Photo exhibition showing student support for feminism on view in Woodruff Library

Published 10-21-2012

Student Zachary Kelly explains why feminism is important to him.

A photo exhibition titled “Who Needs Feminism?” opens Nov. 2 in the ECIT Gallery on Level 2 of Emory University’s Robert W. Woodruff Library. Created in partnership with Feminists in Action (FIA), a student group dedicated to promoting discussion of gender issues, and Emory’s Center for Women, the exhibition consists of 23 photographs that explore the importance of feminism to both young men and women within the Emory community.

“This project responds to those who say that feminism is no longer relevant or necessary in our world,” says Lindsay Falkenberg, sophomore at Emory University and president of FIA. “For me, it’s a way of challenging the idea that feminism benefits only a very select group of people, or even that it only benefits women. Because at the core, it really is about equality and respect for everyone.”

The project was originally inspired by the official “Who Needs Feminism?” movement begun by Duke University students. To foster conversation and awareness, participants submitted to the website photographs of themselves holding signs stating why they feel feminism is necessary.

The overwhelming amount of both positive and negative response to the campaign generated a flurry of discussion and inspired people to take action in a variety of ways.

After seeing the discussion sparked by the movement, Falkenberg set up an opportunity for those on the Emory campus to engage in similar dialogue. Students were photographed at the FIA table on Sept. 19 with messages that they personalized starting with “I Need Feminism because . . .”

“People were insightful, funny, brave, and honest,” Falkenberg says. The signs were posted around campus, but not everyone appreciated the campaign’s message. “Some signs were defaced with snide comments or torn down entirely,” she says.

“The response to the project reminds us of how controversial the idea of gender equality still is,” said Dona Yarbrough, associate vice provost and director of the Center for Women at Emory. “The fact that the participants are primarily in their teens and 20s is heartening to those of us who are looking to the next generation to continue the work.”

As a space for discovery and the intellectual hub of the campus, Woodruff Library provides an ideal location for students to ponder these perspectives. Previous exhibitions in the ECIT gallery include “BANNED,” which celebrated the freedom to read books considered by some to be controversial, and “AFTER: Images from Haiti,” which featured post-earthquake photos by Emory staff photographer Bryan Meltz.

“My goal is to keep the focus of exhibitions in the ECIT gallery on photography and narrative storytelling through images, and this display is in keeping with that,” says Julie Delliquanti, manager of library exhibitions. “It’s an important project to provide visibility for, especially during this presidential campaign given the ongoing debate around gender equity and women's issues.”

Additional photographs can be viewed online on the Emory Center for Women’s Facebook page and on the official “Who Needs Feminism?” Facebook page. “Who Needs Feminism?” will be on display in the library Nov. 2 through Dec. 28.