THE GENDER EQUALITY SOCIETY of the University of Exeter has changed its name to Feminist Society. The decision was taken by a society vote and was passed by the Students’ Guild Societies Officer shortly thereafter.
Lucy Whitaker, President of Feminist Society, explained the reasons and process for the name change: “There are a couple of reasons we wanted to change the name. One is that no one in the society shies away from the word ‘feminism’ but our society name suggested otherwise. In fact, many people both in and out of the society criticised the name ‘Gender Equality’ for this reason. In descriptions of the society I have always referred to it as a feminist society so it made sense to change our name so that we did not have to explain that we were in fact feminists and proud to be so despite not being called Feminist Society. We’ve occasionally been met with hostility for changing the name but we took a vote as a society and an overwhelming majority were passionate about changing the name so we stand by our decision.
“The terms ‘Gender Equality’ and ‘Feminism’ should be interchangeable but the fact that we had to have this discussion proves that they are not. This could be because of hostility or fear of the word feminism or simply people not understanding that feminism is anything above equality for the genders. The fact that the York Feminist Society couldn’t get ratified by their union shows that fear of feminism, or at least the term feminism, still exists. The fact that we will be taking on the name shows our desire to educate people on what the term actually means, our pride to identify with the feminist movement and our solidarity with other feminists who may be experiencing hostility over their use of the word”.
Jak Curtis-Rendall, VP Participation and Campuses, toldExeposé: “Feminist Society chose to change its name to reflect the important principles and activities it has held since it was first affiliated. This name change brings the society into line with those nationally, and the change was unanimously approved by the Societies Executive”.
Megan Furborough, a third year English student, said: “It’s really encouraging to see that ‘Feminist’ is being celebrated by the society. Feminism is not a dirty word, and in order to achieve and improve rights for women, the first thing we need to do is more fully embrace and use the term”.