If you just got to campus, you may not have heard about “The Vagina Monologues,” The Clothesline Project or Walk a Mile in Her Shoes. These are three pretty big annual events that have been stewarded by Assistant Professor, Jill Eichhorn for over a dozen years here at APSU.
What makes Eichhorn’s work in our community distinct is that through drama and visual art, activism and volunteerism, she draws attention to the facts that indisputably demonstrate people are being hurt by interpersonal and sexual violence. And she goes further to remind us that we all have a role to play in reducing the harm while supporting the survivors among us.
At the Faculty Awards Ceremony on August 14, 2019, APSU President Alisa White bestowed this year’s Distinguished Community Service Award on Eichhorn for her tireless work to reduce and end sexual abuse and domestic violence.
Eichhorn has hosted the “Vagina Monologue” readings on campus for 18 years. Despite this, she still finds new ways to change it up.
“This year we will feature new voices, parts for men, for all genders and those all along the continuum. The story keeps unfolding … each year it is new and exciting.”
Eichhorn is looking forward to using the money from the award to further benefit students.
“Have you heard that Gloria Steinem has a new book out? It is called ‘The Truth Will Set You Free; But First It Will Piss You Off,’” Eichhorn said. “Ashley Judd is hosting a conversation with [Steinem] at TPAC on Friday, November 1 at the War Memorial Auditorium in Nashville. With the little bit of money I got from this award, I think I can take some of my students to see the feminist voice of my generation … and along with the talk, they get the book.”
When asked about the ‘Gloria Steinem’ of this generation, Eichhorn said, “Beyonce is deep. I know she speaks to my students, my daughter, a huge audience,” Eichhorn said, “But I would say that Ava DeVurnay might be more on point.”
“Her work, both behind the camera and as a producer, is elevating authentic stories of women’s lives to the main-stream. It is making a difference. I don’t know for sure, but right now I am keeping my eye on Ava,” Eichhorn said.
Eichhorn notes that her concerns lie with young people’s turning to online relationships for intimacy.
“Young women, all young people really, are meeting people on-line. They are understandably looking for the satisfaction they believe love and affection can bring,” Eichhorn said. “But without ever really knowing who is on the other end of the hook-up, they are traveling away from their support system and exposing their bodies, their hearts and their wallets to unknown strangers who may not have their best interest at heart.”
“I am worried. We just don’t have enough good role models of real, in-person intimacy and healthy relationships for this generation to emulate,” Eichhorn said.
“Modern media has all these stories of magical meetings and instantaneous romance… but, in my experience, life does not work that way.”
Though Eichhorn has a lot on her plate, she said, “I am renewed over and over again because I see the incremental progress in the process.”
“People are changed by their work for justice and I am privileged to be a part of that. This award is appreciated, and now it is time to get back to work,” Eichhorn said. “I am looking forward to the students in my class, who travel to our annual conferences, who might just light up and take on the responsibilities of leadership that the times require.”