Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Global Feminisms

             Tuesday’s Brown Bag on Global Feminisms featured a panel of four Colgate Professors discussing their different types of feminist activism. PCON Professor Susan Thomson, a human rights lawyer, researcher, and author, spoke about activism in her work, her research, and in her classroom. Feminism, she said, is informed by the ability to speak and give voice, to self-reflect on privilege, to be curious, and to able to question why things are the way they are. The main point of Professor Thomson’s contribution is that challenging traditions that protect men and power is a very slow process. She realized this at a very young age after an incidence of domestic violence in her town went unspoken and unquestioned. In her work as a human rights lawyer, she has had two successes in the last twenty years. Professor Thomson asks us to question why and how people are in the positions that they are. Professor of Educational Studies Anna Rios was the second professor sharing her story. She described her experience with feminism as being very elliptical. Professor Rios grew up in an immigrant household and witnessed the experience of her indigenous Peruvian grandmother and the difficulties and harships she faced operating in a patriarchal system. After sharing her grandmother’s story, Professor Rios spoke about how women of color carve out spaces to enact their own agency because oftentimes, they can be forgotten in the larger feminist narrative as a result of an assumed universal experience.
          Professor of German studies Tessa Wegener shared her story of moving to Germany with her mother and her new husband and the affect that had on her conceptions of feminism and how it relates to her interest in women’s writing in post war era and issues of migration and integration. She explained watching her independent mother become a German housewife and the ways in which she was restricted spatially to the domestic sphere. Professor Wegener also spoke a lot about the importance of writing and how it allows women to articulate and share their experiences. Professor of Economics and Women Studies Ulla Grapard was the last professor to share her experiences before the discussions was opened up to Q&A. She spoke about her experience coming of age in 1950s Denmark. I really enjoyed this part of the discussion because it was interesting to hear about the rigid gender roles that existed and the ways in which she rebelled against them. It was interesting to hear about the expectations of docility and politeness and what sort of consequences came from going against those norms. She was discouraged from pursuing economics, and from studying gender and economics. Professor Grapard also talked about pay and gender equality, job segregation, and education. I really enjoyed this discussion and thought it was great to hear from these women their activism.


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