Spilling the tea and tackling tough topics


The Women's Center is located in the fourth floor of the Student Union. There is a significant pay gap between genders and it is projected that the gap will not be closed until 2058. (The Daily Campus)

The Women’s Center is located in the fourth floor of the Student Union. There is a significant pay gap between genders and it is projected that the gap will not be closed until 2058. (The Daily Campus)

Buzzing with impassioned conversation, people were more than willing to spill the tea at the Women’s Center last night, sharing their thoughts on the topic of the night: The progression of women’s rights and the evolution of the movement in recent years. The Tough Tea Time event not only energized attendees with sugar from Insomnia Cookies and Dunkin Donuts, but also with facilitated discussion that ranged from body image to the progression of the legalization of women’s rights. Students can look forward to similar engaging events in the future.

“Last semester, we had our first Tough Tea Time event,” Grace Mandy, fourth-semester secondary English education major, said. She serves as co-chair of the Women’s Center programming committee. “It was more about how we can become better feminists and approach feminism. This time, we talked more about how far we’ve come in feminism, and how far we’ve got left to go. I’m really happy with the turn-out. Everyone was really engaged, and it’s comforting to hear how many people may feel the same way or have the same concerns.”

The discussions were conducted “World Cafe Style,” in which attendees would move around the room when the topics were switched so that they could exchange views with new people. Prompts for discussion were listed on a slideshow and people were encouraged to branch off into their own personal experiences and stories to share with listeners.

The night started off with women’s physical health, with students discussing how the expansion of contraceptive access with Roe v. Wade has affected women’s place in society, the conversation about sexual assault and women in the workforce. All of the topics connected back to the idea if society has progressed in certain areas and what still has to be worked on.

“When people used to talk about sexual assault, it immediately used to go to victim blaming,” Georgina Dong, a fourth-semester psychology major, said. “Now, more people trust the people who speak up, which is progressive … there’s still a lot to work on, but at least there is more attention being drawn to these issues.

When talking about body image in the media, students talked about the image presented to viewers in commercials and advertisements.

“The idea of presenting women as faceless with just their bodies, and not their faces, in frame, as well as with a voyeuristic view has been a huge trend in commercials,” Anna Scoppettone, a fourth-semester English major, said. “And now on Instagrams, you can’t avoid advertisements, whether it’s from celebrities or the tailored ads that pop up on your feed. It’s horrible for girls that are young and coming into their bodies to see these ads and feel the need to portray themselves as perfect when they don’t have to be.”

Event goers promoted the idea of diversity and representation in the media and the public sphere in general. They noted the societal need for a cultural shift in how women and minorities are viewed, and ultimately, the need for society to be more aware and educated on issues that are being viewed as controversial, whether it be feminism, reproductive rights and equity.

“We’ve gotten past a lot of the “firsts” for women, but we still have a ways to go with how women are actually viewed and treated in society,” Kamya Trivedi, a fourth-semester finance major, said. “We still haven’t had our first female president! Women are underrepresented throughout society, from politics to the STEM field to the media, and it’s important for others to look up to them in places of power to eventually increase representation across the board.”

From Aly Raisman to Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, students had many women from recent years to look up to, as well as future Women’s Center events to look forward to.

“We’re always looking for more help with cool event ideas,” Mandy shared. “If people are interested or have ideas, they should come and join the programming committee. We’re thinking of coming up with a new event for either the spring or fall semester, centered around the newer topic of crisis pregnancy centers. We try to make our events as open and welcoming as possible for people to share their thoughts.”

Hollie Lao is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at hollianne.lao@uconn.edu.

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