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The Sloss House, home to the Margaret Sloss Women's Center, recently changed names to the "Margaret Sloss Center for Women and Gender Equity" effective Jan. 7, 2019.

A new school year means a new set of Feminist Fridays, and the Margaret Sloss Center for Women and Gender Equity has the entire first semester already planned out.

Feminist Fridays are weekly conversation hours, at 1 p.m. every Friday in the Sloss House, dedicated to raising awareness and engaging dialogue around a broad spectrum of issues through a feminist lens.

The first Feminist Friday will take place at 1 p.m. this Friday in the Sloss House. The speaker will be Kelly Reddy-Best, assistant professor for apparel, events and hospitality management, and her topic will be “Queer Fashions and Styles: Telling Stories about Our Identities through Objects.”

“Dr. Kelly Reddy-Best has coursework and research in the area of queer fashion and I think is going to talk about the power of material objects and clothing to communicate gender identity and to speak about someone’s identity in general,” said Ruxandra Looft, director of the Margaret Sloss Center for Women and Gender Equity. “I’m really curious and interested to hear about what she has to say about queer fashion and what that means.”

Looft said that Reddy-Best will be bringing in objects that relate to her topic to discuss.

Feminist Fridays are free and open to students, faculty, staff and Ames community members. Refreshments are available and attendees are welcome to bring their lunch.

A usual Feminist Friday is packed, with all seats filled with students, grad students, faculty, staff and community members. It is an intimate atmosphere in the small space of the Sloss House, with an informal presentation by that Friday’s speaker, usually without a slideshow. It feels like a conversation, with the speaker usually taking up 30 minutes of the hour and the rest being reserved for dialogue and Q&A.

Looft said that Feminist Fridays were created about a year prior to her appointment as director of the Sloss Center and the sessions were a little more spread out, not every Friday, and only faculty were speakers.

“What we did this last year was to really give it a consistent, every-Friday schedule so that everyone can count on 'every Friday at one go to Sloss House' and listen to a different speaker and have access to a different voice, a different perspective,” Looft said. “We really like making it that predictable end of the week.”

On the Sloss Center’s website is a form where individuals can self-nominate or nominate another person to be a speaker for future Feminist Fridays, though the Sloss Center’s staff does still reach out to individuals across Iowa State and Ames to come speak as well. Looft said that each speaker comes up with their own topics, though the Sloss Center does take recommendations for topics that they will try to find a speaker for.

“We aim to have every semester a series that includes students, faculty, staff and we have also brought in community organizers,” Looft said.

Looft said that some of the topics are academic in nature or based on the speaker’s work, but she said more often than not the topic is focused on personal stories and narratives and the speaker is sharing their lived experiences.

“Conversation and dialogue are hugely important,” Looft said. “The only way we can learn about things we don’t know about is by engaging in dialogue about it. As much as it is important to research and read about topics, there is something really powerful that happens in conversation with others when exploring and voicing out loud thoughts on something.”

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