HerStory: Giving women a voice

By Amanda Thorogood

Gloria Steinem created a magazine and started a revolution. Marilyn Monroe lit up the screen and sparked the interest of women for generations. And Maria Gullo, a junior psychology and English major, created HerStory, a women’s journal that she hopes will inspire women on Rider campuses just as these strong women have inspired her.

“It celebrates what women have to go through on a daily basis,” Gullo said. “It is going to have poetry, plays, prose [and] literary essays all with a feminist overtone.”

Gullo credits both Monroe and Steinem’s magazine as inspirations for creating HerStory and giving her the confidence to accomplish the task of compiling pieces that rejoice in what it means to be a woman.

“I have always been really intrigued by the story of Marilyn Monroe,” Gullo said. “Here was this very public figure, and she was an extremely beautiful and talented actress. However, her journals said that she was never happy, she always felt alone, she never had any real friends and no one really knew her.

“She felt like in the media no one really portrayed who she really was, no matter what she said,” Gullo said. “I feel like that’s how a lot of women at Rider might feel, and a lot of women everywhere might feel that no matter what happens or where they are, they can never really be who they truly are.”

The journal’s purpose is to combat the negative portrayal of women and allow women to openly express themselves, Gullo said.

“Hopefully when the Rider population reads the journal they will feel strengthened, encouraged and understood, and then maybe that will even inspire them to be more of themselves,” she said.

This is the first year that the journal has been on campus and Gullo plans on having a print edition as well as an online edition released in March of 2009.

The journal’s executive board is made up of five women Gullo met when she first came to campus and has been friends with ever since. They were the first people she thought of when creating the idea.

One of these women is sophomore secondary education and English major Julie Morcate, who currently serves as the co-vice president of HerStory.

“Maria is one of my best friends, and she asked me to join because I’ve worked on a variety of creative publications for the past four years now,” she said.

Morcate also said that HerStory is a great outlet for a lot of women who may not know where to turn for inspiration.

“It is about expressing creatively the feminine journey,” Morcate said. “The journal will cover topics like childhood; parents; adolescence and all of its problems and breakthroughs; being a woman in college and all that it entails; finding and losing love; friendship; motherhood; sex; and morality. Pretty much, every facet of womanhood you can imagine we want to address.”

She added that the journal intends to uphold the beliefs of third-wave feminism, which is said to carry on the ideas of traditional feminism while particularly focusing on encompassing the voices of women who are young, women of color and non-heterosexual women.

Gullo said that the overall goal for the journal is more about the quality and less about quantity. She plans on releasing only one edition of HerStory within the current school year, composed of what she hopes will be at least 25 strong pieces.

Embracing the stories of women, HerStory intends to overcome the negative portrayals that seem to flood the mainstream media.

“All of the time these things are happening where women are pressured to be thinner and prettier,” Gullo said. “Simply by looking in magazines women see things that are not realistic and women begin to feel small.”

Strong female role models are hard to find in the media, while superficial figures like Paris Hilton and Britney Spears abound. Gullo hopes women can realize they are their own mentors.

“I think that Rider students can be the best models for themselves actually,” she said.

Gullo encourages anyone with a poem, play, essay or any ideas or interest in the group to contact HerStory by emailing Herstory@rider.edu.

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