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Featured Feminist Archive

Our past Featured Feminists include:

If you would like to nominate someone to become a Featured Feminist, please click here. Nominations are accepted for anyone in the Boston College community, including students, faculty, staff, and alumni of all genders.


featured feminist

Léa Oriol

School & Year: A&S 2015

Major: Economics

Minors: Environmental Studies; Computer Science

Questions

1. Tell us a little bit about yourself.

I was born in Paris but consider myself as Swiss. I have lived in Geneva most of my life and fell in love with Switzerland, which I now consider my country. I have always been passionate about traveling, so at age 15, I came to Virginia to study abroad for one year. Two years later, I came to Boston College. I am passionate about service and love exploring the world, so my sophomore summer, I spent two and a half months in Buenos Aires helping refugees and immigrants. I really enjoy drawing (although I tend to limit myself to planner doodles) and reading.

 

2. What are you most passionate about?

This may be the hardest question to answer, but I would say I am most passionate about helping people. Making a difference in the world is what drives me to learn and serve. I am really passionate about environmental topics, such as environmental justice and global justice. My dream is to fund my own NGO in Asia, most likely Central Asia, and focus on victims from global climate change.

 

3. How do you define "feminism"?

For me, “Feminism” does not have a finite definition. I think it can mean different things to different people, but that it should have common grounds to be based on. My personal definition of these common beliefs is equal respect and equal opportunity for men, women, and transgender individuals. Based on this, my view of feminism means active advocacy in favor of marginalized communities, which suffer from discrimination based on their gender or sexuality. We do not live in a binary world, but rather in an infinitely complex world, where people should not have to fit in a gender category, because such thing does not exist. Promoting diversity, promoting rights and justice, and advocating for equality of treatment in all areas of life is what I consider feminism to be.

 

4. Why do you identify yourself as a feminist?

While being immersed in different cultures, I have experienced gender discrimination, both in Asia and in South America. Realizing that we enjoy relatively high gender equality in the “Western World” has been eye opening. Fighting against discrimination and marginalization is part of my core values, and I therefore consider myself as a feminist. I believe that a world of peace can and will only be achieved once all people are treated alike and considered with the same respect, regardless of gender or sexual identity. I would like to fight for a world of peace and acceptance, and feminism is a primordial first step.

 

5. Who or what inspires you?

One of my role models is a woman I met while volunteering in Argentina. Illiterate, she had been taking care of my host family’s grandmother for years. When they came to live with us in Buenos Aires for a few weeks, she told me her story. She had been beaten by her dad because she was a woman and therefore was of little use in rural Argentina. At age 15, she married to escape him, but found herself in a position where she was abused and beaten again. She managed to divorce many years later, and re-married with a promise that she would never get beaten. Despite this, despite her poverty, illiteracy, and marginalized social status, she is the most caring and cheerful person I met while there. She talked to me for hours, telling me about the culture of rural Argentina, praising the cultural richness of her country, answering my curious questions, making me breakfast before I went to work, taking care of an elderly woman, who frankly was not always nice to her, and making sure to brighten everyone’s day.

It is for this woman that I want to fight discrimination. It is for her, her story, her past, and the stories of so many others, that I consider myself a feminist and hope to spread respect, equality, and love for all.

featured feminist

Bethany Woodley

School & Year: A&S 2015

Major: Psychology / Women and Gender Studies

 

Questions

1. Tell us a little bit about yourself

I’m originally from a small town in Ohio, but Boston has won my heart. I have a younger brother and some younger cousins, whom I love more than anything. I’m an RA on campus, so, yes, that means I’ve lived on Newton, not once, but twice (is there a medal of honor for that or something?). I’m involved in GLC, and I secretly wish I was talented enough to be part of an a Capella group. I also greatly enjoy spending time with my friends, laughing, dark chocolate, peanut butter, sweet tea and Netflix.

 

2. What are you most passionate about?

I’m most passionate about people. I love talking to other people and getting to know what makes them tick. I think that everyone has their own unique story, and I feel most enriched when I allow myself to grow through the experiences of others. I am also very passionate about children. I love kids and can absolutely see myself devoting my future career to the service of children in some way. Seriously, just ask any of my friends and they’ll tell you how much I can’t wait to have a baby.

 

3. How do you define "feminism"?

I define feminism as a way of life that allows every human being to live in such a way that they can be free from discrimination or setbacks based solely on parts of themselves that they’re powerless to change. I believe well all have a basic, inherent, equal worth and society has absolutely no right to mess with that.

 

4. Why do you identify yourself as a feminist?

I mean, why wouldn’t I? Honestly, I don’t even consciously think about feminism most of the time because I try to live my life in such a way that is accepting and encouraging of the individual differences that exist among human beings, while at the same time recognizing and celebrating the fact that we’re all equal. For me, feminism is the same as living a life full of love and genuine concern for other people. I simply wouldn’t be living a life true to myself if I were living in a way that was contrary to the mission of the feminist movement.

 

5. Who or what inspires you?

I’m inspired by so many wonderful people, places and things, but I’d have to say on the top of my list is my aunt Christene. She is simply the epitome of the woman I want to be when I grow up. My aunt Christene is possibly the most genuine, loving person I’ve ever been blessed to know. She manages to be a wonderful wife, mother and professional, all the while living a life full of nothing but compassion and concern for other people. I feel truly blessed to call her family and to have her as a shining example of the woman who truly has it all. She’s my superhero.

featured feminist

Matt Mazzari

School & Year: A&S 2014

Major: English

Minor: Creative Writing Concentration

 

Questions

1. Tell us a little bit about yourself

My name is Matt Mazzari, and I’m a senior English Major in the Creative Writing concentration.  I’m originally from New Jersey, I have a little brother named Steve, my favorite Beatles album is Abby Road, I prefer Thin Mints to Tag-a-Longs, the only video games I’m any good at are Super Smash Bros and Galaga, I once shook hands with Stephen Colbert in church, I drink exclusively black coffee, and I’m currently applying for Teach for America.

 

2. What are you most passionate about?

I like to think I’m a fairly well-rounded person passion-wise, but the thing I get most stoked about is definitely fiction writing.  I’m writing a novel for my Senior Honors Thesis right now under the guidance of Professor Chris Boucher; the first draft came out to about 100,000 words, which translates approximately to a 300 page book. I’ve had work appear in the Stylus, and I once wrote over 160 pages worth of short stories for a single-semester course.  Outside of fiction, I also write a music column for The Heights called “The Critical Curmudgeon”.  Some of my other passions include running, drawing, chess, online comic strips, black coffee, and talking about TV shows and books that I like.  But, yeah, writing, is definitely my main jam. 

 

3. How do you define "feminism"?

Feminism is a movement to counteract and eventually undo the social disadvantages experienced by women due to a historical precedent of sexism and inequality.  A feminist believes that American culture restricts women from achieving certain successes, as evidenced by the statistics: despite the fact that they make up over 50% of our population, women occupy a disproportionately small percentage of upper-level management positions and account for less than 20% of Congress.  Feminists also perceive and work to prevent certain injustices/acts of violence that especially target women, such as sexual assault.  The movement as a whole is mainly about exposing and criticizing the world view imposed upon us by our society’s wrongheaded concept of gender roles, which frequently causes people to objectify women, devalue consent, victim-blame, and otherwise reinforce the untenable and unreasonable expectations held for women in America.

 

4. Why do you identify yourself as a feminist?

Because I am capable of empathy on a fundamental level.

 

5. Who or what inspires you?

The Beatles were a massive part of my formative years, and I think it’s fair to say that a great deal of my personality and opinions developed while absorbing their entire discography in early high school.  As for my writing, my favorite authors were always satirical/experimental writers from the 60s and 70s like Kurt Vonnegut, Ken Kesey, and the like.  Lately I’ve branched out a lot more, and I’m finding myself particularly inspired by George Saunders, Beck, Adventuretime, the Mountain Goats, Kelly Link, Chris Bachelder, and a webcomic called Achewood.  Obviously, though, I’ve very much inspired by my parents who have raised me to think critically and always pursue my goals.

featured feminist

Bridget Manning

School & Year: A&S 2015

Major: Sociology

Minor: Ethics and International Social Justice

 

Questions

1. Tell us a little bit about yourself.

I am a junior at BC and studying abroad in Barcelona this spring. I am lucky enough to be studying what I love and if I could be a student for my entire life I probably would (minus the exams).  I live for my family and my friends. A great conversation with a friend or with a stranger will just make my day. I am a huge nerd and I let everyone know it!

 

2. What are you most passionate about?

I am passionate about social justice. I know that is a huge topic, but I just find it so interesting. I have begun to narrow it down a bit. I am more interested in social justice internationally, and specifically women’s health has really sparked my interest.

 

3. How do you define "feminism"?

I have REALLY struggled with how I define feminism. It has been a struggle because my views change constantly because my peers challenge me on a regular basis. I believe feminism is the ideology that women and men are equal in principle and this must be realized in society. Equality in material possessions and legal rights is just the beginning.  Feminism is an ideology that strives for both measurable and immeasurable gender equality; both on paper and in everyone’s minds.

 

4. Why do you identify yourself as a feminist?

I am a feminist because women are not yet equal to men, period.  Although we are on our way, women are continually discriminated against in more measurable ways (unequal pay) but also in less measurable ways (devaluing women’s ability to contribute to society, sexist ideas and behaviors). I don’t believe we live in a post-feminist world, just because we say we are equal doesn’t make it so.

 

5. Who or what inspires you?

My peers, friends, family, and random strangers inspire me on a regular basis. The little moments in life are what inspire me, when people show their passion for life and for others. My parents have both been such an inspiration for my brother and me; I will never be able to repay them for that. When in doubt, smile!

featured feminist

Danny Zepp

Department: First Year Experience

 

Questions

1. Tell us a little bit about yourself.

I am originally from Louisville, KY and came to BC on a football scholarship in 2003.   After a football injury my sophomore year, I was forced to reexamine what it means to be a man in the context of the BC community.  During a time of great difficulty, I found my faith and was confirmed into the Catholic Church.  I am filled with much gratitude as I reflect back on my undergraduate years.  I was cared for deeply by many faculty and administrators in the BC community, which is something I have strived to reflect professionally since graduation.

I have worked in First Year Experience for the past seven years, while living in Walsh Hall as a Resident Minister for the past four years.  I am in the second year of my Ph.D. program in Higher Education at the Lynch School of Education.  I am investigating the identity construction of college men at the intersection of masculinity and faith.  Anecdotally, I have noticed that many college men struggle to reconcile what it means to be a man and what it means to be a man of faith.  In turn, men struggle to engage in honest and intimate relationships with themselves, others, and God.  My research will build a more comprehensive understanding of college men, while helping professionals understand the unique experience conferred upon men of faith.

I am also an avid cyclist.  I ride with fellow Campus Ministers, John Glynn and Tim Hanchin.  Cycling is a place of great friendship and conversation.  It is often where I find peace amidst the busyness of the BC community.

 

2. What are you most passionate about?

I am most passionate about exploring the depths of the human spirit.  I am ignited by a curiosity that seeks to find the goodness in all people and all institutions.  I am passionate about loving people in their deficits, their brokenness, and their humanness, while providing a balance of challenge and support, which can equip others with the empowerment and the freedom to explore their deepest expression of what it means to be human. 

“The glory of God is a human being fully alive.”  - St. Irenaeus

 

3. How do you define "feminism"?

Feminism is a critical lens by which to examine social inequality and power structures, and their cumulative impact on identity construction.  At its core, feminism is rooted in the fundamental dignity of the human person – a key tenet of Catholic social thought. 

 

4. Why do you identify yourself as a feminist?

My self-identification as a feminist is grounded in my relationship with my mother, the strongest woman I know.  She has always engendered in me a feminist ethic of care, rooted in the scholarly work of Carol Gilligan.  This ethic became somewhat repressed during my early college years, as I became preoccupied with my need to belong in conforming to masculine norms.  As I have redefined my masculinity, my life’s work is committed to promoting a feminist ethic of care in all men.   My professional and academic pursuits are a reflection of this ideal.

 

5. Who or what inspires you?

My faith continues to give me energy and inspire me everyday, as it allows me to receive acts of love with gratitude.  I have made reflection a habit as I frequently try to stop and be thankful for the gifts that have been given to me by God.  This gratitude has allowed me to become gentler with myself over time, which enables me to see God working through others.  I am also inspired by the narratives I hear everyday of students who remain courageous in wrestling with big questions of themselves and others.

featured feminist

Caitlin Axtmayer

School & Year: A&S 2014

Major: Sociology

Minor: Women and Gender Studies

 

Questions

1. Tell us a little bit about yourself.

I’m originally from Wallingford, CT and I’m the youngest sibling of four, unless you count our beagles. I have always been passionate about learning through service and immersion, and I have had many opportunities to do so at BC, from the Global Service and Justice Program to the Arrupe International Immersion Program. I studied abroad with the Casa de la Solidaridad in El Salvador last spring, which was the most life-giving experience I have had in my education.  I also love working with kids and I’ve worked as a counselor at the Hole in the Wall Gang Camp in Ashford, CT for the past three summers.

 

2. What are you most passionate about?

As anyone who has helped me narrow down a research topic would know, I’m passionate about a billion things. I have fallen in love with Central America and could talk about my experiences there for hours. I’m really passionate about sexual violence prevention, global health, and learning about other faiths and cultures.

 

3. How do you define "feminism"?

I love the "This is What a Feminist Looks Like" campaign because, for me, anyone can be a feminist and I recognize that that looks different for different people. My personal definition of feminism has grown and evolved in the last six months, let alone the last twenty-one years. I've often heard (and connected with) the idea that feminism is "the radical idea that women are people." This was where my journey with feminism began, that women should be given equal opportunity and treated with equal respect as men. Over time, my definition has grown and I consider feminism to be standing with and advocating for all who are marginalized due to their gender and sexuality. This does not only apply to women, but also transgender persons and even men. I believe that promoting positive masculinities is a huge role of feminism and one that men should be undertaking as well.

 

4. Why do you identify yourself as a feminist?

I never really made an active decision to identify as a feminist. As I have had experiences with sexism and I have studied different inequalities and systems, I have been motivated by a strong belief in human dignity.  Being a feminist has always seemed a part of my identity and core belief systems, and it is through learning from others and bearing witness to their stories, that I begin to live that out.

 

5. Who or what inspires you?

“I hope you come to find that which gives life a deep meaning for you. Something worth living for- maybe even worth dying for- something that energizes you, enthuses you, enables you to keep moving ahead. I can’t tell you what it might be. That’s for you to find, to choose, to love.”- Ita Ford, Maryknoll sister martyred in El Salvador in 1980

featured feminist

Joey Palomba

School & Year: A&S 2015

Major: Chemistry

 

Questions

1. Tell us a little bit about yourself.

I am a home state boy coming all the way from Shrewsbury, MA to BC. I have two awesome parents and a sister who is a year ahead of me at Middlebury College. Most of my free time is spent talking with friends or hanging around with family (including 11 cousins) or riding my bike. It is safe to say I am usually far too busy and far too nerdy for my own good.

