo herself.”

“Wilma Rudolph, 1940-1994: Wilma Rudolph was an American track star. She was the first American woman to win three gold medals in track and field during a single Olympic Games. Rudolph was named United Press Athlete of the Year 1960 and Associated Press Woman Athlete of the Year for 1960 and 1961. She elevated the role of women of color in athletics and was voted into the National Black Sports and Entertainment Hall of Fame in 1973.”

“Hannah Arendt, 1906-1975: Johanna “Hannah” Arendt was a Jewish- American political theorist and writer. She rejected the label of philosopher, saying that she focused on how “men, not Man, live on the earth and inhabit the world.” Her works include The Origins of Totalitarianism, The Life of the Mind, and Eichmann in Jerusalem. The Hannah Arendt prize is named in her honor.”

“Katherine Johnson, 1918-Present: Katherine Johnson was an African-American physician and mathematician who calculated flight trajectories for many NASA missions, including the first flight of an American into space and the 1969 Apollo 11 flight to the moon. Before working for NASA, Johnson had a natural talent for mathematics and became one of three African-American students chosen to integrate the West Virginia University’s graduate programs. At age 97, she received the Presidential Medal of Freedom.”

“Tulsi Gabbard, 1981-present: Gabbard was the youngest woman ever elected to U.S. state office after being elected to the Hawaii State Legislature at 21 years old. She has served in the U.S. Army National Guard and in 2012 was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives. Gabbard is the first American Somoan and the first and only practicing Hindu to serve in the U.S. Congress.”

STAGE sees The Tempest! by Julie Seager ’18

Last Saturday, STAGE attended an all-female production of The Tempest in Prospect Park. The catch? It was an almost entirely nude production! In the words of the theater company, Torn Out Theater, “the production celebrates body freedom and uses storytelling to normalize the nude female form.” In a society saturated with nude images in ads, TV and porn, we’re accustomed to equating nudity with sex. This production aims to break this connection and present the female body as something more than a sexual object. In this regard, I think the play was successful. The play begins with about twenty minutes of a single woman, completely naked except for her hiking boots, gathering wood around the park. Throughout this part of the play, passersby were leering and occasionally trying to take pictures of the actress. The presence of spectators explicitly sexualizing her was a constant reminder of the difficulty for women to be nude without being treated like an object for the enjoyment of others. But even as the outside watchers dwindled, it took me a while to see the nudity as non-sexual.

I went into the play skeptical. Although I thought it was an interesting and provocative idea, I think too often the centering of “body liberation” as the main frontier of feminism is emblematic of white feminism. I didn’t actually get the impression from the play that the message they were sending was racially exclusive but I still think it’s important to consider some of these different perspectives:


“As I tumbled through, I landed on the same images and topics: body hair growth, sexual liberation, pastel-coloured hair, flowers photoshopped onto women’s bodies—they all seemed to be at the forefront of feminism. Topless protests were the ultimate key to freedom…As I absorbed it all, I began to realize many of these women weren’t just interested in leg hair and periods. They were interested in saving a certain kind of woman: me.

…I’m a Middle Eastern and South Asian Muslim woman of colour who can, apparently, only find liberation through the West. I am part of a misunderstood, over-exotified culture, part of the mystical backwards Orient where women are subservient and trapped.

These ideas are both true and untrue. I am a woman facing oppression, from my own culture and from Western culture. But what saved me and liberated me wasn’t the topless protests of FEMEN, or white feminists in flower crowns, but rather other women of colour, who showed, despite all the ideas put forth by white feminism, that they did not need saving from the West. They had saved themselves.” – Hana Shafi


Another flaw with the body liberation issue is that all women are not subjected to the same body expectations and therefore “liberation” does not look the same for everyone.


“Black feminists seek emancipation from the norms and expectations of typical white women. In a society where the Black female body is appropriated, Black feminists are clamoring to be seen as an everyday type of beauty rather than exotic.” -Georgina Class-Peters


These are just two voices, but I think that it’s important for STAGE as a club to continue to consider what the place of “body liberation” is in the feminist movement. In the past, many of our meetings have dealt with body politics, yet focused more on the pressures of western beauty ideals and how this affects white women. While body politics is a worthy issue to think about in the club, it must be addressed with a variety of perspectives in mind. A conversation about body liberation must take into account all of the ways in which different women are oppressed in this regard (for example through fetishization, hyper-sexualization, desexualization, etc.) We look forward to discussing these issues in the coming year!


More info about The Tempest:

Book Recommendations from STAGE

I asked STAGE members to contribute titles of some of their favorite written works by/for & about feminists/feminism. Here is the compiled list, loosely broken down by genre. Feel free to contact us if you’d like to add your recommendation & enjoy!

**Bard students! Visit the library to check out LGBTQ+ Rainbow Club’s new section of queer works! Contact Lily Gordon (Y2) with questions.

– Miranda Leong-Hussey, ’17


  • Roxanne Gay: Bad Feminist
  • Paula Giddings: When & Where I Enter
  • Maggie Nelson: The Argonauts
  • Catharine McKinnon: Only Words
  • Adrienne Rich: Compulsory Heterosexuality & Lesbian existence
  • bell hooks: Feminism is for Everybody
  • bell hooks: Ain’t I a Woman? Black woman & Feminism 
  • Virginia Woolf: A Room of One’s Own
  • Malala Yousafzai: I am Malala
  • Rebecca Solnit: Men Explain Things to Me
  • Peggy Orenstein: Girls & Sex
  • Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie: We Should all be Feminists
  • Jessica Valenti: Sex Object
  • Simone de Beauvoir: The Second Sex
  • Catherine Beecher and Harriet Beecher Stowe: American Woman’s Home
  • Nancy Cott: The Grounding of Modern Feminism
  • Alison Bechdel: Fun Home

Fiction & short stories:

  • Margaret Atwood: The Handmaid’s Tale
  • Lucia Berlin: A Manual for Cleaning Women
  • Maxine Hong Kingsont: The Woman Warrior
  • Marilyn French: The Women’s Room
  • Toni Morrison: The Bluest Eye


  • Marie Howe: Practicing
  • Leslea Newman: My Lover is a Woman: Contemporary Lesbian Love Poems
  • Maya Angelou: Phenomenal Woman
  • Alice Walker: Democratic Womanism