Ice Cream and Anarchy: A Women’s Studies Pop-Up

WSU Women's Studies served up ice cream and conversation in a Reading Day event

By Nicole O’Connell

In 1892, the anarchist Emma Goldman opened up an ice cream shop in Worcester. 127 years later, the Women’s Studies Program at Worcester State celebrated this historical juxtaposition of ice cream and anarchy with an ice cream social.

Faculty, staff, and students gathered in this Reading Day pop-up space in the Student Center that proclaimed, “All are welcome who welcome all.”

During the course of the pop-up, there was almost constant laughter within various group conversations. Attendees spoke about social issues and whatever topics came to mind.

A pin-making device was a highlight as there was always a group hovering nearby, fashioning together pins with phrases such as “Smash the Patriarchy,” “Ask Me About My Feminist Agenda,” and “No Muslim Ban Ever.”

Adult coloring pages were available, as well as the next book the WSU Feminist Book Club will be discussing in the fall.

Fruit, cheese and crackers, pizza, and pink lemonade was accompanied by, of course, ice cream.

Dr. Charlotte Haller, director of Women’s Studies, explained that the program had ice-cream during Reading Day last year and the decision was made to continue that practice, but this year, with the added theme.

“I’m a historian, I’m interested in Worcester’s history, and I’d always known Emma Goldman had an ice cream shop,” said Haller. “So it came together in that way. Let’s have ice cream, let’s celebrate Emma Goldman, let’s celebrate Worcester history!”

Although many attendees did not know about the Emma Goldman-Worcester-ice cream connection before this event, a few said it was “interesting.” Attendees came for the sense of community and the comfortable atmosphere the Women’s Studies events have provided.

“This is the third event that I’ve gone to,” said Dr. Tanya Mears of the History Department. “And every one that I’ve been to, I have really enjoyed.”

Mears plans to participate in the Feminist Book Club which will be reading Thick by Tressie McMillan Cottom. This past Valentine’s Day, the Feminist Book Club discussed Men Explain Things to Me by Rebecca Solnit.

Taylor Walker, a freshman communication major hoping to concentrate in Women’s Studies has attended the last few Women’s Studies events, including the February Feminist Book Club meeting.

“It was amazing,” she said. “The professors and students talking were really interesting because you get to hear all these different opinions and perspectives. You get an opinion from an older generation and how they were raised, and then you get the perspective of a younger, early twenties, teenager generation. It’s such a different way of looking at life and how people are treated.”

Walker believes these events have been enriching her experience at Worcester State and she hopes to keep attending them.

“I like the group of people,” Walker said. “I like coming to these things; they’re really interesting and thought-provoking and there’s a lot of intelligent professors and other students to learn from.”

With the success of these Women’s Studies events, Haller believes the Worcester State community needs more informal spaces to communicate, like this pop-up. The ice cream social’s poster with Emma Goldman’s face plastered across it states the same: since Women’s Studies does not have a designated spot on campus, “We need a feminist space where people of all genders can gather, get information, have fun, and create communities.”

If you are interested in learning more about future Women’s Studies events or participating in the Feminist Book Club, contact Dr. Charlotte Haller at

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