 

2. What are you most passionate about?

Most of my energy and passion is directed in three ways: chemistry, cycling, and "extracurricular activities" for lack of a better word. I have been working in a chemistry lab for about a year now and I love it. I am doing my own independent research on efficient and renewable energy and am looking to continue research at the graduate level after BC. As the president of the Club Cycling team (yes, this exists), I find great joy in riding, touring, racing, watching professionals race, talking about bikes, and wearing all sorts of bike gear. As for extracurricular activities, I have grown to love and thrive on my work with Bystander Education Intervention. If you asked me two years ago if I was going to be leading discussions on sexual assault and gender in our culture, I probably would have thought you were crazy, but now I couldn't see myself without it.

 

3. How do you define "feminism"?

To me feminism is the positive lens to look at women in our culture. Through my work I realized that I had been a feminist long before I even knew it. Half (or more than half) of the people in my life that I love are women and to me, wanting what is best for them and all women is the simple act of feminism. I also think that by being conscious of this feminism and acting with it in mind, we do more towards creating an equal gender society.

 

4. Why do you identify yourself as a feminist?

Only more recently have I actually identified myself as a feminist. For most of my life I never really thought about it and when I first started college I thought it was not really me. As a heterosexual, college-age male, I thought well that has nothing to do with me. What I quickly found out, was that it had everything to do with me. Through my work on gender violence I realized what an important issue feminism was. By identifying as a feminist I was saying to the women I work with and present to "I am on your side" and that makes a difference. Not only that but it has helped me figure out where my own gender fits into the picture. My hope is that men realize that feminism is really their business to.

 

5. Who or what inspires you?

There are many people in my life that inspire me, including many mentors. I tend to find male role models wherever I end up and to me the most important of those is my dad. My dad (also Joe Palomba), has always been a caring, hardworking person to look up to. He is someone that is always intentional and always gives more than he takes.

 

featured feminist

Jonathan Barry

School & Year: GSSW '15 A&S '07

Major: Masters in Clinical Social Work with Children, Youth, and Families

 

Questions

1. Tell us a little bit about yourself.

I’m currently spending most of my time studying clinical social work at Boston College.  I also race bikes competitively and meditate for 20 minutes every morning as a way to stay fit and take care of myself.  I work as a graduate assistant in the Freshmen League and as an intern at Friends of the Children Boston where I run a group for 7th graders and am leading a father engagement initiative.

 

2. What are you most passionate about?

I’m most passionate about working with other people to re-vision what it means to be a man for people in our society.  I think dominant norms of masculinity oppress and hurt everyone in different ways based on our gender, race, class, sexuality, ability status, age or religious and cultural background.

 

3. How do you define "feminism"?

The radical belief that people of all genders deserve to be treated as human beings.

 

4. Why do you identify yourself as a feminist?

My experience with feminism was very healing for me and opened up a whole new world for me of what it means to be a human being.  I want to be able to share that perspective with other men and learn how other men experience feminism.  I’m most interested in working with men in groups because I think often times guys base their behavior on what they think other people expect of them.  I think men’s groups can be a space and a tool to shift those collective expectations of what it means to be a man.  I think feminism is an important and powerful voice in the work to shift those expectations.

 

5. Who or what inspires you?

I saw a counselor at University Counseling Services for many years and he unexpectedly passed away recently.   Our relationship helped me to connect to what I am passionate about… to live more truly, with love and warmth.  His grace, humor, caring, and keen insight as a healer and mentor will always be something I look back at fondly and cherish.  I think relationships can be an important gift to each other in this way and I definitely draw inspiration and strength from my friends and loved ones.

featured feminist

Nora Curran

School & Year: A&S 2014

Major: Sociology

Minor: Women and Gender Studies

 

Questions

1. Tell us a little bit about yourself.

I’m from St. Louis, Missouri, the youngest of three, and I love animals. I strive to surround myself with people who are deep thinkers, who are smarter than me, and who have different areas of expertise--I think that’s the best way I learn and improve myself, as well as open myself up to new things. I enjoy meaningful conversations with friends, but I also love, love, love to laugh. My sister is my best friend and people are often fascinated by how similar our mannerisms and voices are. I also love music and am never without my headphones and a spare iPod. Also I’m pretty sure I’m the only person who still uses an iPod.

 

2. What are you most passionate about?

Being a sociology major and an active member on FACES Council, I would have to say I’m most passionate about social justice issues, in any form. I enjoy engaging in conversations about race, gender, class, sexuality, capitalism, and systems of power and privilege. (And of course how they all interact with each other.) FACES has been an endless source of these conversations and has helped me broaden and fine tune the lens I see the world through.

 

3. How do you define "feminism"?

I hear people struggle to define feminism all the time, and I think that struggle is rooted in a deep misunderstanding of what feminism is. I recently heard a definition by Chimamanda Adichie that stuck out to me for its simplicity: “Feminist: a person who believes in the social, political, and economic equality of the sexes.” I don’t think it needs to be any more complicated than that, although I would add equity: As a woman, I don’t want to be treated like a man because I am not one. I simply want to be afforded the same privileges men are.

 

4. Why do you identify yourself as a feminist?

“Because we need to reclaim the ‘feminism.’ We need the word ‘feminism’ back really badly. When statistics come in saying that only 29 percent of American women would describe themselves as feminist--and only 42 percent of British women--I used to think, What do you think feminism IS ladies? What part of ‘liberation of women’ is not for you? Is it freedom to vote? The right not to be owned by the man you marry? The campaign for equal pay? ‘Vogue’ by Madonna? Jeans? Did all that GET ON YOUR NERVES?" This is an excerpt from Caitlin Moran’s book “How to Be a Woman.” This resonates with why I identify as a feminist--because it’s in my best interest too.  But more than that, it’s in the best interest of men for me to identify as one as well. Feminism allows for complex gender expression and allows for us to break free from the chains that are gender roles. Feminism allows us to be individuals, to see each other as individuals, and to treat each other as individuals. As Germaine Greer put it, “The opposite to patriarchy is not matriarchy, but fraternity.”

 

5. Who or what inspires you?

So many things. Music is a big source of my inspiration. Strong women inspire me: my mother, my sister, and pop culture icons such as Amy Poehler, Beyoncé, Tina Fey, and Mindy Kaling. I am also constantly inspired by my fellow FACES council members, whether they know it or not.

featured feminist

Kevin Thompson

School & Year: A&S 2014

Major: Biochemistry

 

Questions

1. Tell us a little bit about yourself.

I’m a pre-med student from central Massachusetts and I really enjoy playing the cello, watching Breaking Bad and Christopher Nolan films, and running. While at BC I have been involved in Habitat for Humanity, Appalachia Program, Eagle EMS, the BC Symphony Orchestra, and Timmy Global Health. I also volunteer at Brigham and Women’s Hospital.

 

2. What are you most passionate about?

I’m passionate about my service. I believe that everyone has the right to equal opportunity and it is our responsibility to make sure that that is a reality. I strongly support any organization that empowers people to help out and tackle today’s most pressing challenges. I have volunteered all over the country and around the world and my passion for service only grows with each trip.

 

3. How do you define "feminism"?

For me, feminism is supporting the equality of women politically, socially, and economically. We live in a sexist society and it is important that we work so one day we can live a world where men and women are equals.

 

4. Why do you identify yourself as a feminist?

I’m a feminist because I believe in the equality of all people. Everyone is entitled to the same basic human rights and it sickens me that there are places where this is not a reality. I believe we need to work towards a gender-just society where everyone is viewed and treated as equals.

 

5. Who or what inspires you?

My parents are my biggest inspiration. They have done so much and have worked so hard to be where they are today. I’m also inspired by my roommates; they all are so passionate and dedicated to their work and clubs.

featured feminist

Molly Boigon

School & Year: LSOE 2016

Major: Applied Psychology and Human Development

Minor: Management and Leadership (CSOM)

 

Questions

1. Tell us a little bit about yourself.

I live in New York City but I also dabble in Chestnut Hill. I’m involved in Jewish life on campus through BC Hillel, I sing with Sharps a Capella, and I have my own talk radio show, The Molly Bean Show, on WZBC-Newton 90.3 FM. I like the beach, mint chocolate chip ice cream, and quality headphones. I dislike sexism. And weak handshakes.

 

2. What are you most passionate about?

I’m most passionate about talking to people. Connecting with other human beings, even if it’s only for two seconds, is so awesome because the conversation could start out so stilted and painful and then you start to reminisce about your awful 5th grade bowl cuts or confess that neither of you actually reads the Terms and Conditions and BOOM you’re friends. And you had something in common the whole time, but it took a conversation to figure that out. That is what I’m most passionate about.

 

3. How do you define "feminism"?

Feminism is based on the belief that women exist and have value outside of the way they are often portrayed, and regardless of what a largely patriarchal world wants from them. It is an understanding that one-size-fits-all is no way to talk or think about human beings.

 

4. Why do you identify yourself as a feminist?

I identify myself as a feminist because I think it’s important for everyone-- not just women-- to think critically about the way they’ve been told to act. I don’t think anyone should have to limit themselves based on what they think they “should” be. I have to remind myself of this all the time.

 

5. Who or what inspires you?

I’m inspired most by my own dreams. I know that sounds weird, but when I’m riding in the car, just daydreaming about all of the great things I could do, that makes me want to go out and do those things. Also, there was a poster in my 5th grade classroom that said, “Shoot for the moon! Even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars!!!” I’m getting inspired just thinking about it.

featured feminist

Griff Stark-Ennis

School & Year: A&S 2014

Major: Communications

 

Questions

1. Tell us a little bit about yourself.

Thanks to my parents and background, I grew up dreaming and I pride myself in my ability to do so. Describing oneself is often too hard to articulate in a small amount of time, but sometimes a quote sums a person up much better. The great Eleanor Roosevelt once said, “The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.” Well I believe in me, because I was born to chase them.

 

2. What are you most passionate about?

I’m passionate about art and all of the forms it educates our senses with, but I especially love movies, fashion and photography.

 

3. How do you define "feminism"?

I would define “feminism” as a woman’s battle to define herself.

 

4. Why do you identify yourself as a feminist?

I consider myself more of an equalist, but nonetheless, I feel that any human being shouldn’t have to be ashamed (in the context of other people) of who they are and what they represent as a puzzle piece within the larger picture that is humanity. 

 

5. Who or what inspires you?

I’m inspired by inspired people and I’m inspired by emotion.

featured feminist

Paul Lee

School & Year: A&S 2014

Major: Economics

 

Questions

1. Tell us a little bit about yourself.

My name is Paul Lee, and I was born in New Jersey, raised in Manhattan, but spent most of my life growing up in the great state of Texas. I have a pretty incredible family, and we’re kind of all over the place - my parents are living in Houston, my older sister is working in fashion in Manhattan, and I’ll be working here in Boston after graduation – so I’m always excited when we get to be together for the holidays, like for the upcoming Thanksgiving break! The past 7 semesters at BC have been awesome for me. I was blessed to have been able to study abroad in Paris last fall and in Bordeaux two summers ago, and I’m loving my time back here at BC. Twice a week this semester, I get to sweat it out with more than 20 other men and women dedicated to staying healthy and fit in my 45 minute indoor cycling classes at the Plex. For the past two years, I’ve been raising money for BC’s Campus School (sign the petition!!!) by running the Boston Marathon, which I plan on doing again this year – all donations are appreciated! I also spend much of my time working to spread the love and spirit of Kairos as a co-director for the retreat – LT4, y’all!

 

2. What are you most passionate about?

I’m very passionate about Beyonce. I can’t help but talk about Beyonce without using language and a reverence that almost seems religious, but someone who has been as dedicated and motivated and driven to pursue their dreams as passionately as She has is absolutely inspiring and pushes me to be the best person I can possibly be in all aspects of my life. I’m passionate about this idea of commitment to success shown through Beyonce’s work, which also explores these ideas of self-empowerment, expressing love for those you’re passionate about, and giving all of yourself to reach your goals, never letting anyone or anything (including social/gender norms) discount your potential. This dedication to excellence has definitely allowed me to relentlessly pursue my own passions and goals, to challenge, and even subvert, any arbitrary or unjust conventions in this pursuit. When She was my age, Beyonce had already released Dangerously in Love, with chart-topping single, Crazy In Love. Whenever I feel any self-doubt or feel like giving up, I honestly remind myself of the passion and commitment it takes to reach your goals; there’s always something that might come up on this path to success, but I realize that keeping your eyes on the prize and maintaining that unshakable devotion can really create change.

 

3. How do you define "feminism"?

Feminism reflects not only the idea of female empowerment, but also the broader idea of relating to and interacting with your fellow human based on the fact that they are human, not their sex or race or any other physical appearance. At our core, I feel that we all seek to be understood by others as we understand ourselves, yet the inescapable pressures of the social system in which we live imposes these gender norms that might alter or influence our very own understanding of our individual selves. More often than not, it’s fairly clear that these gender norms serve as a more oppressive role in women’s lives, preventing many of those who are crushed by these systems from truly actualizing their individuality and reaching their potential. Feminism is recognizing that these norms don’t have to define the inner self and that every female, every human, possesses and thus deserves the opportunity to realize their individual being, and to discover and reach their greatest potential. It is an active rejection of externally constructed and imposed conventions, and it is an embracing of defining the self solely by the self.

 

4. Why do you identify yourself as a feminist?

I would identify as a feminist because I believe that everyone is unique and deserves to realize and share their unique blessings. I feel that those opposed to feminism express similar sentiments that largely serve to perpetuate established gender norms, presumably because feminism seeks to disturb and subvert the comfortable system in which they’ve been living all their lives. While they try to place an entire class of people into a neat box with a defined set of characteristics, a feminist recognizes that a woman, a human, does not have to fit anyone’s idea of how they should exist but their own. Unfortunately because women are so frequently mistreated and face such blind injustice solely based on their sex, I identify as a feminist to support the idea of subverting these baseless norms that too often inhibit an entire demographic of the population from equal treatment and equal success.

 

5. Who or what inspires you?

Besides Beyonce, my parents inspire me the most in my daily life. Having literally no knowledge of English, they immigrated here in the early 1980s with nothing to their name, but with their constant dedication to success, they’ve been able to enjoy their own personal fulfillment of the American Dream. There were certainly a lot of factors working against their success, but they never complained or even thought about giving up. Every time I find myself stressed or think that it’s the end of the world for me, I realize how much harder my parents had to work to even get by, which always puts things in perspective for me and pushes me out of my self-pity. Whenever I think about giving up or feel like forgetting about an obligation, reminding myself of my parents’ own relentless pursuit for success inspires me to get back on track and to always set that bar just a little bit higher; if my parents could find success with everything they had to face, I know that I really have no excuse but to always give 100% and to never settle for less.

featured feminist

Sijin Choi

School & Year: A&S 2017

Major: Political Science

 

Questions

1. Tell us a little bit about yourself.

My name is Sijin Choi and I hail from Queens, NY. I am an advocate of education reform, North and South Korean reunification, and of course feminism. In high school, I was always the kid who loved to question everything and stir debate in class, which some teachers loved and some, quite frankly, abhorred. I came to Chestnut Hill with an open mind and in the future, I plan on returning to South Korea and running for the Presidency there in order to facilitate the fall of the autocratic North Korean regime and free its shackled people.

