Tea and conversation: is Beyoncé a feminist?

Two Gannon University groups are coming together to bring students “Tea & Conversation.”

Gannon’s Center for Social Concerns and the women’s studies program have teamed up to bring monthly “Tea & Conversation” events to the university’s community. “Is Beyoncé a Feminist?” will be the first of these discussions at 4 p.m. Monday at The Knight Club.

The flier for the event features a cover of “Ms. Magazine,” a publication known for its feminist roots and ideals.

Carolyn Baugh, Ph.D., an assistant history professor and director of the women’s studies program, said the idea to have the event came out of a discussion with a colleague from Indiana.

She said they talked about Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, a famous Nigerian author, her TED talks – a nonprofit series devoted to spreading ideas – on feminism and how Beyoncé referenced it for her own thoughts on feminism.

Baugh said the upcoming discussion will evaluate Beyoncé’s view of feminism and whether her lyrics mirror the same ideals. It will also focus on defining feminism.

“[While speaking with my colleague,] we were worrying aloud about our students who seemed to misunderstand entirely what feminism is – the desire to have both genders treated equally with regard to respect and human rights,” Baugh said, “and she noted that one of her students had asked if she could be a feminist and still get married!”

Baugh said this event will be based on open discussion and that she would like to hear the different viewpoints of the Gannon community.

“I hope the discussion will encourage our students, professors and staff to critically analyze some of the lyrics out there today,” Baugh said.

“Many are in fact astonishingly degrading – I have the privilege of having a high-school aged daughter who keeps me up to date – while some are surprisingly empowering.”

Laura Goble, the director of the Center for Social Concerns, said the event will include listening to, watching and talking about Beyoncé in the Knight Club while drinking fair trade tea and having snacks.

“Feminism is all about promoting equity and dialogue, which is also a concern of the center,” Goble said.

“The center is working hard to help promote dialogue about complex issues; dialogue more than debate is what leads to peace-building within communities.”

Other upcoming events include: Dr. Lisa Nogaj, an assistant professor of chemistry, leading a discussion on the particular challenges of women in the sciences; Dr. Andrew Caswell, an assistant professor of psychology, talking about his field of masculinity studies; Dr. Richard Moodey, an assistant professor of sociology, leading a discussion on body image that will consider not only his own research but also media influences; and Dr. Julia Mack, an assistant professor of criminal justice, talking about women in the criminal justice field.

Baugh said she is counting on the ideas of her colleagues and her students to help keep the conversation bright and engaging.

“Maybe we will all figure it out together and maybe we won’t come to a consensus at all,” Baugh said, “but it should be an enjoyable discussion where we at least get to know each other, laugh a little, have some fair trade tea and walk away enriched by having been together for an afternoon.”


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