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Women’s Energy Weekend: April 1977

April 3, 2010

Women’s Energy Weekend was born in April 1977 at Kirkland College. A group of students, staff, and faculty collaborated on an event “to talk about, learn about and celebrate our experiences as women.”

Spanning three days from April 15 to 17, the inaugural WEW featured open-mike performances by women poets and musicians, a dance with the campus band “New Breed,” two theater pieces, a picnic, and discussions led by faculty and students or off-campus guests as follows:

Spectator Article, Apr. 15 1977 , p.7

• Women and Literature

• Women and Law

• Lesbianism

• Anatomy and Physiology of the Human Female

• Witchcraft

• Women and Religion

What I remember is the climate, the atmosphere from which WEW formed and eventually flourished. Exploring what it meant to be a woman–physically, psychosocially, sexually–all that was being articulated openly, in various ways, and it felt very new. And of course, being at a fine arts school for women was in a way its own celebration of that. So all of us were on the same page, no matter how different we were from each other, and when I think back on it, we were all so different–in terms of backgrounds, sexual orientation. But it didn’t feel that way.

When I created Woman Alone, which was a collection of readings from women writers loosely woven into a dramatic narrative, it was extremely well attended, and not just by Kirkland women, but women from the community as well. I remember a woman coming up to me after a performance, who was practically in tears, and she told me how great she thought it was. She couldn’t believe it was put together by an 18-year-old! But I could see that she was touched by these women’s voices and perspectives. And that’s what I remember most.

by Barbara Berson ’79 with Jo Pitkin K’78

Did You Know?

Kirkland’s Women’s Energy Weekend was the forerunner of today’s Womyn’s Energy Week held annually in April at Hamilton College. The current WEW is organized by Hamilton’s Womyn’s Center. The original Women’s Resource Center, founded at Kirkland by Cassandra Harris-Lockwood (K’74) and other students, was variously located in Kirner-Johnson or McEwen. Staffed by Kirkland students, the Center provided change for vending machines and washers and dryers, sold tampons, and offered information on feminism, rape, bodily image, lesbianism, abortion, and gynecological services.

Second WEW, April 1978

Program donated to Kirkland Archives by Katie Koelle, K'78 (click on image for full size)

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