 

2. What are you most passionate about?

I am most passionate about correcting injustice. And as broad and vague as that may sound, I find it my personal moral obligation to spend my life rectifying the errors of my predecessors to make the world a better place for our children. Whether that injustice is the 90 year old grandmother begging for money on Newbury St. or a friend who is castigated for believing marriage should be reserved for heterosexual couples, I fight injustice of all kinds.

 

3. How do you define "feminism"?

My conception of feminism is different than that of others; I believe women have unique roles that they need to fill, especially in a familial context. So for me, feminism can best be described as the audacious grad student walking down the Heights to class while holding onto her son’s hand.

 

4. Why do you identify yourself as a feminist?

I identify myself as a feminist because growing up I disliked and found it uncomfortable whenever men would try to exert their dominance over their female counterparts. And also because I have a tendency to really appreciate and admire the role women play in my life.

 

5. Who or what inspires you?

Students who work at late night so they can pitch in and help pay the costs of college, the North Korean refugee who risks his/her life to get a foot into the door of a benevolent embassy, the single mother who works three jobs to raise her child, and my grandfather, who walked out of the rubbles of the Korean War and lifted his family out of poverty through hard work and perseverance.

featured feminist

Nan Localio

School & Year: A&S 2014

Major: Sociology

Minor: Hispanic Studies

 

Questions

1. Tell us a little bit about yourself.

I have been a member of the Dance Organization of Boston College since freshman year, and before that, I have been dancing since I could walk.  I find dancing to be the most important creative outlet in my life, as it is in my opinion one of the most personal forms of expression, and therefore allows me to express my individuality and constantly be inspired.  During my college career I have also been active in social service, as this brings meaning to my life and helps me to better understand my spirituality.  I have participated in two Appalachia spring break service trips, and participated in the PULSE service learning program my sophomore year.

I grew up in Philadelphia with my parents and older brother.  I love the outdoors, animals (especially my two dogs), longboarding, vegetarian food, a good book and travelling.

 

2. What are you most passionate about?

I am most passionate about international womens’ health issues.  Health pervades every aspect of life, and yet is so exceedingly neglected in so many parts of the world.  While cultures differ from place to place, good health is a universal human right and necessity.  Poor health burdens one’s access to education, can prevent one from caring for his or her family, and often reduces overall quality of life. I believe that the key to the empowerment of women in developing countries is improved knowledge of personal health and access to healthcare.  Women’s health is particularly important because of the woman’s role of mother, and often, primary caregiver to their children.  With the provision of proper healthcare, communities more sustainable, and are able to focus on other issues besides their health.

I became a member of GlobeMed@BC my freshman year, and feel that through my work with GlobeMed I am making an active difference in the issue I truly care about most.  This year, we hope to raise $7,000 to provide Hepatitis B vaccinations and improved sanitation to communities in rural India. 

 

3. How do you define "feminism"?

I define feminism as the movement to empower women living in a patriarchal society.  This movement can take on so many different forms, and is variable depending on the socioeconomic and cultural context one is examining.  The needs of women are quite different across the globe, however the right to dignity and respect is universal.  Whether it represents the struggle to end domestic violence or the fight for equal wage, feminism is dynamic, all-inclusive and ever changing.  Often people tell me that there is no longer a need for feminism in today’s society, however one need not look far out of his or her comfort zone to find pervasive gender inequality.  Sexism can also sometimes be quite subtle and difficult to identify, as it has been so ingrained into society over the years.  Feminism is often stigmatized, however it is far too complex and fluid a movement to be so easily judged, placed into a box and labeled.  Feminism can take on so many forms, be it the way that one chooses to lead her or his daily life, the convictions one has, or the social activism in which one chooses to participate.

 

4. Why do you identify yourself as a feminist?

I identify myself as a feminist because I am able to see and understand the societal barriers women face and am both frustrated by their presence and confused by their continued existence.  Feminism is a human rights issue, not just a women’s issue.  I believe in equality, and therefore, I believe in feminism.  I believe in the right to one’s own body and the freedom from pejorative stereotypes.  I believe in choice and the opportunity for advancement. I try to live my life in a way that actively reflects these feminist values.

 

5. Who or what inspires you?

My parents, my friends, my teachers and mentors, kindness, natural beauty, and those who work to create positive change in the world

featured feminist

Martin Summers

Department: History Department; African and African Diaspora Studies Program

Classes Taught: Gender and Sexuality in African American History; American Masculinities; History of  Medicine and Public Health in the African Diaspora; Introduction to African Diaspora Studies

 

Questions

1. Tell us a little bit about yourself.


I received my BA in History-Social Sciences Education from Hampton University and my Ph.D. in U.S. History from Rutgers University. I have been teaching at the university-level since 1995, holding jobs at the New Jersey Institute of Technology, University of Oregon, and the University of Texas at Austin. I have been at Boston College since 2009. I was trained as a cultural historian and my early research interests revolved around gender and sexuality in the African American community. Since publishing a book on black middle-class masculinity in the early twentieth century in 2004, I have become interested in the history of medicine. I am currently working on a book on race and mental illness in the 19th and 20th century U.S.

 

2. What are you most passionate about?

I am most passionate about historical research and its ability to provide a usable past. I like to think that spending all that time in the archives will eventually result in a piece of historical scholarship that not only  helps people appreciate the past on its own terms. I hope that it will also encourage people to think about how that past shapes the present and what we can take from the past to create positive, progressive social change. This is also how I approach my teaching.

 

3. How do you define "feminism"?

Feminism, for me, is the fundamental belief in women’s equality. It also means having political solidarity with individuals and movements that advocate for gender equality.

 

4. Why do you identify yourself as a feminist?

I believe in women’s equality and am fully supportive of reproductive freedom, equal pay for equal work, and the right to be free from sexual harassment, among other things.

 

5. Who or what inspires you?

People who challenge the status quo at great risks to themselves inspire me. Amidst all of the anniversaries that we are celebrating now, I am particularly reminded of the great sacrifices made by civil rights activists. More locally, I have been inspired by Boston College Students for Sexual Health and the group’s present and past leaders Lizzie Jekanowski and Chelsea Lennox for their courageous stand for their rights as legal, responsible adults.

 

Photo credited to Edwin Coleman II

featured feminist

Eleanor Sciannella

Class & Year: CSON 2015

Major(s) / Minor(s): Nursing / Hispanic Studies and Faith, Peace, and Justice

 

Questions

1. Tell us a little bit about yourself.

Hi! I am from Maryland, right outside of DC. I play rugby for the women’s club team here at BC and write for the Heights as a columnist. I love my team and love the friends and conversations and experiences I have had here. I am in nursing and am really starting to like clinical care but ultimately want to go into public health.

 

2. What are you most passionate about?

I am really, really in to social justice. Social structures and how they affect day-to-day life and the relationships between different kinds of people has always intrigued me, but I never really knew what to call that or how to talk about it until I got to BC. I took Race, Class, Gender my freshman year and PULSE last year and learned so much about how systems of injustice started and are perpetuated in our society, and while nursing really doesn’t allow me to explore these concepts the way I want to, I hope to use health promotion as a way to bring about change to those oppressive social systems.

 

3. How do you define "feminism"?

Feminism is the social movement for gender equality.

 

4. Why do you identify yourself as a feminist?

I am a feminist because in order to promote racial justice, or work against heteronormativity, or fight poverty, I have to also understand and deconstruct gender norms and the oppressive systems that they perpetuate. The same is true of the reverse- in order to promote gender equality I also have to understand how the above systems affect gender norms and gender discrimination. Feminism is not just about women’s rights and women’s issues- it’s about understanding how gender norms and societal structures create inequality and deconstructing those norms to promote the rights and wellbeing of everybody. A lot of people get deterred from using the label ‘feminist’ because of the stigma and stereotypes attached to the term, but I think that what every movement needs is unity, and I do not want to fragment myself from the feminist movement because of stigma. Feminism is about deconstructing societal norms- why not deconstruct the feminist stereotype while we’re at it?

 

5. Who or what inspires you?

Learning about oppressive systems can make you feel pretty helpless sometimes, but I look to my friends and some of my peers who really get why these injustices exist and who plan on doing what they can to undo those systems, or will succeed despite them. There are a lot of opportunities to effect change and when I surround myself with people who believe that and I learn to work with them to do that then that gives me a lot of hope.

featured feminist

R. Darrell Peterson

Department:  Office of Graduate Student Life

 

Questions

1. Tell us a little bit about yourself.

I currently serve as director of the Office of Graduate Student Life here at BC.  I am originally from Connecticut, but also grew up in Virginia, which I consider to be my home.  I have one older brother and I am the proud uncle of two nephews, Gabriel (almost 3) and Riley (5 months), whom I completely love and adore.  I have a B.A. in communication and a M.Ed. in counseling psychology/college student personnel administration from James Madison University, and a Ph.D. in educational leadership and policy from Iowa State University.  I enjoy horror movies, good music of all genres, chunky peanut butter, and chocolate (separately or together!).

 

2. What are you most passionate about?

I am most passionate about my family and my career.  Without the love and support of my mother, brother, extended family and good friends, I would not have been able to reach the many goals that I have set for myself.  I love the work that I do because it affords me the opportunity to work with some of the best and brightest students in the country.  I truly enjoy supporting them and encouraging them on their journey toward degree completion. 

 

3. How do you define "feminism"?

I would define feminism as the belief that women and girls should be empowered to become their very best selves in environments free of discrimination, prejudice, and bias that could place limitations on their ability to succeed.  I believe feminism involves the advocacy for social, political, and economic equality in support of women’s rights and interests.

 

4. Why do you identify yourself as a feminist?

This question made me chuckle a bit when I read it because it reminded me of an incident that took place during my doctoral program at Iowa State.  One of the male students in my qualitative research methods class said that he considered himself to be a feminist.  Our professor, who is very well known for her research and activism on women’s issues, quickly corrected him by stating that as a man he could be an ally and supporter, but he could NOT be a feminist!  She definitely made her point!

 

We still live in a world where women and girls are denied opportunities, taken advantage of, and treated as second-class citizens.  These unacceptable injustices hit very close to home for me both as a person of color, and as a male child raised by a very strong, independent single mother.  I recognize that there are numerous privileges that are available to me simply because I just so happened to have been born a male.  Until there is equal opportunity for all, we as a people will never truly be free.   

 

5. Who or what inspires you?

I continue to be inspired by my mother, who taught me the value of hard work, respect for others, and the importance of assisting those in need.  She grew up on a farm in the segregated South, during a time when opportunities for little Black girls like her were incredibly limited.  She barely finished high school because she had to work on the farm during much of the school year.  She was the oldest of four children (three girls and one boy) and in those days, girls worked just as hard in the fields as boys did (if not, harder!)  Her first dream was to join the military, but my grandfather said no.  In those days, when your parent said no, the case was closed, with no questions asked.  Her second dream was to become a nurse, but at that time, she did not have the support or financial resources to continue her education.  Ultimately she became a nurse’s aide, and dedicated her life to providing care and compassion for the elderly.  Each day she would put on her uniform and go to work for 8-10 hours, sometimes for 7 days straight, without a day off.  My mother modeled a strong work ethic, passion for her work, and a commitment to serving others.  She always believed in me and encouraged me to believe that I could do anything I set my mind to.  My mother has overcome unimaginable hardships and made incredible sacrifices just so my brother and I could have something better.  My mother continues to be an inspiration to me, and I dedicate any and all my achievements to her.  

featured feminist

Marilynn Johnson

Department: History

Classes taught: US History Since 1877; Social Action in America (a service learning course); History of the American West, and Reel Life: American Workers in History and Film, among others.

 

Questions

1. Tell us a little bit about yourself.

 I’m originally from Long Island but moved to California to attend college at Stanford University. After graduation, I worked for a peace movement magazine and then went to NYU to do graduate work in US history. For ten summers, I was also a park ranger at Crater Lake, Yellowstone, and Yosemite National Parks. In 1990, I got my first teaching job at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, where I taught for four years before moving to Boston College. I’ve been at BC for 18 years now and live in Brookline with my husband, son, and dog, and I also have a daughter in college.

 

2. What are you most passionate about?

All of my research has dealt with migration and social movements, either in US cities or in the American West. I’m fascinated by how and why people move to new places and how they adapt to and fight for inclusion in their new homes. On the personal side, I love long distance swimming, cycling, hiking, cooking, and going to the movies. I also work as a mentor for college-bound students in the Boston Public Schools through Hyde Square Task Force in Jamaica Plain.

 

3. How do you define "feminism"?

For me, feminism is a belief in the equality of the sexes and the socially constructed nature of gender. This does not mean that women and men are the same, and it assumes that both women and men can be feminists.

 

4. Why do you identify yourself as a feminist?

 Initially, I learned about feminism in the classroom, but once I entered the workforce, I experienced sexism firsthand. Understanding feminist theory helped me make sense of both the personal and structural forces that women face, and being part of a community of women in academia gave me a vital support network that helped me survive and succeed.

 

5. Who or what inspires you?

In my first book, I wrote about the women of my mother’s generation who left farms and small towns to go work in shipyards, airplane factories, and defense plants during World War II. These women inspired me with their strength and resilience, which was still evident forty years later.  These days, I’m inspired by students in my Social Action class who do volunteer work at homeless shelters, youth programs, ESL classes, union organizing campaigns, prison education programs, and other vital services in the Boston area. The fact that some of them go on to run these kinds of programs makes me feel like what we do here at BC really does make a difference.

featured feminist

Professor Rhonda Frederick

Department: English, and African & African Diaspora Studies (AADS)

Classes Taught: Graduate and undergraduate English courses, undergraduate courses in AADS, one graduate course co-taught for the MIT Graduate Consortium

 

Questions

1. Tell us a little bit about yourself.

I was born in Panama, child of parents born in Panama, grandchild of grandparents born in St. Lucia and Jamaica. I was raised in US cities up and down the east coast, mainly NJ.

 

2. What are you most passionate about?

Music, books, travel, learning everything I can learn.

 

3. How do you define "feminism"?

I am a child of women who know/knew how to care of business; these women form the basis of what I know about women’s possibilities and strengths (in and out of adverse situations).  I was shocked when I began to meet women who were not as “take charge” as those in my family!  “What’s wrong with these women?” I thought. “Why aren’t they handling their business (with regard to work, family, and/or relationships)?”  I was practically an adult before I learned about adversities that can prevent women from achieving the authority I saw regularly in my own family.  So, when I think about myself with regard to feminist beliefs and practices, I think about them from this perspective: I’m my mother’s daughter, and my aunts’ niece, my grandmothers’ granddaughter, and my cousins’ cousin.  My “feminism,” therefore, means using the knowledge of my matriarchs, “packaging” it, and learning how to share it with others.

 

4. Why do you identify yourself as a feminist?

Because of my history and family; that’s the only way I know how to be!

