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Q&A: Women’s History Month: University clubs driving for change

A conversation with WWU’s Lavender Menaces and Professional Women’s Association

March is Women’s History Month. Western Washington University has multiple clubs on campus that work to support female empowerment. // Illustration by Sam Fozard

Across the world, March is Women’s History Month. To celebrate, we spoke to leaders from two on-campus clubs at Western Washington University, Lavender Menaces and the Professional Women’s Association, and asked them for their perspectives on women’s issues today.

Answers have been edited for clarity and brevity. 

Q: Can you tell me a bit about your club and its mission?

Aislinn Kertez, Lavender Menaces’ Lead Officer: Lavender Menaces was started by Samantha Craig back in 2021 and what she really wanted was a community space for all women loving women, and non-men loving non-men. Not a dating space, I feel like there's enough bars and other spaces and dating apps for that. Really a community space to make friends because it’s challenging to find queer friends in any space. I liked that sentiment, and so I decided to apply and became an officer.

Viktoriya Guidima, Lavender Menaces Officer: I'm just hopping on to leading Lavender Menaces pretty recently. I think our mission is to empower lesbians at Western and bring the community together. To create a stronger foundation for women that love women at Western.

Ava Jemely, Professional Women’s Association President: Professional Women's Association is a club to promote women and provide a space where they feel welcome and okay to ask questions. It gives women an opportunity to make connections and grow their network in a way that they don't really get opportunities to.

Q: What do you think some of the most significant barriers are to female empowerment?

Aislinn: There’s a lack of education. Honestly, some people just need to read one feminist history book. Do some research. Just read more books in general.

Viktoriya: I would say other women are not really uplifting each other like we could be. That's why I really hope that this club can do a better job of identifying barriers and working through them together as a community. 

Ava: I think access. There's a lot of programs like ours out there, but gaining access and even knowing about those things is difficult. I've heard from a lot of people that, for members of our club, it took a while for them to find us, and not because we are not promoting or trying hard enough. 

Q: Which women do you draw inspiration from? 

Aislinn: I’m inspired by a lot of women, famous and not. I love feminist literature and Audre Lorde. I’m a big fan of her book “Sister Outsider.” Allison Bechdel — I love her comic books. Leslie Feinberg, who wrote “Stone Butch Blues” and other transgender activist books. They are all queer women who inspire me. People every day inspire me. When I see someone who's in my class, and they're a really cool scientist or a really nice artist, that inspires me. I want to be like that.

Viktoriya: A lot of the female teachers here at Western are really inspiring, especially those in STEM careers where there aren’t a lot of women in the field. I find it really interesting how they were able to really make a space for themselves. 

Ava: My mom. I think that's a pretty common answer. My mom has always been my biggest supporter throughout my entire life. My kindergarten teacher, Miss Howe, even though I don't talk to her now, she's always been someone that really influenced me positively. She helped me through school, and I still look at a letter she sent me from Hollywood when she visited.

Q: How do you empower the women around you?

Aislinn: Our goal is always to create a safe space. The empowerment that comes from finding community with other people is so important. Because when you see other people like you, you feel free to express yourself however you want and feel accepted. I think that's really the mission of the Lavender Menaces.

Viktoriya: Through our meetings, we’re able to see that there are other women like us in the community, and being able to connect with someone with similar struggles and understandings is really empowering. 

Ava: We try to make it as friendly and as chill as possible. Us officers are very close friends, and we love to joke around with each other and we really try to make it so that our members feel the same way. When you have more of those types of communities across the campus, generally women feel uplifted. I know there are a couple other women's clubs on campus and clubs that have a majority women membership. They really help create a space where people can feel welcomed, heard and free to express themselves. 

The Lavender Menaces meet Thursdays at 6 p.m. You can find them on the Western Involvement Network or on Instagram. The Professional Women’s Association meets Wednesdays from 5-6 p.m. in Academic West 303. You can also find them on Instagram.

Madeline Thielman

Madeline Thielman is a campus life reporter for The Front this quarter. She is a fourth-year journalism/public relations major and business administration minor. In her free time, she enjoys hanging out with her dog, spending time outdoors, and all things travel. You can reach her at

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