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UAA celebrates Womxn's History Month

by Joe Selmont and Jenn Booz  |   

Graphic for UAA's celebration of Womxn's History Month
Left: Elizabeth Peratrovich, Alaska civil rights activist, member of the Tlingit Nation. Center left: Holly Nordlum, Iñupiaq (Inuit) artist and activist, UAA B.F.A. Art '04. Center right: Amelia Earhart, aviator, first female to fly solo across the Atlantic. Right: Kaasan Braendel, aviation mechanic, UAA C.T.2 Aviation Maintenance - Airframe '18, Powerplant '19. 

The first day of March signaled the beginning of Womxn’s History Month, and the UAA community will celebrate and honor the history of women through a wide array of events.

The YouAA Committee — the group of UAA students, staff and faculty who are responsible for planning or promoting many of the events for heritage and history months — kicked off Womxn’s History Month with a livestream of the documentary 9 to 5: The Story of a Movement and a virtual concert with pop duo Maddie + Tae. But the month is just getting started.   

“There are so many great opportunities for members of the UAA community to celebrate Womxn’s History Month and learn more about the far-reaching impact of women,” said Kim Morton, who sits on the YouAA Committee and is the executive director of Student Engagement and Inclusion.

The events explore a variety of topics, including the activism of a Native American mother-daughter duo, the impartiality of Alaska’s judges and the prevalence of victim blaming. And there are other events that celebrate femininity and feminism through artistic works and entertainment.

Morton said, “We hope that UAA community members will know more about the legacy of women and the issues that women face on March 31 than they did on March 1. It was important to recognize and celebrate that women have created history in many ways, and that the history of women is understood in its full context.”

This is why the YouAA Committee has used the word womxn in place of the traditional spelling when referencing the month. The word first sprang into use in 2010, when it was coined by intersectional and feminist thinkers, and was added to many dictionaries in 2019. The “x” is intended to acknowledge and welcome all individuals who identify as women, including non-binary and trans women.

Morton said, “We want to ensure that all our programs are open to everybody. We want every student to feel comfortable and safe.”

The history of Womxn’s History Month

Womxn’s History Month celebrates the unique contributions of womxn to American history. Womxn’s History Month started as a week of celebration by a school district in California in 1978. The event grew until lobbyists convinced President Carter to declare a national week of celebration in 1980. In 1987, Congress declared March Womxn’s History Month.

Some major contributors to Womxn’s history include Susan B. Anthony, Sojourner Truth, Rosa Parks, Gloria Steinem, bell hooks and many others. Check out this historical timeline from the History Channel to learn more about American women leaders throughout the decades. Alaska has also been a contributor to women’s history through the work of many indigenous women trailblazers, such as Agnes Brown, Katie John, Elizabeth Peratrovich, Alberta Schneck Adams and Clara Swan. 

The Anchorage Museum is currently exhibiting Extra Tough: Women of the North. Through this exhibit, you can learn more about the everyday ways in which Alaskan women, particularly Alaska Native women, shape the history of the state and the Arctic region.

Upcoming Womxn’s History Month events

March 16 | 5:30 p.m. | Warrior Women: Film and Discussion

The film Warrior Women tells the story of Madonna and Marcy Thunder Hawk, a mother-daughter duo who fought for the fair and equal treatment of Indigenous peoples. The film will be followed by a discussion.

March 19 | 6 p.m. | Beat the Blame Game

This event will be a candid conversation about the deeply rooted need for many individuals to blame the victims of sexual harassment and assault. The false logic of victim blaming must be dismantled for the good of our society.

March 20 | 7 p.m. | UAA at the Movies: Promising Young Woman

Promising Young Woman is a newly released thriller centered on Cassie, a wickedly smart and tantalizingly cunning young woman who leads a secret double life by night. The film is rated R.

March 30 | 7 p.m. | "Fair and Impartial Judges in Alaska" with Judge Elaine Andrews

The UAA Women’s Studies Program presents its annual Women’s Legacy Lecture. This year will feature Elaine Andrews, who served an Alaska judge from 1981 to 2002 and now serves as the chair of the Standing Committee on Fair and Impartial Courts for the Alaska Bar Association.  

All month |Women’s History Month Guide by the UAA/APU Consortium Library

All month | Diva-Off

All month | Social Media Trivia: Follow UAALife for weekly trivia

More programs may be announced. See the full lineup at www.uaa.alaska.edu/youaa.  

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