 

5. Who or what inspires you?

My female ancestors, the men who support/supported them, my friends, and the people who I love.

featured feminist

Molly Holden

School & Year: A&S 2014

Major: Theology

Minor: Faith, Peace, and Justice

 

Questions

1. Tell us a little bit about yourself.

I grew up in Wichita, Kansas but Boston has definitely become my second home. I love to hike, run, play tennis, eat Thai food and travel to new places. I have three younger siblings and two dogs—Larry Bird and Lucy. I studied abroad in Arusha, Tanzania my junior year and am planning to return to East Africa as soon as soon as possible. While at BC I have performed in the Good Body and am directing this year’s show with my best friend. I currently work at the BC Center for Human Rights and International Justice as the undergraduate research assistant and I volunteer with Bridge International Academies, a Boston area NGO that provides low cost education service to primary schools in Kenya.

 

2. What are you most passionate about?

I am most passionate about service.   At BC we are called to be men and women for others. I believe true service must happen by interacting people in their real social, political and economic context. The amazing thing about service is how it highlights our common humanity rather than our differences. Service has the ability to remove barriers and stigmas that prevent individuals from reaching their true potential.  Through service we can discover the goodness in others and ourselves.

 

3. How do you define "feminism"?

For me, feminism is all about equality. Feminism seeks to ensure equal rights for all people regardless of sex or gender, and challenges normal conceptions of how society is structured. Feminism is also a call to action.  Feminism requires action from us—for us to actively confront and examine the structures of oppression present in society that hinder all people (both women and men) from achieving equality and recognition of their full humanity.

 

4. Why do you identify yourself as a feminist?

I am a feminist because I do not know how not to be one. For me, being a feminist is synonymous with being a loving, mindful and considerate human. I am a feminist because in equality. I am a feminist because women are still under-represented at the decision-making levels of society. I am a feminist because everyday women around the world are victims of gender-based violence. I am a feminist because both men and women are harmed by societal expectations and gender stereotypes. I am a feminist because I want to actively challenge the patriarchy.

 

5. Who or what inspires you?

I am inspired my mom and dad who are the two greatest people I know. They have given me so much.

I am inspired by the Jesuits and the teachings of St. Ignatius that promote goodness, equality, truth and love. 

Finally, I am inspired by my amazing friends who give me energy and love without fail.

featured feminist

Emily Barko

Department: Boston College Graduate Department of Sociology

Classes Taught: Gender and Society; Introduction to Sociology

 

Questions

1. Tell us a little bit about yourself.

 While I presently live in the BC campus vicinity, I originally hail from Shrewsbury, MA, where I grew up with one sibling (who is also a BC alum).  Prior to my current doctoral studies, I received a B.A. from Bates College in Sociology and Women and Gender Studies, and more recently, a M.A. in Sociology at Boston College in route to completing my Ph.D. 

Some of my research interests include: health and illness, critical race feminism, social psychology, and qualitative research methods.  Most broadly, the focus of my dissertation work surrounds social constructions and negotiations of anorexia nervosa and processes of recovering.

Alongside my graduate work at BC, I have also held the tremendous privilege of working with the WRC over the last few years with campaigns such as “Love Your Body” and “Take Back the Night,” as well as through the role as a facilitator for weekly drop-in groups, including (the former) HOPE group (Healthy Options for the Pressures of Eating)—and most currently, UNSAID, one of the newest groups the join the WRC weekly lineup, and described as “an informal weekly discussion group, which aims to explore the unspoken and unrealistic expectations of ‘health’ and ‘beauty’ here at Boston College.”

Also of note, is that I can often be spotted on campus with my Chihuahua, Bella.  While Bella often keeps company with my fellow Sociology graduate student comrades in our department lounge, he has also been know to attend a few lectures here and there (sometimes on his own).

 

2. What are you most passionate about?

I am most passionate about passion; by this I mean value for ceaselessly searching for, finding, and/or celebrating passion. 

I once had a high school teacher ask me what I thought the meaning of life was.  After refection, my answer was that the meaning of life was to find meaning—to find passion and to be passionate, to live a life where each morning you could wake up with a desire for at least one thing to do, and/or someone to see.   

I since think of my answer on days where passion can feel blunted—or buried too deep under adversities.  As such, I’ve long been a big fan of hope—hope for change or for better; and I think it’s passion, (e.g. passion for creative and critical thinking and inquiry; for friends and family; for animal companions and their unconditional love and excitement for the very fact you are alive (or have merely returned home); for most objects and accessories shiny/glittery or otherwise sparkly; and for unexpected discoveries of music/art/literature that seem to tell parts of your own life story when you don’t yet have the language. 

One of my favorite quotes is Henry David Thoreau’s (1817-1862), “The price of anything is the amount of life you exchange for it.”  If ever I forget or doubt the value of passion, I think here to Thoreau. 

 

3. How do you define "feminism"?

 For me, feminism is advocacy for equality of opportunity for all people—not bolstered or blocked by one’s positionality (e.g. of gender, race, class, sexual orientation, and so forth).  When trying to explain my approach to feminism, (especially if in a context of sometimes hesitant listeners who may connect the term feminism to stigmatized and stereotypical conceptualizations of feminism)—I, at a very basic level, echo Hillary Clinton’s sentiments from the United Nations World Conference on Women (1995), that “women’s rights are human rights and human rights are women’s rights”—and subsequently, in 2011 (in Geneva), that “gay rights are human rights and human rights are gay rights.”   In short, feminism for me is a belief in, and movement for, greater social justice at large, typified by the right to be a human and to be invested with (often taken-for-granted) human rights.

 

4. Why do you identify as a feminist?

As early as middle school (1990s), I was overtly describing myself as a feminist.  However, at this time, my understanding of feminism was more of a “girls can do anything boys can do” philosophy.  Looking back, I think being a competitive child athlete, who often played on all-boys athletic teams, inspired much of this sentiment.  (My mother was the first woman at her college to play on their men’s soccer team back in the 1970s.  Women’s soccer didn’t even exist at the college level yet).  Likewise, there was never a question that my dad would teach both my brother and I to throw a football or swing a baseball bat.  Thus, if sports were primarily “for boys” I would learn through certain levels of socialization—then I thought in response, “I could be just as good as ‘one of the boys.’” 

In accord, I remember asking my 7th grade History teacher questions as to why there were no women in our book or discussions—and English teacher, why “he” and “man” were supposed to be gender-neutral or universal terms when they weren’t.  Similarly, when teachers were to ask for “big strong boys” to help carry heavy books (and like jobs)—I was the first to ask about the “boy” qualification in recruitment—and then be sure to perform the job of heavy lifting with aplomb.  With all this said however, much of my focus on feminism was limited to gender—and conceptualization of strength largely dominated by an (androcentric) physical.

It wasn’t until college that I began to understand how setting “boys” or any group as the paradigm for another group to emulate was so problematic.  Moreover, prior to my “third wave” understandings of feminism(s), I failed to ask critical questions about who, historically (and presently), has or has not been entitled to a “feminist” voice—and consequently, how earlier forms of feminism were particularly exclusionary under an illusive (often racist, classist , and heterosexist) monolithic voice of and for women. 

In short, I never inquired as to which women, which women do these forms of feminism work to empower and/or disempower—or only empower some by virtue of disempowering others.  (Of course time itself, and third wave and beyond feminisms have not been a panacea for exclusionary politics—but progress is alive and well, loud and proud!)

Today, my both expanded (yet simultaneously refined) thinking about feminism, is underscored by Martin Luther King Jr’s (1963) celebrated declaration, that  “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”  This is why, I contend, everyone should care about feminism (however conceptualized in relation to greater social justice).

 

 5. Who or what inspires you?

While this might sound trite (coming from a graduate student), I find myself inspired by many of my professors and my students (past and present).  The illuminating and empowering potential of education that I felt, beginning as an undergraduate student (amid a backdrop of potent personal struggles), became a vital lifeline, and helped set in motion the tectonic shift necessary to unearth my many aforementioned passions, as well as to re-conceptualize strength, and self—and feminism—all as inextricably linked.

 

So many of my professors, who helped lead this life-saving charge, (most without even knowing), is what inspired me to want to teach myself.  In addition, now in the role as college Instructor, I find myself constantly inspired by my own students.   The many perceptible “aha moments” I often see on students faces and hear them verbalize or write (often contagious, even to me)—makes me feel grateful for the beginnings of greater social change that feel finally here—and in concert, hopeful for all that is always still to come.  

featured feminist

Patrick Donovan

School and Year: GSSW 2014

Major(s): Global Practice/Hispanic-Latino Track

 

Questions

1. Tell us a little bit about yourself.

I have a beautiful 2-year-old son (so I pull all-nighters even when I don’t have homework), and being a father has been the most difficult and most joyful experience of my life.  I met my wonderful wife during my junior year of undergrad, and we have been together for thirteen years and married for seven.

 

2. What are you most passionate about?

I first got involved with feminism as a freshman at B.U. and continued post-college through my work at a rape crisis center and two domestic violence agencies.  I have worked as a counselor and an advocate, but I have specialized in prevention and youth empowerment.  I have focused my work on marginalized groups, especially GLBTQ and immigrant communities.  I am bilingual in Spanish and am excited to be part to the GSSW’s Hispanic/Latino track.

I try to practice self-care through playing with my son and hanging out with my wife and friends.  I also use humor, music, reading, zombie movies, and zen gardening.

 

3. How do you define “feminism”?

Feminism is the radical idea that women are people.  Everyone is equal regardless of gender.  Recognizing and working for this equality are radical acts, because countless subtle privileges and oppressions attempt to perpetuate a world where men have power over women.

 I identify feminism as a call and a responsibility to men as much as to women.  For example, rape and intimate partner abuse are often labeled “women’s issues” but really are predominantly men’s violence against women.  Yet we know that the abusers are a small percentage of the male population, so the question for men is: Are we going to be silent and allow abusive men to claim to speak for all men, or are we going to speak out and act with our friends and our communities to create relationships of respect?  That path of action and respect is feminism.

 

4. Why do you identify yourself as a feminist?

When I was in high school, I was lucky to have a young woman as my best friend.  As Toni Morrison’s character Sixo said, “It’s good to have a woman who is a friend of your mind.  She gather me, man.  The pieces I am, she gather them and give them back to me in all the right order.”  One day this friend visited my all-male Catholic school to act in a play, and I found her in tears because of the sexual harassment there.  That was when I began to recognize sexist treatment and its impact on women in my life.

 When I got to college, I joined the B.U. Women Center and helped organize Take Back the Night.  What I did not realize until the night of the event was that my friends in Women Center had their own stories to share on the microphone, stories of rape, dating violence, and other forms of abuse.  For me, they transformed feminism from a solely political issue into a personal cause with names and faces and stories.

 Male privilege depends in part on men not recognizing the harms to women that create the advantages that men assume are based on merit.  Once that illusion has been broken, the oppression and violence cannot be unseen. Now, through my family, my friends, and my work, I have borne witness to hundreds and hundreds of stories of abuse and survival.  But I’ve also seen how feminism can liberate the voices and agency of young women and men to fight back against the patriarchy and to create real, life-saving change with their loved ones and their communities.  I am a feminist to create a world where my loved ones - especially women and girls - are safe and respected, and to pass a better world on to my son.

 

5. Who or what inspires you?

Feminists, like the Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan (RAWA), who organize in deeply misogynist, patriarchal societies inspire me.  I love to learn not only about current struggles, but also about our (repressed) history of feminist and social justice movements.  I am inspired not so much by the leaders and heroines, but more by the myriad individual activists who have fought and sacrificed to change the world.  Their stories inspire me. My feminist mentors, especially Jen Adler who trained me in rape crisis counseling, inspire me to continue growing in the movement.

Music and poetry were central to raising my feminist awareness and sustaining me through hard times (and through Boston rush hour).  Artists like Ani Difranco, Aya de Leon, Bikini Kill, and Fuga are all close to my heart.

I am inspired by the survivors and loved ones with whom I have worked or lived.  I am amazed and humbled by human beings who have endured atrocities and injustice from those they trusted, and yet have endeavored to heal and to create lives of amazing creativity, happiness, and love.

 Finally, I am inspired by the adolescent peer leaders with whom I have worked.  I have learned from them how to put my beliefs into action, how to self-reflect and self-change, and how to bridge the gap between the worlds in which we live and the worlds we want to create.

featured feminist

Abbey Clark

School and Year: LSOE 2014

Major(s): Human Development & English

 

Questions

1. Tell us a little bit about yourself.

I'm a rising senior originally from Southold, NY: a small town on the Eastern end of Long Island. I am a yoga instructor and the co-president of the only all female a cappella group on campus: The BC Sharps. Some of my favorite things to do are spending time with my family and friends, baking, and traveling.  

 

2. What are you most passionate about?

Healthy Lifestyles: mentally, physically, emotionally, the whole deal. I think there are so many times that we can get caught up in the stress of our daily lives and forget to take care of ourselves. 

 

 

3. How do you define “feminism”?

I strongly believe that feminism is not exclusive to women. It has become this taboo word that women are afraid to use in fear that they will be declared men-haters. Far from it. It simple means believing in the power of the every day progressive woman and sticking up for a woman's rights...men can do that too. 

 

4. Why do you identify yourself as a feminist?

I've been privileged to have such strong female role models in my life that have taught me that even my wildest dreams are within reach. The current women and alumnae in The Sharps have been a constant source of support and inspiration for myself and women everywhere. I have witnessed that women are capable of ANYTHING they put their minds to. In addition, I am starting a local chapter of the nonprofit organization I AM THAT GIRL at Boston College this Fall...something that I never thought would become a reality! 

 

5. Who or what inspires you?

Alexis Jones, the founder of nonprofit I AM THAT GIRL, never ceases to inspire me. She built such an amazing organization out of a passion to change the way women relate to one another.  I also find inspiration in simple every day events, such as the small and kind things that people do for each other always puts a smile on my face. 


featured feminist

Patrick Reynolds-Berry

School and Year: STM/GSSW 2014

 

Questions

1. Tell us a little bit about yourself.

I was born and raised in Cincinnati, Ohio. I am Jesuit educated through and through. This Fall I will be entering my 14th consecutive year of either studying and/or working in a Jesuit institution. Before coming to Boston College I was a Jesuit Volunteer in Nicaragua, teaching at a Fe y Alegría school, a project of the Jesuits of Latin America.  I am currently in my third year of a dual-degree graduate program in pastoral ministry and clinical social work. I am also entering my third year as graduate assistant for the Global Service and Justice Program.

 

2. What are you most passionate about?

Academically, I am very interested in the intersection of spirituality and clinical social work. In my social work studies I have found that spirituality can be an overlooked strength and resource available to those we serve. I am also passionate about the outdoors. I love hiking, camping, kayaking, and generally anything taking place outside. I am interested in adventure therapy as a means of engaging young people in positive growth. I would like to explore ways of integrating adventure therapy into my pastoral ministry and social work practice.

 

3. How do you define “feminism”?

My understanding of feminism is influenced by important women in my own life. They have shared their own experiences of what it is like for them as women. Through her words and actions, my mom has taught me that feminism is about a person’s struggle to be oneself, even if society tells you to be someone you are not. Breaking society’s stereotypical gender expectations is at the heart of what feminism means for me. No one should feel forced to do something or be someone they are not simply because of their gender. 

