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Gender roles and protest to be topic of faculty lecture

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NORTH NEWTON, KAN. – For the fifth annual Bethel College Women’s Association (BCWA) Faculty Public Lecture, Penelope Adams Moon, Bethel College associate professor of history, will look at how American women protested the Vietnam War.

The lecture will be held Thursday, June 5, at 7 p.m. in Krehbiel Auditorium in the Fine Arts Center on the Bethel College campus. BCWA members will serve refreshments in the art gallery area afterward. The event is free and open to the public.

Moon’s presentation is entitled “‘We aren’t playing that passive role any longer’: American women’s protest of the Vietnam War.”

“Gender frequently became the organizing principle around which women tackled the task of protesting the war,” Moon said. “Put another way, American women drew on their identities as women and their often shifting understandings of womanhood to protest the war in Vietnam. Women protested as mothers, wives, housekeepers, sisters, consumers, revolutionaries, race women and more, because their sex prevented them from speaking in purely political terms or from protesting as potential combatants, an identity marker crucial to the anti-war movement.

“Women faced the task of either transcending or manipulating existing gender standards to make their non-combatant perspectives heard in a cultural milieu that gave pride of place to political speech and combatant status.”

Moon continued, “I am generally interested in how belief and identity shape behavior. I am also interested in bringing the voices of those that have been marginalized in society into the larger canon of American history.

“If one looks at American history broadly, it becomes immediately apparent that dissent and protest is as American as apple pie – probably more American than apple pie.”

She added that the lecture has been accepted for publication in an anthology about noncombatants and war being put together by two scholars from the University of Auckland.

The BCWA Faculty Public Lecture award is open to any Bethel College professor and carries with it a $1,000 stipend, with $200 going to the faculty member and the remainder to his/her department to be used at that department’s discretion. Last year’s winner was William Eash, professor of music.

For more information, contact Joretta Martens, BCWA president, at 620-465-2380 or

Bethel College is a four-year liberal arts college affiliated with Mennonite Church USA. Founded in 1887, it is the oldest Mennonite college in North America. Bethel is known for its academic excellence and was the highest ranked Kansas college in the national liberal arts category of U.S. News & World Report’s listing of “America’s Best Colleges” for 2008. For more information, see the Bethel Web site at

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