The Women’s and Gender Non-Conforming Center is an inclusive space where historically underrepresented students, including but not limited to women, LGBTQPIA+, and sex and gender non-conforming students, can come to be as they are, outside of social scripts. We curate programs, collaborations, and events that affirm these students’ sense of self and belonging—on campus and in the world. Our work is motivated by bell hooks’ famous insights that “patriarchy has no gender” and that, therefore, “feminism is for everybody.” Our center honors hooks’ legacy of feminist activism by supporting students as social justice leaders who are active in the creation of a radical undercommons where their many and varied expressions of difference can thrive at Berea College and beyond. In Fall 2021, the Women’s and Gender Non-Conforming Center was re/named the bell hooks center.
Our programs, collaborations, and events encourage students to think about sex and gender intersectionality, and about what it might take to dismantle what bell hooks calls “imperialist white supremacist capitalist patriarchy.” Our flagship “Gender Talk” series hosts leading feminist scholars, activists, and artists who can teach our campus and community how to navigate and agitate against these structures of power. We believe that an understanding of how sex and gender oppression are products of not just patriarchy, but also and especially of white supremacy has the potential to chart a new chapter in Berea College’s Great Commitments—one that cultivates radical coalition between women, LGBTQPIA+ students, sex and gender non-conforming students, and students of color. Our center is thus committed to equipping the campus and community with language and tools to imagine and enact new relationships that need not reproduce the gender hierarchy, which we believe, following bell hooks’s teachings, is also a racial hierarchy.
The Women’s and Gender Non-Conforming Center (now, bell hooks center) is open from 9-5pm on weekdays in Draper 106.