 

4. Why do you identify yourself as a feminist?

I have had a number of opportunities to come face to face with my privilege as a straight White man, especially during my time living in Central America. As a man it is important for me to consider my own privilege and to be cognizant of the ways I participate in and benefit from a society that is both heteronormative and androcentric. There are still so many ways people are pressured to live false lives because of family, church, or societal expectations. I have found that in my life and work it is always best to never assume where someone is coming from, but rather to hear their story in their own words, and to meet them where they are at.

 

5. Who or what inspires you?

My partner, Allison, and I were married in August. She is an amazing, inspiring, strong, and compassionate woman. Allison is a community organizer in Waltham, Massachusetts, working and organizing for the prevention of domestic violence through creative engagement with the community. She is working at a community level to change a culture of violence, machismo, power, and control. She is a constant inspiration to me.

 

featured feminist

Chelsea Lennox

School and Year: A&S 2014

Major(s): Psychology/Pre-Med Track

 

Questions

1. Tell us a little bit about yourself.

Let’s see, I’m a senior (which is unreal) from Upstate New York.  Right now, I’m tentatively planning on what I’m going to do with myself for the gap year I plan on taking once I graduate. I’m a Cancer, born in a year of the Monkey, I’m constantly embarrassing my Mod-mates (they love it)…

 

2. What are you most passionate about?

I’ve always enjoyed learning and for quite sometime I’ve been really interested in healthcare.  Women’s and sexual health have been the areas in which I’ve been able to do the most advocacy, although I’m also a sucker for individual cases of medical oddities and rare pathologies. 

 

3. How do you define “feminism”?

My best friend Becca gave me a t-shirt for Christmas that says, “Feminism is the radical notion that women are people.”  It’s perfect.  It’s how I often explain feminism to people who say they don’t support it.  Feminism just means that people are people.  They should be treated with the respect that comes along with being a fellow human being, despite individual differences.

 

4. Why do you identify yourself as a feminist?

I grew up doing “boy” things and liking “boy” stuff.  I never really understood why what I liked wasn’t “right” for me as a girl.  Through school I started to notice boys were treated differently (read: favorably) in my technology and math classes.  Early on, I knew I could compete with them.  I can do whatever I put my mind to.  No one can tell me not to try and reach my goals just because of my gender.

 

5. Who or what inspires you?

Have you ever met Lizzie Jekanowski? Enough said. Aforementioned best friend, Becca, is also the wisest and most compassionate human being I’ve ever met.  She’s younger than me, but I still want to be more like her when I grow up.

featured feminist

Evan Goldstein

School and Year: A&S 2016

Major(s): Political Science; Theology

Minor(s): History; Women and Gender Studies

 

Questions

1. Tell us a little bit about yourself.

I’m a sophomore who likes Broadway music, stand-up comedy and Twitter (@egoldstein93!).  I used to think I wanted to go into business, but then I spent two consecutive weeks one summer watching The West Wing and now my main goal in life is to be as similar to Josh Lyman as humanly possible.  I’m also fascinated by religion, even though I’m not religious myself, and have really enjoyed learning about Jesus and Catholicism at BC.  I Tweet far more than I should and am basically banking on finding a career where that becomes a valuable skill (so far so good!).  Above all, I’m a Starbucks addict who loves nothing more than getting coffee with cool people. 

 

2. What are you most passionate about?

I’m passionate about pursuing social justice by exposing and criticizing the forces of oppression that affect us all.  It’s so disturbing how much unfairness exists in our society, and how powerless some people feel to effect positive change.  I’m passionate about speaking, as Jesus did, for the marginalized, so that nobody can be left behind or dehumanized by society.  On a lighter note, I’m incredibly passionate about The Daily Show, Modern Family and Parks & Recreation.

 

3. How do you define “feminism”?

Feminism, as suffragist Rebecca West has said, “is the radical notion that women are people.”  But beyond belief in essential equality, I think feminism has an activist component; feminism can’t just recognize the oppressive elements of our patriarchal society, it has to actively expose and subvert them.  Nobody should be limited in life by their sexual assignment and to truly liberate people (women and men) from gendered perceptions of their nature, it takes more than a court decision about abortion or a fair pay law; it takes a full-scale reaction to that which binds us and a firm refusal to be limited by antiquated and unrealistic conventions. 

 

4. Why do you identify yourself as a feminist?

I began to identify as a feminist when my then-girlfriend showed me the documentary Miss Representation, which explores how women are depicted in the media and the ramifications that media portrayal has young women and men.  It struck me that these are not “women’s issues” and labeling them as such simply gives men permission to trivialize or ignore them.  As a recent WC panelist and BC grad noted, patriarchy binds us all, and feminism is a movement that allows me to explore and fight the gendered forces that have affected my own life, as well as pursue a society wherein gender identity is liberating, not limiting.  Feminism has helped me see how gendered ideals have influenced my worldview and what can be done to fight oppressive patriarchy.

 

5. Who or what inspires you?

I’m constantly inspired by the fact that our mission is never finished.  I’m inspired because too many people go hungry in America and not enough people have access to quality medical care.  I’m inspired because too many people are raped in America and not enough rapists see the inside of a prison cell.  I’m inspired because your birthplace should not determine your opportunities, because your sex should not impact the way you’re treated, because America should be a place where hard work pays off.  I’m inspired because somewhere, somebody will go to sleep tonight not knowing where their next meal is coming from, and that is unacceptable.  I’m inspired by the many blessings I’ve received, the wonderful people who surround me and the magnitude of the task at hand.  I’m inspired by Jesus, by Derek Jeter, by Tupac.  I’m inspired by plenty of things; mostly by the knowledge that we can do better, if only we insist on it. 

featured feminist

Professor Philip Browning Helsel

 

Department: School of Theology and Ministry


Classes Taught: Intro to Pastoral Care & Counseling (A Narrative Approach); Trauma & Addiction; Integrating Faith, Counseling, and Services of Justice

 

Questions

1. Tell us a little bit about yourself.

I was born in Bangkok, Thailand and spent the first ten years of my life there before relocating to Indiana. An ordained Minister in the Presbyterian Church (USA)--we've been ordaining women clergy since 1953 and ordaining openly gay and lesbian clergy in the last two years--I've worked in general hospitals, psychiatric hospitals, and hospices, as well as providing congregational care. My wife Carolyn Browning Helsel is an ordained pastor who is going to be a professor of preaching (She's completing her Ph.D. through Emory University and studying racism and preaching). We have two small children aged six and three. We enjoy birding, gardening, and playing music together.

 

2. What are you most passionate about?

I'm most passionate about helping persons whose lives have been limited by narrow or stereotypical stories to find their voice and challenge their oppression. This takes a lot of forms for me, whether advocating for LGBT issues, helping people voice experiences of grief that have been silenced (such as oppression, trauma, and racism), or helping people find a community of supportive others and use these persons as a support (sometimes these people are mentors from the past, figures from school, work or church, or even fictional characters). I think that life is the short time that we have to learn to love and care for each other so I am passionate about helping persons remove the obstacles to love in their lives and find God in the midst of their passionate connection to each other, to themselves, and to the world. Life is a mystery! 

 

3. How do you define “feminism”?

I guess the first thing that comes to mind is the challenging of patriarchy:  the system of taken-for-granted privilege that you can experience if you find yourself granting more authority to someone with a male voice, for example. I think that patriarchy is a system of exclusion and control that has both men and women trying to fit into boxes and thus it is painful for men and women and needs to be challenged (of course it has more practically painful consequences for women such as differences in pay, rape, and domestic violence). I think that feminism increasingly means global feminisms in which one's marginalization as a woman may be combined with a marginal ethnic, social, or sexual orientation position. Feminism is about finding what is worth living about life in the midst of oppression and working for the good in all these circumstances and thus living life to the fullest. 

 

4. Why do you identify yourself as a feminist?

I think as a man I am always in a position of unconsciously being given power and reproducing patriarchy. I could not claim the term 'feminist' as a stable identifier that spoke for who I am but I certainly would be grateful and relieved if I acted in a way that seemed feminist at times with ongoing help from women who inspire and challenge me.

 

5. Who or what inspires you?

The Psalms of lament, slave accounts, yoga-reflexology-Reiki-Tai'Chi; my wife, my children. 

featured feminist

Alex Mangione

School and Year: A&S 2014

Major: English

Minor: Women and Gender Studies

Questions

1. Tell us a little bit about yourself.

I was born and raised in central New Jersey, and I’m a big fan of music, Russian novels, Woody Allen movies, and good hugs. While at BC I’ve been a part of ALC as a part of the Initiative Programming branch and Diversity and Inclusion, I’ve been a tutor at the Online Writing Lab, and I write for a BC publication called The Rock. I also volunteer as a medical advocate at the Boston Area Rape Crisis Center and tutor ESL students around the area in English and writing.

2. What are you most passionate about?

I’m passionate about the written word and its incredible ability to move and influence people all over the world. I feel the same way about music. Even more, I’m passionate about being an advocate for people, no matter their race, gender, age, sexual orientation, or anything else for that matter. It has been such a rewarding experience to meet so many different types of people while in college and find such joy in appreciating and embracing their different qualities.

 

3. How do you define “feminism”?

I think people tend to wrongly categorize feminism as a practice of putting down domestic pursuits or bashing men. However, it’s important to remember that originally, being a feminist meant supporting political, social, legal, and economic opportunities for women, and that’s exactly what it means today. Feminism is fighting for social justice and for the humanization of all individuals and I see it as a natural component to being a human being.

 

4. Why do you identify yourself as a feminist?

I’m a feminist because I’m a human being. I’m a feminist because I’m aware of the sexism in our society, and I want a gender-just and humane society. I’m a feminist because it is a fact that women around the world still do not have basic human rights. I’m a feminist because by some crazy notion, some people still don’t believe that a woman’s body is her own. I’m a feminist because it makes me sick when people blame victims of rape or sexual abuse rather than blaming their aggressors. Most importantly, I’m a feminist because I know that a person’s sex, gender, and sexuality do not determine his/her humanity.

I think it’s also important to realize that a lack of feminism is not only destructive and oppressive for women, but for men as well. As human beings we need to want respect and equality for each other and we need to want rights for one another, no matter who we are or where we come from. Maybe equal rights for women won’t be realized in my lifetime, but it is my responsibility and our responsibility as human beings to continue to fight for these rights just as the women and men before us did. I have an incredible amount of respect and I will forever be grateful for the women who came before me and fought for me to have the right to vote, the right to have an education, and basically the right to be an equal human being.

 

5. Who or what inspires you?

My mom – she’s the strongest woman I know. My dad – he always tells me that the most important thing is to have a good head and a good heart, and that’s something I always carry with me. Also my family, everyone at BARCC, music, art, nature, positive thinkers, & my good friends.

featured feminist

Troy Talkington

Office of Residential Life

Questions

1. Tell us a little bit about yourself.

I am a transplant from the Midwest where I attended the University of St. Francis as an undergraduate student and absolutely loved it.  I grew up in a small town and decided change would be good so I took a chance and went to Loyola University Chicago for my graduate program.  While at Loyola I started looking at social justice issues and worked with the Department of Diversity and Multicultural Affairs to implement a program for men to examine masculinity.  Those experiences had a huge impact on my life and shaped who I am today, which is why I love working with college students.

2. What are you most passionate about?

In the past few years I have become passionate about creating social change for a better world.  It sounds cheesy but that thought keeps me energized.  I did not know what social justice really meant until I went to Loyola and as graduation approached, I decided to seek positions at other Jesuit schools so I could continue to work at a place with a focus on social justice.  I spend most of my time looking at gender and masculinity but am interested in all aspects of social justice.

 

3. How do you define “feminism”?

I define feminism as the belief that opportunities and experiences should be equitable regardless of gender and requires working within your circles of influence to make that belief a reality.  Without action it is just an idea.  Of course there are differences between men and women but there shouldn’t be differences in opportunity.  I would also argue that the perceived differences in gender are much greater than actual differences.

 

4. Why do you identify yourself as a feminist?

Like many people, feminism was almost a dirty word that had a different meaning to me because I never really thought about it.  Once I discovered the true meaning of the word I realized I should have always been a feminist – the difference for me was knowledge and experience which I am now putting into action.  Merely believing in something isn’t enough when it comes to justice – action is required.

 

5. Who or what inspires you?

I am inspired by many things.  I am inspired by people who are willing to take a chance and do something they were told was impossible.  I am inspired by random acts of kindness, stories of people overcoming adversity, or selfless acts of service.  I am inspired by people who believe in a better world and work towards creating one.

featured feminist

Tami Schonfeld

School and year: LSOE 2014

Questions

1. Tell us a little bit about yourself.

My name is Tami and I am from a small town outside of Los Angeles, CA. I love the sunshine and especially enjoy hiking and bike riding on the boardwalk in Newport Beach, CA. I am a huge TaySwift fan and you can usually find me eating copious amounts of pineapple (Dole being my favorite). At BC, I keep busy as a member of the SPLASH E-board, Gender Empowerment Coordinator in UGBC, and 4Boston volunteer at the Boston Chinatown Neighborhood Center.  I love the beach and spent last semester abroad in Sydney, Australia studying at the University of New South Wales.

 

2. What are you most passionate about?

I am most passionate about education. I truly believe that every individual deserves access to a good quality education with passionate, driven, and well-informed teachers. My passion can be seen through my work in a classroom. I live for the moments where something “clicks” for a student and a giant grin overcomes their face. I recognize that our youth is our future and want to dedicate my life helping to teach the young minds of our country.

 

3. How do you define “feminism”?

 I define “feminism” as the advocacy of equal rights for all individuals, no matter their sex or gender. I feel it includes the ideas and beliefs that society can be changed to be more just and fair viewing women and men as equals, thus providing equal opportunities and rights for them.

 

4. Why do you identify yourself as a feminist?

I identify myself as a feminist because I strongly believe all human beings should be treated alike and political, social, and economic stigma against women in particular needs to be dissolved. As a student at Boston College, I have had the chance to interact with amazing, strong, and influential women that have taught me to think critically about gender roles within our society and the ways in which I can help bring awareness to these social issues and combat them.

 

5. Who or what inspires you?

The Boston College community is what inspires me. There are so many students that are filled with passion and drive. I feel so blessed to be a part of a community that not only cares for each other but also for others. It is inspirational to be at a place where students feel comfortable speaking their minds and advocating in a wholesome manner for what they believe in. I see what other students, faculty, and alumni have accomplished and I am motivated to further these accomplishments as well as add my own.

featured feminist

Liz Hejlek

School and year: A&S 2014

Major: History

Minor: Faith, Peace and Justice

 

Questions

1. Tell us a little bit about yourself.

I was born and raised in St. Louis, Missouri and therefore love everything St. Louis, especially the Cardinals. My friends and family are number one in my life, and I generally dislike having to be serious about anything. I LOVE to talk, especially about the Arrupe and Bystander Education programs at BC. Last year I studied abroad in Quito, Ecuador, which let me merge my major and minor together in crazy, new ways, which I couldn’t be more excited about!

