“From every quarter have I heard exclamations against masculine women… If it be against the imitation of manly virtues, or, more properly speaking the attainment of those talents and virtues, the exercise of which ennobles the human character, and which raise females in the scale of animal being, when they are comprehensively termed mankind; –all those who view them with a philosophic eye must, wish with me, that they may everyday grow more and more masculine.” –Mary Wollstonecraft, A Vindication of the Rights of Women, 1792
The Rights of Women was the first published feminist literature, written by Mary Wollstonecraft in 1792, and is available in the Rare Books collection in the Archives. Since it was published, the feminist movement in the United States has worked feverishly to secure equal rights, protection, and opportunities for all women and people. This year, Women for Women International (WfWI) celebrated the 100th anniversary of International Women’s Day (March 8th). Thousands of women joined together on bridges around the world to promote the message “Stronger women build bridges of peace” to help raise awareness and gain support for helping women in war-torn areas. WfWI works to provide these women with access to knowledge and resources to enable self-sufficiency and independence.
BGSU’s student chapter of Women for Women was founded in the early 1970’s in response to increasing accounts of rape, gang rape, and assault on campus and to fill the need for a continuous support system for the victims. Although disbanded in the mid-1990’s, throughout its existence, Women for Women sponsored countless concerts, seminars, and other programs to raise awareness and education on women’s issues. In addition to women’s rights, Women for Women helped to co-sponsor LAGA (Lesbian and Gay Alliance) events, had a variety of concentrations such as Women Against Racism and Women Against Nuclear War, and worked with local NARAL (National Abortion Rights Action League) advocates to help ensure Roe v. Wade was not overturned.
Women for Women also held demonstrations outside the Wood County Court House during trials of assault and battery, in solidarity with the victims and to encourage more women to take action against their assailants. Additionally, they petitioned the courts on the sentencing of these cases, encouraging the idea that fines be put toward opening a women’s shelter in Bowling Green or requiring the perpetrators to volunteer at existing shelters. Beyond that, Women for Women held a variety of fundraisers and publicized the need for a shelter in Wood County beginning in the mid-1980’s. Largely due to the initial support and awareness BGSU’s Women for Women raised, the Cocoon Shelter was founded in Wood County in 2005.
Women for Women also played a role in founding the Women’s Center which opened in 1998 and is still active on campus today. Similar to the offerings by Women for Women in the 1970s and 1980s, the Women’s Center also offers a variety of events and programs, such as the Brown Bag series and the Women’s Professional Development series. In 2002, the Center also established the Northwest Ohio Silent Witness Project which is a memorial to honor women who were killed by domestic violence and works to promote awareness on the extent of domestic violence in the area.
To learn more about the Libraries’ rare book holdings, view http://www.bgsu.edu/colleges/library/cac/bib/page39452.html
To learn more about Women’s Studies manuscript collections at the CAC, visit:
To learn more about the history of Women for Women and the Women’s Center, view
For more information about BGSU’s Women’s Center, current events, and programs visit:
For volunteer opportunities and more information on the Cocoon Shelter visit:
To get involved in Women for Women International:
“The civilized women of the present century, with a few exceptions, are only anxious to inspire love, when they ought to cherish a nobler ambition, and by their abilities and virtues exact respect.” -Mary Wollstonecraft, A Vindication of the Rights of Women, 1792
–Sarah Gluckin, Student Archival Assistant