The Cougar Activities Board invited students to Stern Gardens on March 8th for dinner in honor of International Women’s Day.
Walking up to Stern it was a clear, cool night and the first thing that stood out against the lawn were votives full of happy yellow flowers. To the left was pasta, drinks and cookies; and to the right were women happily chatting and eating at wooden tables.
The dinner was named after Pierrine St. Claire Smith Byrd ‘22, the first woman to graduate from the College. Naming the dinner after Byrd was meant to celebrate the achievements of women College of Charleston alum, but to also usher in a feeling of remembrance and thankfulness for women trailblazers.
Ending the dinner was Professor Louise Doire. Professor Doire has her Masters in Divinity and teaches classes on campus in the Religious and Women’s and Gender studies departments.
As the talking died down and people finished their meal, Professor Doire directed her attention to the crowd and asked the question: “has anyone heard of patriarchy chicken?”
None of us had, but Professor Doire went on to tell us that patriarchy chicken is a sort of game women can play when they walk down the street. As an experiment, women will notice when they are going to collide with a man on a sidewalk and instead of moving, they see if the man will move instead.
The people who coined patriarchy chicken realized that men are taught to take up and claim more space than women and that often collisions will happen when playing patriarchy chicken.
Having explained patriarchy chicken, Professor Doire went on to use this concept of men taking up space to talk about her own experiences. Having a Masters in Divinity, and working on it when she was married with two children, Professor Doire shared her unique experience in getting her masters.
Despite working in a male-dominated field, Professor Doire listed off the professors she had who were trailblazers. Most notably, one of her professors was part of the Philadelphia 11. The Philadelphia 11 was a group of 11 women who in 1974, were ordained as the first women priests in the Episcopal church.
As Professor Doire shared her “sheroes” she asked us whose shoulders we stood on and women that we were thankful for. Many thanked their mothers or their grandmothers, some thanked the suffragettes.
As the event wrapped up, Professor Doire encouraged us to state what we were proud of ourselves for and to declare that and to take up space with our pride. As students walk around campus, she encourages them to check their own walking habits and to not be afraid to take up space.
While the College now has a disproportionate amount of students who are women, it is nice to remember that that was not always the case and to feel grateful for those who led the way. Pierinne St. Claire Smith Byrd was a brave and hard working woman and thank you to CAB for helping carry on her legacy.