 

2. What are you most passionate about?

People – I love meeting people, talking to people, learning about what has happened in the past to make people who they are today. I’m also incredibly passionate about what I’m studying, which is the overlap between the history of US foreign policy with Latin America and studies about conflict resolution and rebuilding communities in post-war areas.

 

3. How do you define “feminism”?

For me, feminism is equality. It’s about making the world a better place for ourselves and future generations, so that no one will have to worry about the implications of his/her gender, race, sexuality, socioeconomic status, or other socially constructed classification. Feminism is about deconstructing the arbitrary ways we label those around us, and then proceed to treat people based on those labels.  

 

4. Why do you identify yourself as a feminist?

I am a feminist because I believe in equality. The term “feminist” actually terrified me as I entered college, and it was the last label I wanted. However, the WRC helped me realize what the word truly means, and that I am a feminist because of everything I stand for: equality in the workplace, a society that empowers instead of victimizes survivors of sexual assault, women’s rights in nations around the world, and so much more. It’s simply a part of who I am.

 

5. Who or what inspires you?

My friends and family inspire me because they constantly push me to be better while loving me unconditionally. More specifically, my older sister has inspired me in ways I’m sure she does not even realize. She is one of the strongest, smartest women I have ever met and truly lives love and compassion for other people.

featured feminist

Kelli Armstrong

Vice President for Planning and Assessment

Questions

1. Tell us a little bit about yourself.

I grew up on the south shore of Massachusetts in an Irish Catholic family as the eldest of four daughters.  After graduating from Bates College, I received my Masters’ degree in English from the University of Virginia and a Ph.D. in Higher Education from Boston College.  My dissertation focused on women in science and why we lose many women in math and science fields after the first year in college. My professional life has spanned both enrollment management and research, and I have worked in a number of higher education settings, including Tufts, Bates, the Board of Higher Education and UMass.  

 

2. What are you most passionate about?

On the home front, I am most passionate about my family.  I have a wonderful husband and two amazing boys.  In my work life, I am passionate about the power of education to positively affect lives.  I am particularly committed to helping disadvantaged students receive a college degree.  If you examine the data on earnings for those with college degrees compared to those who were unable to achieve a college degree, the differences are astounding.  A college degree is one of the most effective ways to lift a person out of poverty.

 

3. How do you define “feminism”?

Feminism is simply the belief that women should have access to the same rights and opportunities as men.   

 

4. Why do you identify yourself as a feminist?

Despite the many gains that women have made, particularly in the last few decades, inequity still exists across the world, and in many countries women are second class citizens.  Even in the U.S., if you simply examine the numbers, women are not represented in leadership roles nearly at the same level as men, whether it is in the public or private sector.  Although there are many opportunities available to women now that were not available decades ago, the nature of these opportunities and the definition of success are based on an old paradigm.  These old structures make it difficult for women to balance work with families as we are often forced to choose between the two, or to compromise in ways that are difficult to find balance in either setting.  We need to find better, more flexible ways to allow women (and men) to fully explore their leadership potential and talents, yet also lead fulfilling lives outside of work.

 

5. Who or what inspires you?

I am inspired by many strong women in history—Eleanor Roosevelt is my all-time favorite, for her compassion and advancement of civil rights.   I’m inspired by my mother, who ran an emergency room as head nurse until age 72, and my grandmother who was orphaned at age 8, but never lost her courage or drive to achieve.  At BC, I’ve been inspired by some wonderful women who have mentored me – Karen Arnold, Pat DeLeeuw and Judy Kissane.  I’m also inspired by the Jesuits as I read more about Ignatian teachings, and their philosophy of leadership (quite a feminist perspective, I think).  And there are a few feminist men at BC who have done a great deal to support a culture to promote women, namely Pat Keating, Leo Sullivan and Fr. Butler.

featured feminist

Laura DelloStritto

School and Year: A&S 2013

Major: Biology; Minor: Philosophy

Questions

1. Tell us a little bit about yourself.

I’m originally from exotic Worcester, Massachusetts and my interests include corgis, cupcakes, and free t-shirts.  

During my time at BC, I served as Chief of Staff for GLC (GLBTQ Leadership Council) and represented GLC within the Rainbow Alliance, a coalition we formed this year that unites all of the LGBTQ groups (undergrad, grad, and faculty/staff/administrators) at BC. I was also a staff member at the wonderful WC from 2012-2013 where I ate a lot of cookies on Mondays and gave a lot of fistbumps all other days. I had the privilege of serving as both 48Hours and Spectrum retreat leads and I was involved in the Queer Peers program and BC Students for Sexual Health.

This fall I will start my MPH candidacy at Boston University School of Public Health with a concentration in Social and Behavioral Sciences, where I hope to begin to assess health disparities affecting LGBTQ communities and develop strategies to reduce them.

 

2. What are you most passionate about?

At BC, I discovered a passion for working with and advocating for underserved groups. Within the various organizations that I was involved with on campus, I was able to work with some fantastic teams to assess the unmet needs of specific populations (LGBTQ students, female students, freshmen, etc.) and develop targeted programming and resources to address those needs. Striving to support, educate, and empower these populations and create a healthier environment for all made me feel like I had a purpose at BC, rather than just doing work that would leave with me after I completed my degree.

 

3. How do you define “feminism”?

As a former Introduction to Feminisms TA I should acknowledge that there are various types of feminism and all have specific issues and goals, but my personal definition of the movement as a whole is that feminism is somewhat of a societal progress report. Feminism recognizes a pervasive issue (such as sexual assault), and asks 1.) how have we, collectively and individually, been enabling this issue and 2.) what steps can we take to stop doing that?

Feminism makes people uncomfortable because it makes us question things we have always accepted as true, natural, or normal parts of society, simply because it’s all they have ever known. But once you recognize an issue, it’s difficult to un-see it. Arbitrary gender roles are another example—feminism recognizes that we often create stereotypes of hyper-feminine women and hyper-masculine men, which affects what we think they should look like, how we think they should act in social settings, or what hobbies we think they should have. Feminism then questions how these (often unconscious) pressures can negatively influence many of the choices that we make as we try to live up to these unrealistic expectations of the type of people we blindly believe we should be.  

What bothers me the most about feminism is not within the movement itself, but rather how misunderstood and stigmatized it is based on how deceptive it sounds. The word "feminism" makes many people think the movement is either solely for or should only be composed of people who identify as female. 

Note how many prominent women are asked by the media if they are feminists. Katy Perry, Lady Gaga, Ellen Page, Hillary Clinton, Marissa Meyer, just to name a few. But how many men are asked that? And why aren’t they?

The issues that feminism seeks to explore, such as sexual assault, rape culture, gender roles, body image, racism, heteronormativity/homophobia, devaluation of the feminine, discomfort with discussing sexuality—all of these issues not only very much so affect men, but even more importantly they require critically engaging men, in addition to women, in order to develop successful solutions.

We need to begin to recognize as a society that feminism, as bell hooks said, really is for everybody so that we can start witnessing how much stronger our collective power is for change.

 

4. Why do you identify yourself as a feminist?

I am a feminist because I want to be on the team of people questioning what they recognize to be problematic in society and what role they can play to help, rather than letting pervasive issues remain unquestioned.

 

5. Who or what inspires you?

Watching the students in my Feminisms class or WC’s Think Tank discussion group have their perceptions of feminism completely shattered and reconstructed after discussing various feminist issues.

Seeing someone wearing a GLC “Support Love” shirt or rocking a Support Love sticker.

The energy of freshmen.

Hillside chocolate chip cookies. 

People holding doors for the person after them, even if they’re an awkward distance away.

People who ask those that look lost if they need directions.

Faculty, staff, and administrators who stay late to work with students.

Thoughtful letters to the editor.

People that find and return ID cards.

Seeing someone come to one of your group’s events that you’ve never seen before.

Students who recognize that they DO have the power to make change, and who make the decision to act to create it.

 

featured feminist

David Altenor

African and African Diaspora Studies Program
Assistant Director of Boston College Voices of Imani

Questions

1. Tell us a little bit about yourself.

I’m am inspirational music artist, producer and songwriter from Massachusetts and owner of Kingdomsound Productions, LLC.  I studied Theology at BC, graduating in 2009.  I’m heavily involved in music ministry - particularly with choirs.

 

2. What are you most passionate about?

I’m most passionate about God, family, music and helping others. I really strive to use my music to make a difference in this world.

 

3. How do you define “feminism”?

The understanding that women are equal to men and should get the recognition that they deserve in all facets of life - “political, economic, social etc.”

 

4. Why do you identify yourself as a feminist?

I identity myself as a feminist because I admire the strength that women have.  Women have to overcome so many things to be successful and I can relate in some ways.  Watching my mother raise six children with very little income, made me realize how strong women really are.  She’s my biggest role model.  I’ve recently produced and written a song/music video titled “Beautiful(click here to listen!) which is a song about women empowerment.  

 

5. Who or what inspires you?

My inspiration primarily comes from God, but also from other unexpected sources.  I’m constantly in a creative state and anything inspires me: nature, other forms of art, a phrase seen or heard etc.

featured feminist

Keun Young Bae

School & Year: A&S 2013; BC Law 2016
Major(s): English and Psychology

Questions

1. Tell us a little bit about yourself.

I was born in Seoul, South Korea and moved to Surabaya, Indonesia when I was 6 years old. I attended a small international school for 13 years in Surabaya prior to coming to the United States to start undergrad at Boston College, where I majored in English and Psychology. During undergrad, I worked at the Women's Center at BC for three years. I graduated from BC in May 2013, and I'm excited that I'll be returning to BC this fall to start my studies at BC Law. I love to read and write, and to prepare myself for the inevitable stress that will come with law school, I've started learning boxing and taekwondo this summer as well.

 

2. What are you most passionate about?

I am most passionate about working to end the stigma and shame that is directed towards women. Even this year, there have been countless numbers of politicians and news anchors placing too much emphasis on a woman's behavior or dress and not enough on the actual crime and criminal in a rape case and/or sex crime. Being from South Korea, the country with the highest rate of cosmetic plastic surgery in the world for young women, I also recognize how heavily societies still place emphasis on physical appearance as an indication of a woman's "value." Women everywhere are still surrounded by messages telling them that they should feel guilty about their food intake, their relationships, their appearance and dress, or their decisions regarding sexuality.

 

3. How do you define “feminism”?

To me, feminism is acknowledging that all human beings, regardless of gender (or any other factor), deserve equal rights; understanding the problematic consequences that gender inequalities continue to have on all genders; and taking action (whether big or small) towards ending these inequalities. I believe that feminism leads to increased choices for all genders, and choice leads to empowerment.

 

4. Why do you identify yourself as a feminist?

Before working at the Women's Center, I thought that "feminism" was an obscure and obsolete area of academic study, simply because it was a topic that had never been discussed where I grew up. I identify as a feminist because I want to challenge the 'traditional' ideas and gender roles that dictate what men and women must do or cannot do because of their gender, whether it is through the work I do in my future career or through conversations with others. It is my hope that through the continued efforts of feminists, the topic of "feminism" will not only gradually lose its stigma in conversation, but also establish concrete goals for individuals, organizations, and countries to work towards greater social justice.

 

5. Who or what inspires you?

I am most inspired by the people around me who can steadily work towards achieving a goal while remaining encouraged and maintaining a positive outlook on the state of the world. Taking part of any sort of activism, whether in a march on the street or in a conversation with friends addressing the problematic consequences of a stereotype, can be exhausting as change does not occur immediately.  The people in my life who are able to stay positive in the face of great adversity have inspired me to continue pursuing my interests and passions and have greatly shaped who I am today.

featured feminist

Régine Michelle Jean-Charles

Romance Languages and Literatures and African and African Diaspora Studies Program

Classes taught: RL 454 Francophone Women Writers; RL 473 Haiti Chérie: Haitian Literature & Culture;  RL 307 Masterpieces of Francophone Literature; RL 476 Francophone African Cinema;  RL 465 Francophone African & Caribbean Literature

BK 241:  Beyond Barack & Hillary:  Black Feminism in Politics, Literature & Culture; BK 357 Haiti & Globalization; BK 600 Theorizing the African Diaspora; BK 236 Narratives of Violence in Africa and the Diaspora

Questions

1. Tell us a little bit about yourself.

This is my fifth year as an assistant professor here at BC.  I became a professor because I loved to read, write, teach, talk and travel—a career in academia allows me to do all of these and to impact future generations to be inspired to change the world.  My area of specialty is French-speaking Africa and the Caribbean as well as gender, feminism and sexuality in Africa and the diaspora.  I am currently completing my first book, “Conflict Bodies:  The Politics of Rape Representation in the Francophone Imaginary.”  I am very passionate about my Haitian culture—Haiti has some of the best music, art and food in the world not to mention an extraordinary and exciting history.  I am married and I have two little boys ages 5 and 3. 

 

2. What are you most passionate about?

I am most passionate about ending rape and domestic violence.  I sit on the board of a non-profit, A Long Walk Home, an organization that uses the arts to end violence against women and girls.  I started working with ALWH as a graduate student when I had the opportunity to perform in the multi-media arts show “Story of A Rape Survivor”. Today I am a lecturer, performer and board member for the group.  One of my favorite programs that we have is the Girl/Friends Leadership Institute, a program for high school girls who go on to become change agents on their communities by using the arts as tools for social change and healing, create strong sexual and dating violence policies and prevention programs at their schools, and have the resources and skills to teach, mentor, and advocate for other girls in their schools and communities.

 

3. How do you define “feminism”?

My favorite definition comes from Gloria Steinem: “feminism is the radical notion that women are human.” 

 

4. Why do you identify yourself as a feminist?

Because I believe in equity; also as a black feminist I am painfully aware of the intersection of different oppressions.  I also believe in the idea of feminism as a collective movement that requires everyone’s participation.  As bell hooks put it “feminism is for everyone.” Finally, when I was in college I attended a lecture in which the speaker said “as a woman if you are not a feminist you are a masochist” so really to me the question is why not identify as a feminist?

 

5. Who or what inspires you?

My faith—whether it is the challenge to love God with all my heart soul, strength and mind, to love my neighbor, care for the least of these, my faith walk motivates, guides and inspires me daily.

 

 

featured feminist

Philip Johnston

School & Year: A&S 2013

Major(s) / Minor(s): History with minors in American Studies and AADS

Questions

1. Tell us a little bit about yourself.

I am from the small town of Gardiner, Maine.  I am an only child who loves all things Boston sports, Carhartt, Flannels, and Seinfeld, to name a few things.  I grew up on an 800-acre farm where I helped my parents raise beef cattle, pigs, and chickens.  At BC, I enjoy taking lots of interesting classes in a variety of different fields and I play club ultimate frisbee.

 

2. What are you most passionate about?

I am really passionate about education and giving everyone a fair chance to succeed.  I believe as a society we owe that to those who are less fortunate than ourselves.  I would also say I am passionate about the Red Sox. 

 

3. How do you define “feminism”?

I believe feminism is much more broad than most people consider it to be.  Feminism places importance on all bodies while highlighting the concerns of female bodies especially.  It is also about equality; that is full equality for all, in the truest sense of the word, and not simply as stated in our constitution.  I think feminism confronts our conception of what equality really looks like and challenges us to think about it in different ways.  In short, feminism asks us to consider a multiplicity of experiences and to realize that there are interlocking oppressions in this world.  None of us are free unless we are all free.

