First thing’s first: as the current Editor-in-Chief of Wetlands Magazine I would like to give a warm welcome back to everyone returning to the Puget Sound from the summer hiatus; glad to have y’all back! I would also like to extend an equally warm welcome to all new campus community members! We’re so excited to welcome you into this community. There have been many exciting developments for Wetlands this summer, including Wetlands’ unprecedented budget for publishing, events, and advertising, and the continued support from Generation Progress. This academic year we plan to publish not one but TWO full issues, and I can’t wait to find out what topics are on your minds!
In further exciting campus news, the University of Puget Sound’s women’s group (previously known as WEB, formerly known as VAVA) has settled on a new name that the officers (myself included) hope will carry the group forward well into the future. The group has chosen the name WIXEN, short for Women’s InterseXtionality, Empowerment, and Narratives, an acronym that we feel not only represents the spirit of our group, but also holds symbolic power in representing us as a club.
At the end of the Fall ‘12 semester, the then VAVA officers were approached by members of the campus community with concerns that our name, Vagina/Vulva Anti-Violence Alliance, was cissexist (transphobic). We as a group responded to these concerns by first acknowledging them and then by opening up a dialogue about language and inclusivity, and also revisiting our mission as a club on the whole. We agreed that our name should reflect our goals as a group, first and foremost being our commitment to creating a safe and inclusive space for all women-identified members of the campus community, and so we settled on WEB, or Women’s Empowerment and Badassery, as our new name, to affirm and represent our commitment to inclusivity.
Whether as VAVA, as WEB, or now as WIXEN, the women’s group has always been primarily a discussion group and informal support network for women-identified members of the campus community. In addition to weekly discussion meetings on topics ranging from “hair,” to “ negotiating your love/hate relationship with popular media and culture that sends problematic messages about the roles of women in contemporary American society,” the group has collaborated with De-Masc (Deconstructing Masculinity), Q&A (Queer Student Alliance), the SIRGE (Sexuality Issues, Relationships, and Gender Issues) coordinator, BSU (Black Student Union), Wetlands Magazine, and a number of other groups on campus to promote inclusivity and intersectionality. Each year through V-Day the women’s group sponsors the production of Eve Ensler’s The Vagina Monologues, hosts a campus “F*ck Yeah Feminist Film Series,” and collaborates with SIRGE to support the annual Take Back The Night week-long series of events each spring. As WIXEN, the women’s group plans to continue to promote thoughtful and inclusive discussion and action with the knowledge that the group’s name sends a powerful message about our values and commitments.
Why have I chosen to welcome you back from summer with a brief political history of the Puget Sound women’s group? The mission of Wetlands Magazine is to explore the intersections of gender, identity, sexuality, politics, and social justice. As a literary and arts publication we deal with a range of modes of representation: literary and visual, explicit and abstract, and the question when curating the magazine is always, “How can we best represent and fulfill our mission as a publication?” As an English major, an Editor-in-Chief of a publication, and a liberal arts student, I know that language is important. I’m not suggesting that grammar and syntax are the end-all be-all markers of successful communication (on the contrary, meaningful communication occurs all around us all the time regardless of linguistic and literary formalities), but what I am suggesting is that the ways in which we express ourselves and our beliefs through language in conjunction with our actions contribute to the creation of ourselves as representatives of our values and belief systems. It does little good to nominally represent one thing if our actions represent another, and vice versa. And so, dear readers, my goal for this semester and for this 2013-2014 academic year is to challenge each and every one of us to be conscious of our words as well as our actions. To constantly be aware of our modes of communication. To question. To promote open and honest dialogue. To check in with others and be respectful of feedback. And, most importantly, to continue working toward building a community in which every member feels included and respected.