The following is a guest article submitted by The Siren – a feminist magazine located on the campus of UNC. The author is Rachel Maguire, a Co-Editor of The Siren.
1. What is the goal of The Siren on UNC’s campus?
Siren’s goal is essentially to spread feminist messages across campus, to people who may or may not already be informed on feminist issues. Our Mission is stated as such on our website, “The Siren is a student-produced publication at UNC-Chapel Hill that advocates an intersectional feminist analysis of our environments, both individual and institutional. Our feminism strives to confront and acknowledge gender inequity, misogyny, white supremacy, ableism, transphobia, classism, ageism, imperialism and other systems of oppression. We provide readers, members, and our communities a platform to share their experiences.”
2. Why is it called “The Siren”?
As per our website, “In Greek mythology, the Sirens were enchanted creatures sporting the head of a woman and the body of a bird. With their irresistible songs, the Sirens lured sea mariners toward land and rocky graves. We learn in “The Odyssey” that the Sirens’ songs, while deadly, were also full of wisdom. Hearing this, the hero Odysseus decides to try his fate by tying himself to the mast of his ship, but not before having his sailors put wax in their ears to protect them. Courage and restraint enable Odysseus to hear and learn from the Sirens’ songs. He is then empowered to change his destiny. He makes it past the islands safely. We at The Siren want to help change our future for the better as well. At first our message, like that of the Sirens’, may evoke fear. The terms feminism, women’s rights, gender equality, gay rights and civil rights may cause many people to turn a deaf ear, like Odysseus’ sailors. But if you take the time to read our stories, you’ll find our songs full of wisdom and experience, too. We wish you good reading and hope our songs might inspire you as well.” To me, this means that we have a strong and influential message that we want to spread to our community that will hopefully influence a positive change in our environment.
3. Each semester The Siren makes a zine focusing on a theme or topic. Why did you pick a zine as your platform to do this?
So we published a zine this semester, but we also published a traditional magazine that is centered around the theme of home and family. We created the zine that we published this semester, which can be found at the following link, because we wanted to explore our creative sides. Each page in this was created by a Siren member during the length of a two hour meeting; there was no central theme or any formal structure. We just wanted to create.
4. Do you all work closely with any other organizations on campus?
Siren has been an integral organization in creating and leading the Carolina Feminist Coalition, a coalition made up of many different feminist centered organizations on campus, such as Siren, FSU, CAGE, Embody, One Act, The Bridge, and many more. We work closely with other organizations when planning and executing any coalition event. This semester, we have had two mix and mingles and one “Paint It Purple for RVAM”, where we raised over $400 for the Compass Center.
5. Is there a pressing feminist issue you think is extremely salient today?
One very salient feminist issue that exists today is that of reproductive rights. Obviously the president and his administration are anti-abortion, have reinstated the global gag rule, and I am sure have and will continue to push their anti-choice agenda. Whether or not this will impact the state of North Carolina is more up to the governor, but I do know that a very concerning bill has popped up in the House, and the majority of NC House Representatives are in support of it. The bill would criminalize abortion after 6 weeks, a period of time in which women have barely found out they’re pregnant. Of course, this bill would be in violation of Roe v. Wade, so it’s unlikely to get far, but it’s still disheartening that so many representatives want abortion to be illegal so badly.
6. What ways do you think UNC could be “more feminist”, either spatially, policy-wise, etc?
I think that UNC needs to be more racially diverse. This campus is overpopulated with white people and that leads to many white women dominating feminist spaces, whether intentionally or not. I believe that white students in feminist spaces can combat this by making it a point to acknowledge their white privilege and actively seek WoC feminist perspectives, be sure to not center or elevate their voices over WoC, and support WoC activists and feminist organizations on campus, such as The Bridge.
7. What direction do you all think feminism is going in?
I think that feminist is currently splitting into two basic groups – groups who embrace intersectionality and groups that actively deny it. I personally think that the only type of feminism that is true feminist has to be intersectional. Sadly, I know that some cis women are trans exclusionary radical feminists (TERFs) and think that trans woman are not ‘real’ women and therefore should be excluded from women only spaces. This is a definite split that I’ve seen debated in feminist spaces. Thankfully, most feminists that I know at UNC openly embrace and practice intersectional feminism, but the fact that TERFs exist is worrying and frightening, and I am a bit worried to see what will happen with this debate in the future.
We at The Arc would like to extend our upmost gratitude to The Siren for submitting this article.