 

4. Why do you identify yourself as a feminist?

Honestly, I have never really considered myself to be a feminist until maybe recently.  Even in receiving this honor I was surprised, because there are many people on this campus who are more active than me in fighting for the feminist cause.  For myself, I identify as a feminist because I believe we have a long way to go in regard to women’s rights, and the rights of all oppressed people, and I will be a feminist until all those barriers are eliminated.

 

5. Who or what inspires you?

I am inspired by my peers, my family and friends.  That sounds obvious, but I am constantly amazed by the people who exist around me, and they give me hope for a better future.

featured feminist

Franca Godenzi

Member Relations Specialist at the Center for Work and Family

Questions

1. Tell us a little bit about yourself.

I was born in Switzerland and moved to Boston with my parents when I was 10 years old. I became a U.S. citizen in Boston on St. Patrick’s Day in 2011. The rest of our family still lives in Switzerland, and I remain closely tied to them and to my home country. I transferred to Boston College halfway through my sophomore year from New York University. In May of 2013, I graduated from the College of Arts and Sciences at BC with a Bachelor’s Degree in Sociology.

 

2. What are you most passionate about?

It is difficult to say what I am most passionate about, because I am passionate about a variety of causes. I would say currently I am most passionate about work-life integration and equal pay. I believe that for individual men and women and the corporations and organizations they work for to be most successful, work-life integration is crucial. I also believe that in order for women to become equal to men, women need to be paid the same amount for the work that they do. Inequality of pay signifies that women’s contributions and hard work are not as valued. For our society to move forward and continue to prosper, we need female leadership and talent. 

 

3. How do you define “feminism”?

I like to use the phrase: feminism is the radical notion that women are human beings. Feminism has become the “F” word in our society and carries a negative stigma to those who believe that it is no longer a necessity. However, it is easy to see that we still very much need feminism. If one looks at the small number of women at the CEO level and in the high ranks of political administrations, at the statistics of women who are sexually assaulted and battered by their intimate partners, at the disproportionate level of poverty among women worldwide, or at the hate-filled and incredibly sexist pornography industry, it is easy to see that our society and our future generations still desperately need feminism. This is not to say that previous generations have not made significant advances, they certainly have, however, I am still far from satisfied with the current situation in our country and around the world.

 

4. Why do you identify yourself as a feminist?

I believe that all people deserve to be treated equally regardless of race, class, gender, sexual orientation, and ability. As a feminist, I strive to take action to bring us closer to gender equality, whether it be through raising awareness about sexual assault and rape on college campuses in my previous role at the Women’s Center or working with HR professionals to promote individual and organizational success through work-life initiatives in my current role at the Center for Work and Family.

 

5. Who or what inspires you?

I am inspired by those around me who are working towards equality, whether they are working on the institutional or individual level. I am especially inspired by men, such as my father and my boyfriend, who identify as feminists, acknowledge their male privilege, and strive to eradicate sexism.

featured feminist

Erin Casey

School of Theology and Ministry, class of 2013

MA in Pastoral Ministry

Questions

1. Tell us a little bit about yourself.

I was born and raised in North Attleboro, MA and did my undergraduate studies at Stonehill College (Easton, MA) where I majored in Sociology and minored in Health Care Administration.  This past spring I graduated from BC’s School of Theology & Ministry with an MA in Pastoral Ministry, and am currently seeking a job in the ministry/non-profit sector.  I spent the past year working at the Volunteer & Service Learning Center, and interning with Campus Ministry- I am sad to see my time in both of these offices come to an end!  Prior to my studies at Boston College, I spent a year working at The Gathering Place, a daytime homeless shelter for women, children, and transgender individuals in Denver, CO.  I absolutely loved my time at The Gathering Place, and my experiences there were unforgettable- the staff and clientele will forever hold a special place in my heart. 

 

2. What are you most passionate about?

As cliché as it may sound, my passion for social justice has been a driving force since my earliest days.  My enthusiasm for social justice began with a love for volunteering at a young age, but that gradually developed into my desire for advocacy, education, and solidarity.  Since my time at The Gathering Place, I have become particularly interested in women’s issues, particularly the many obstacles that women experiencing homelessness face on a daily basis.  When I arrived at Boston College, I sought to become more involved with the WC, and found myself involved with both C.A.R.E. week and SANet.  Now that I am entering the ministry world, it is my hope to share my enthusiasm for social justice and advocacy with those I work with.          

 

3. How do you define “feminism”?

Feminism means action, advocacy, and solidarity.  It means supporting and working towards equality for all, regardless of their sex or gender.  I have a button on my book bag that says, “this is what a feminist looks like”, and it’s been a great conversation starter.  After class one day, a fellow student saw it and commented, “You’re a feminist?!  But you’re so quiet!”  Taking a few minutes to share with this classmate that feminism isn’t about being the loudest, most outspoken female in a given situation gave me pause, and made me reflect on why I do identify myself as a feminist.  I may not be the loudest voice in any given situation, but for me, feminism is about far more than my volume- it’s about my actions, my thoughts, and the daily conversations I have with my peers, students, and family. 

 

4. Why do you identify yourself as a feminist?

I identify myself as a feminist because I believe that all human beings deserve equal respect, dignity, and opportunities, regardless of their sex or gender.  I am a feminist for my two sisters, my mother, my friends, and the women of The Gathering Place.  I am a feminist so that my voice and actions can make a difference in the world.  Stonehill College taught me the importance of creating a more just and compassionate world, and Boston College has instilled in me the value of being a woman for others.  Being a feminist encompasses both of these, and it is for these reasons that I identify myself as such.    

5. Who or what inspires you?

I am continually inspired by all who come and go from my daily life- those who share their thoughts, ideas, and life journeys with me.  However, I am particularly inspired by my Mom, Dad, sisters, and friends.  My Mom and Dad raised me to believe that I could do anything I set my heart to, and have supported me through every step of my journey, exemplifying what it means to be your best self and stand up for what you believe in.  My sisters inspire me every single day, as they embark on their own career paths, and I am continually awed by their enthusiasm, dedication, and exploration of their given fields.  Finally, my friends are remarkable women, and they inspire and support me on a daily basis.  Through their wisdom, knowledge, and love, I am continually inspired to emulate their warmth, genuineness, and compassion. 

   

featured feminist

Rosaleah Brown Gresham

Department: Office of AHANA Student Programs

Quote: “Well-behaved women seldom make history.” (Laurel Thatcher Ulrich)

Questions

1. Tell us a little bit about yourself.

My father is African-American and Lakota Sioux and my mother is first generation American, her mother was Colombian and father was Puerto Rican. I was raised in Cambridge, Massachusetts and the eldest of four. I attended Cambridge Public Schools and graduated from Cambridge Rindge and Latin High School in 2002. During my high school career I played on the Varsity Swim and Crew Teams. I applied to Smith College early decision and was admitted for fall 2002. I graduated from Smith College in 2006 with a Bachelor of Arts in Government and African Philosophy. When I graduated in 2006 I began working as a Youth Coordinator for a city youth center. Fall 2006 I began working for a national non-profit as a Development Assistant and as a Consultant. A year later I received a phone call from a city councilor asking me to be a council aide. In less than three months she was elected mayor. I became Deputy Assistant for the first African-American, lesbian, female Mayor in the nation. Currently, I am the Administrative Assistant in the Office of AHANA Student Programs at Boston College and recently accepted into the Master’s in Higher Education Administration Program at the Lynch School of Education. I am married to my high school sweetheart and together we have a beautiful daughter, who will be three years old in May.

 

2. What are you most passionate about?

What has been most consistent and continues to return to me is the passion I have for collaborating with people on issues regarding social justice, education, and empowerment, particularly with students, young people, womyn, and people of color. I enjoy being part of a team, developing new ideas, and learning new things. I enjoy being able to bring something to the table that is beneficial to a group or community. My most memorable collaborations have been creating a panel series for minors at a youth center that was catered to their interests (one topic was interracial dating), working with over 20 people to design a coalition based on green jobs and sustainability, and working with Boston College students on a documentary about the stereotypes of hair, particularly as it relates to sexuality, gender, and ethnicity.

 

3. How do you define “feminism”?

I am a firm advocate for gender equality. I believe that womyn should be able to make as much as men in the workforce, be elected president, and have a feminist partner to support her in her life decisions. However, this is not as evident as we have seen in the fall of 2012 regarding the debate on womyn’s right. Incidences like this, living life as a womyn, and attending an all womyn’s college, has redefined feminism for me. I define Feminism as the empowerment of womyn. This can be done through support, working together, teaching one another about womyn’s rights, spreading knowledge, accepting and owning our bodies, forging our own identities, and to be advocates for all womyn.

 

4. Why do you identify yourself as a feminist?

I identify myself as a feminist because that is what I embody; I was told I “exude” it. I believe, as a womyn of color, that it is my social responsibility to create my own feminist identity. Anna Julia Cooper stated it most eloquently in A Voice from the South, “Only the Black woman can say 'when and where I enter, in the quiet, undisputed dignity of my womanhood, without violence and without suing or special patronage, then and there the whole Negro race enters with me.” This quote has always stuck out to me and has been applicable to my life. As a womyn of color in a male-dominated society, I have a unique position in this nation. As a womyn of color whose identity has been historically taken from her, it is my responsibility to speak up, stand up, and educate myself, and do the same for other womyn around me. As a collective nation it is everyone’s responsibility to stand up for justice and equality but that does not always happen. Therefore, given my experiences and the history of my people and womyn, I owe it to be a feminist, and that is why I identify as one.

 

5. Who or what inspires you?

Feminists. The womyn I have met at Smith College have been a true inspiration to me. I can honestly say there are several of them I speak with regularly, visited, and who have been there for my pregnancy and marriage. We are accomplished, independent, strong, and resilient womyn. During my time at Boston College I have been able to meet other young womyn who are even bolder. Being around college feminist is a daily reminder of how important my work is, and the contribution I make by doing something as small as listening and engaging in conversations.

featured feminist

Francesca Falzone

School & Year: A&S'13

Major: Art History

Minor: Hispanic Studies and Women & Gender Studies

Questions

1. Tell us a little bit about yourself.

I am currently working towards completing my B.A. in Art History, with a double minor in Spanish and Women’s Studies in the school of Arts and Sciences. I recently interned for the Latin American Art Department at Sotheby’s in New York City this past summer. I got exposure to the art world while working at the Boston Center for the Arts as well as Kaminski Auction House, working predominantly in visual programming. I recently finished my senior topic paper on Barbara Kruger, an American collage artist, where I argue the effects of capitalism on female agency in post-modernist culture. This spring semester, I have been working for Tang Investments LLC, an art investment firm interning as the business development intern.

 

2. What are you most passionate about?

I am passionate about art, traveling, fashion, friends, and family. I hope that our female leaders of tomorrow are stronger because of the hard work men and women are working towards today.

 

3. How do you define “feminism”?

Feminism is the courage to take oneself seriously and refuse to be labeled and/or categorized based on gender. It is the understanding that all human individuals are born equals so both women and men alike should have the right to be evaluated based on their work and effort rather than their anatomy.

 

4. Why do you identify yourself as a feminist?

Feminism is the advocacy of women’s rights on the grounds of political, social, and economic equality to men. It is the communal emotion of empowerment that really sparks my interest in the movement.  

 

5. Who or what inspires you?

There are many people who inspire me. My top two are my mom and my dad. They work harder than anyone I know and have given me the best thing I could ever ask for: my education. Alongside my parents, my sisters inspire me as well. They are the next generation of women who will strive for greater changes. They motivate me to ask more questions, step towards more answers, and fight for who I want to be in the world. 

featured feminist

Hana Hyseni

School & Year: A&S'13

Major: Theater

Questions

1. Tell us a little bit about yourself.

I am a young woman from the small and newly independent country Kosovo.  Being raised under oppression and constant reminders of what I, as an Albanian [woman], cannot do I have been eager to discover all the things I can do. When I was 16, I left home and moved to Boston to continue my education in the States. I have been fortunate to find a place within the BC community where I’m continuously enriched with support and wisdom from teachers and peers alike. My BC experience has flourished through my involvements in the OTE program, Theatre Department, Phaymus Dance Team, WC, film production courses and more. These have pushed me to challenge myself, develop my creativity and responsibility to become a better, stronger leader in each aspect of my life. They have ultimately led me to the highlight of my BC career: directing the Theatre Department Workshop Production of Jack and Jill – the most challenging and rewarding project in my life so far.

 

2. What are you most passionate about?

Art in all its forms: dancing, drawing, writing, acting, directing, photographing. As human beings we are gifted with the ability to create and I love to explore this gift in any form I can. My involvement in Jack and Jill has drawn me even more to directing. Communicating with the audience through movement and speech fascinates me. For me, bringing a text to life and with it evoking an emotion in the listener is the most unique form of expression.

 

3. How do you define “feminism”?

Feminism is the courage to take oneself seriously and refuse to be labeled and/or categorized based on gender. It is the understanding that all human individuals are born equals so both women and men alike should have the right to be evaluated based on their work and effort rather than their anatomy.

 

4. Why do you identify yourself as a feminist?

I myself have fallen victim to biased social perceptions of gender. I may have shared the same exact idea as a male peer in class or at work, but somehow my words would fade into the air while his would make jaws drop. Women have gone unheard for too long both at home and in the workspace. I want to be remembered for being courageous, hardworking and innovative. I identify my rights to excel in any aspect of life and do not tolerate those being taken from me due to a natural factor that is out of my control.

 

5. Who or what inspires you?

People and what they go through. Human experiences present an endless source of emotion, learning and life that I like to carry through in my own forms of expression.  I try to transfer my energy into my work and creativity. Once you learn how to see every experience as enrichment, life becomes just really, purely, beautiful.

featured feminist

Ogechi-Leah Musa

School & Year: A&S'14

Major: Psychology B.S.

Questions

1. Tell us a little bit about yourself.

Born and raised in a small Italian-dominated city, I was always surrounded by a familiar face and pasta in West Haven, Connecticut. I learned how to cook from an early age by watching my playmates mother’s whip up their classic Italian dishes. I also learned how to cook by observing my mother. I am one of five thus there was always a meal being made in my kitchen. From goat-meat stew, sautéed liver, okra flavored tripe to fufu and jollof rice, I was exposed to a wide range of meats and exotic West African dishes which has heavily influenced my passion for all types of food as well as establishing and fostering my nonchalant, open-minded attitude about life. I was always an observant learner due to the awkward first six years of my childhood when I didn’t talk. I was a mute. This fact usually surprises people because of my loquacious disposition and friendly nature they see every day. Through my silence and observation, I found the inspiration to raise my voice. Here at BC I raise my voice through my leadership positions as a coordinator in the Women of Color Caucus of UGBC-ALC as well as the Director of Public Relations in the National Residence Hall Honorary.

