“A Feminist Mini Golf Course? What’s that?”
I know. It sounds jarring, goofy and even a little laughable at first glance. But my question is this: Can’t a project be goofy and educational at the same time? The creators of the first-ever Reproductive Justice Mini Golf Course experimented with this question and confidently said, “yes.”
As a first year student, I joined Gender, Sexuality, and Feminist Studies professor Carly Thomsen’s Politics of Reproduction (GSFS 329) class because I wanted to learn more about abortion rights and how I can be a better activist in this regard. I never thought I would be contributing to a mini golf course and creating meaningful feminist art for everyone to see. However, by learning about feminist approaches to enact social change in this class, I’ve realized that one of the most powerful ways to achieve justice is through the simple act of starting the conversation. And an effective way to do that is through art and games. And that is exactly what this upcoming event is about.
As fun and simple as mini golf may be, we also built this course for an educational purpose. It is meant to inspire people to learn more about reproductive justice issues. Reproductive justice is more than just advocating for the legal right to choose if you want an abortion. Instead, reproductive justice activism focuses on ensuring access to abortion and reproductive health care for everyone. This language departs from the often-used, yet outdated terminology of “pro-choice” because choice does not necessarily equate to autonomy, equality or justice in America. For example, even if a woman may have the “choice” to decide if she wants an abortion, she may not, for a number of reasons, have access to one. This new framework recognizes other social justice issues that impede people’s abilities to have and raise children they want. We aim to fight for granting every woman the opportunity to a self-directed and fulfilling reproductive life unencumbered by legal, social or financial barriers.
Professor Thomsen is the mastermind behind the feminist mini golf project, and she worked with several individuals and groups to achieve her vision; collaboration has been key to getting this mini golf course built. Colin Boyd, a technician in Studio Art, is co-teaching the Feminist Building class with Thomsen that is responsible for the construction of the mini golf course. Rayn Bumstead, a Midd alum, is the project’s Director of Design. Students in David Miranda-Hardy’s Film and Media Studies class are making videos to be incorporated into the course. And the peers in my class have generated much of the educational content and art, which will be featured at the physical mini golf course and on the project website. Through these collaborations, a group of MiddKids with the same passions helped bring the Reproductive Justice Mini Golf Course to life!
The interactive game consists of 11 holes, each dedicated to different barriers affecting reproductive autonomy today. Examples of the holes include incarceration, sexual education, reproductive technology and Crisis Pregnancy Centers (CPCs). This project allows participants to better understand the different obstacles that women must face before getting an abortion while simultaneously fostering a fun environment where people can play a game and educate themselves.
I’ve learned through this semester-long collaborative project that everyone’s individual hard work and dedication has contributed to our cumulative knowledge and passion for reproductive justice activism. In my class, we have learned how to use Feminist and Queer Studies approaches, which center gender, race, class, and sexuality, in our understanding of reproductive justice. With the goals of social change and learning how to produce public-facing content in a feminist way, we created many forms of art, through painting, sculpting, building, or even social media infographics.
I believe there is something truly special about creating art in a variety of mediums to get people to talk about serious, life-altering topics in today’s world. It is tough at times to be open-minded about certain issues and trying to understand the complexities of their impact. But projects like the mini golf course strive to create a world through art and a mindless game to help you become more comfortable having these conversations and to become a better activist.
So, join the action. I urge you to learn about reproductive justice, resist and fight against restrictions on women’s bodies. But simultaneously still have fun! Feminism is supposed to be public, joyful and collaborative. It is meant to spark conversations and shift our thinking. And this is exactly what we hope the Reproductive Justice Mini Golf Course will do. To reiterate, I know it sounds a little goofy, but it definitely grabbed your attention, right?
The grand opening of the Feminist Mini Golf Course is May 12 4-5:30 at Kenyon Arena. The event will have various food stations, drinks, and live trivia! For more information and to see progress on the course, follow @feministmingolf on Instagram.