 

2. What are you most passionate about?

I love to act. I’m most passionate about drama, TV, movies, etc. I love it all. It’s an art that I believe we’re all capable of doing; you just need to be comfortable and confident with yourself in order to portray emotions we all naturally exhibit. Another hidden passion that has recently been discovered is writing. From ten-minute plays to short film screenplays, I love creating characters in script based on real-world experiences with people I meet every day. Everyone’s dramatic; we all have our drama, our story. I appreciate everyone’s story and love discovering more every day through conversation. I displayed my passion in the Vagina Monologues during the weekend of February 7th. It’s a fantastic show that I’ve been participating in since freshman year. Through this show, I’ve been exposed to the true meaning of feminism and discovered my inner advocate for social equality.

 

3. How do you define “feminism”?

I define feminism as common sense. It is an enlightened movement towards equal rights for all. No matter what you believe in, it is a fact that we all are human. We all walk the same path of life, but leave different footprints. Just because you’re born with a certain sized foot, doesn’t mean you can’t walk the walk. I personally have intriguingly small feet and hands, but am still capable of doing exactly what you can do and at certain tasks, probably better. You have no control over the body you’re born in; which is the most aesthetic quality of life. Feminism is appreciating and respecting the rights of the female body; the rights of life itself.

 

4. Why do you identify yourself as a feminist?

I’m a feminist not only because of my love for my mother, two sisters, millions of female cousins, seven roommates, and the respect for my own body. I am a feminist because if I’m not, then who will be? Who’s going to stand up and defend my own voice, but myself? I am no longer a mute. I’m a feminist because I enjoy life and I feel like everyone should have the same opportunity to wake up and be able to breathe in their own skin. People often are afraid of the word feminist and instantly think of terms revolving around “man-hater”; that’s not the case at all. Men can be feminist as well and I’m personally an ally and love men. I advocate for everyone’s right. It just makes sense.  

 

5. Who or what inspires you?

If you know who I am, then you know who my mother is. Not only because she is the star of many of my stories, but because every good bone in my body was carved from her. Watching her hands cook, clean, work, and also master any dance move she came across, inspired me to do the same. As mentioned before, my mother is straight off the boat from Nigeria. She made the hopeful journey from her small simple life in her third-world village to the prestigious streets of New Haven to receive the education that was not attainable for the chief’s daughter; her role was to harvest food and cook for the many children of my grandfather. Sound familiar?  My mother sought and fought for the right to shape her own path contrary to the gender role her society bestowed upon her. After graduating and meeting my father, her whole life revolved around the well-being of her family. She reminds me every day that there’s always someone below you and above you and to just point to yourself and love what lies beneath the finger.


 

featured feminist

Amelia Blanton

School of Theology & Ministry'13

Questions

1. Tell us a little bit about yourself.

I was born and raised in Lubbock, Texas and did my undergraduate studies at Saint Louis University (St. Louis, MO) where I majored in Communication and Theological Studies and had interdisciplinary minors in Women’s Studies, Catholic-Jesuit Studies, and Urban Social Analysis. I’m short, but full of spunk and energy. I’m constantly speaking too loud and too fast. I love being involved and helping people to grow and succeed. While it sounds cliché, all I really want to do in life is make a difference in others’ lives (so someone hire me to do that when I graduate in May, please?). 

 

2. What are you most passionate about?

My Jesuit education has taught me that I’m called to be a woman for others, and thus, it makes sense that I’m passionate about service. As a freshman in college I was part of a faith and service learning community where the virtue of service was instilled in me. I learned not only what service really was, but what it required of me, and both those things continue to challenge me daily.

 

3. How do you define “feminism”?

Feminism, for me, is a verb. It requires action from us. Feminism requires standing in solidarity, not only with other women, but with all those who are marginalized and oppressed. Feminism challenges us to face our own stereotypes and expectations of people. Feminism necessitates that we critically examine the ways in which we are privileged, and how that privilege come at the expense of others. Feminism is a movement that started long before our time and a movement that we have the duty to continue and the ability to shape.

 

4. Why do you identify yourself as a feminist?

I have a button on my backpack that reads, “Ask me why I’m a feminist,” and I always struggle to articulate the answer to that question when someone takes the time to ask. I’m a feminist because I recognize the power of privilege; because I want my daughters, sons, nieces, nephews, and grandchildren to have the same opportunities and not be judged, criticized or challenged because of their respective dreams. I identify as feminist because it empowers me to take on things I think I can’t.

 

5. Who or what inspires you?

“You have been told, O mortal, what is good and what the Lord requires of you: Only to do justice and to love goodness, and to walk humbly with your God.”  (Micah 6:8)


 

featured feminist

Nanci Fiore-Chettiar

School & Year: A&S'15

Major: Sociology

 

Questions

1. Tell us a little bit about yourself.

I’m a Sociology major from a small coastal town in Rhode Island, so the beach is my second home. I am the oldest of four and it seems my personality has developed accordingly. My dad was born in India and my mom is Italian, hence my ambiguous complexion and ability to claim that I’ve never had a sunburn. My iTunes library is never-ending and I believe there is a song or fifty for any and every situation. My days are planned down to the minute on my Google calendar - which is both a good and bad thing - but I would never get anywhere on time (and sometimes still don’t) without it. I am obsessed with all of the extra-curriculars I am involved in, including FACES Council, UGBC Cabinet, Arrupe and the Boston College Venture Competition. All of these and more have contributed to an amazing experience so far here at BC. I love meeting new people and even more, learning their stories. Late night life chats are my favorite, and when I say “we should get lunch,” I mean we should really actually get lunch.

 

2. What are you most passionate about?

I am most passionate about social and political issues related to injustice and inequality. For me, this spans a broad spectrum of interests that include equal access to education and health care, race and racism, LGBTQ rights, and understanding ability and mental illnesses. Maybe it’s the Sociology major in me, but I am fascinated by the way all of these intersect in so many ways, and the way they affect us on institutional, interpersonal and internal levels. One of the best parts of my BC experience has been the opportunity to revolve my extra-curriculars around these passions. My involvement in UGBC, FACES, Arrupe, and BCVC are all outlets for me to explore these issues further outside of my academics. They allow me to learn more, to engage more, and to figure out in what way I can best contribute to reducing injustice and inequality.

 

3. How do you define “feminism”?

Feminism is a movement rooted in equality, respect and acceptance. It is the understanding that all people, regardless of gender and gender expression, are of equal value. It’s not only acknowledging that things right now are far from equal, but making a conscious effort to move towards a society where men and women are paid the same, both sexes have the freedom to make decisions for themselves, and the typical body image is positive instead of negative. For me, feminism is not devaluing one sex in favor of the other, but empowering both.

 

4. Why do you identify yourself as a feminist?

Up until recently, I didn’t. I was one of those girls who was quick to qualify, “I believe in equal rights,” with “... but I wouldn’t say I’m a feminist.” I believed feminism was an extreme movement comprised of overly-aggressive tactics and inflexible ideas of what women should be. I associated feminism with hypocrisy and double-standards. Since coming to BC, however, I’ve learned from many of my peers that my understanding of feminism was completely skewed. As I began to re-learn what feminism was, I realized that the values of the movement aligned with my own. I finally understood that I had been a feminist all along - and it’s about time I acknowledged it.

 

5. Who or what inspires you?

This is a tough one. I could write about my mother, who I admire more than I could briefly explain in a short paragraph. There are people, dead and alive, who I look up to and strive to emulate, for various reasons. For inspiration, though, I don’t really look to individuals. Instead, I look to moments. I am inspired by moments of honesty, moments of love, moments of vulnerability and moments of shared experiences. I am inspired by random acts of kindness and genuine smiles and the way a person speaks faster when they are talking about something they’re passionate about. Together and individually, each of these moments represent the beauty in our humanity. To me, nothing is more inspiring than that.

featured feminist

Katy Wilson

School & Year: A&S'2013

Major: French, Minor: Hispanic Studies

 

Questions

1. Tell us a little bit about yourself.

I come from San Francisco, California and am an avid skier and trail runner. Shock—I prefer long days on the mountain to long walks on the beach. Deeply influenced by my self-proclaimed tree-hugging environment, one of my favorite things is a summertime farmer’s market and local, fresh foods. I speak Spanish and French and love to learn about new cultures.

 

2. What are you most passionate about?

I feel most at home surrounded by health and nature. I love to be outdoors and especially love sharing my passion with others, whether it be hiking, paddle boarding, skiing, picnicking, preparing a fresh meal or just having a simple conversation. I’m a huge believer in treating our bodies and the earth with a conscientious, respectful outlook and love to cook for others to prove that this can also be delicious.

 

3. How do you define “feminism”?

I am very lucky to have grown up in a community that provided me with all of the tools I needed to get to where I am today. I never once considered myself to be disadvantaged due to any intrinsic part of my being. To me, everyone has an equally valued opinion and contribution to make to society. Women, like men—regardless of skin color, height, width or sexual orientation—are all human and all ready to teach and learn from each other. A good friend once told me that feminism isn’t necessarily shouting from the rooftops, but a simple understanding of the equality of all people.

 

4. Why do you identify yourself as a feminist?

I love my ladies. I’ve been on the council of the Laughing Medusa women’s literary magazine for four years, hoping to inspire and share in the experience of honest, open women’s literature. I also love conversation on breaking down gender lines, especially when it comes to fitness. An athlete my whole life, I want to prove that fitness is a transcendence of the mind and body that is not defined by gender “roles”. I’m seeing more and more men experiencing the calm of yoga and more and more women at the weight rack, and love them all for beginning to break down the traditional gender stereotypes.

 

5. Who or what inspires you?

An avid reader, I am most touched by words that somehow express an idea I thought to be only felt.

Since the thing perhaps is

to eat flower and not to be afraid.

–E.E. Cummings


featured feminist

Ines Maturana Sendoya

Director of Office of AHANA Student Programs

 

Questions

1. Tell us a little bit about yourself.

I have been working at Boston College for 10 years.   Currently, I am the Director of the Office of AHANA Student Programs.   I am originally from Colombia, South American and have lived in the United States for over 25 years.  I came to the United States as an international student and kept finding excuses to stay. In my spare time I enjoy watching Korean dramas, Indian movies and Colombian soap operas with my husband.  I also love making jewelry, travelling and dancing Latin music.    

 

2. What are you most passionate about?

I am most passionate about connecting opportunities and people.  I feel that all of us deserve to have the resources to reach our potential.  For that reason I work to remove barriers that have been placed on communities and individuals to prevent them from realizing their dreams.   In particular I love working with college students in their journey, having conversations about their lives and where they want to go.  

 

3. How do you define “feminism”?

My definition of feminism is rooted on my cultural and personal experience.   As such I define “feminism” as the ideology that women, independently of men, have the inherent right to use their personal resources, talents and capacity to actualize themselves educationally, politically and professionally.  It is the solidarity to stand with other women as we recognize our common interests and experiences.  It is the conscious decision for mothers to raise sons that ready to honor and respect the women in their lives. Although my definition of feminism, accentuates the self-empowerment of women, it includes a role for men to serve as companions or witnesses and advocates of this process for the women in their lives.  

 

4. Why do you identify yourself as a feminist?

When I was about 10 years old, my father said to my sister and me: “we work hard to give you the best education possible so that you have the necessary tools to never have to depend on a man for your subsistence”.   I feel that at that moment, I became a feminist and decided that even though I was growing up in a sexist society, I could accomplish anything in spite of my environment.

 

5. Who or what inspires you?

I receive inspiration from people who overcome difficult circumstances and persevere in their love for other human beings.  


 

featured feminist

Michelle Dyer

School & Year: A&S'13

Major: History; Minor: Faith, Peace, & Justice

 

Questions

1. Tell us a little bit about yourself.

I’m a born and raised New Yorker here at BC where I study History and have a minor in Faith, Peace, and Justice. My FPJ concentration is “examining patriarchy through the lenses of Christianity and Judaism.” Outside of the classroom I’m a teaching assistant for Introduction to Feminisms, a council member on FACES, and a member of the Student Admission Program. My roommates can attest to the fact that I also love Star Wars, pie, the beauty of the French language, fashion, and food! I was raised in a household that valued talking about everything, so I tend to talk and talk until I realize that people zoned out about 5 minutes before I ended. I can also quote The West Wing, Gilmore Girls, and 30 Rock in my sleep— try me! I hope to never cease traveling; I feel the calmest when I’m barreling through the sky in a metal tube. 

 

2. What are you most passionate about?

I’m most passionate about issues revolving around social justice and equality. Taking PULSE changed my career path and the view of the world around me— helping me understand true Jesuit ideals. It has influenced how I tackle issues of race, gender, and sexual orientation and has given me the background to work on these issues outside of college. I want people to realize that privilege is something that can blind us to the true problems we see everywhere and that ignorance is not an excuse to perpetuate systemic abuses.

 

3. How do you define “feminism”?

I define feminism as a movement that aims to dismantle the consequences, impacts, and actual instrument of patriarchy. All genders (remember, there’s more than 2!) are victims of the negative repercussions of a patriarchal society, but feminism allows women the opportunity to stand and fight the good fight together.  

 

4. Why do you identify yourself as a feminist?

When I was about 8 years old I watched “The Hunt for Red October,” and told my father that I’m going to work on a submarine. He had the unfortunate task of telling me that I wouldn’t be able to join Sean Connery on a submarine because women weren’t allowed on subs (later to change in 2010). That was my first brush with inequality and it continued to follow me everywhere. I never want a girl to feel less than equal. I never want a boy to be bullied for wanting to be a ballerina for Halloween. I am a feminist because I believe that women deserve the same protections, rights, and liberties that society seems to exclusively reserve for white men. I am proud to be a feminist because there is no reason to be ashamed to play like a girl; it’s not an insult.

 

5. Who or what inspires you?

I can’t list all the things and people that have inspired me because I have a terrible memory— one that loses the names and titles of what has changed my life. Yet, I can call upon my grandmothers who were women that raised families in unfamiliar countries without the support many people would need. The social contract that the Jews signed with God to never forget the oppressed has impacted me in ways I am not sure I truly understand yet. I am inspired by the diary I’ve kept from a young age because nothing can whip you into shape more than the dreams you had as a ten year old. The dream of travel pushes me to look beyond the comfort of the Northeast. Science fiction, Tina Fey, classic rock, and feminist literature all have a multitude of quotes that I’ve left in notebooks and loose papers, but I what I think truly inspires me is my little brother and the women I’ve been lucky enough to live with for the past three years.



featured feminist

Mara Renold

School & Year: CSON'13

Major: Nursing, Minor: Hispanic Studies

 

Questions

1. Tell us a little bit about yourself.

I consider myself an adventurous, independent woman who loves family, friends, and traveling (and my two dogs!).  I came to Boston College from Northbrook, IL having spent little time on the East Coast and knowing no one in the area.  Soon after, I met a group of girls who I consider my BC family and are my stronghold on rainy New England days.  I chose to be a nursing major and it has been the best decision I’ve ever made.  Through nursing school and volunteering, I’ve had the opportunity to be present with others during difficult times in their lives, and I consider this a blessing. 

 

2. What are you most passionate about?

I don’t have any one specific passion, but I’d say I’m addicted to trying new things.  I’ve tried just about every hobby from horseback riding to dancing to ultimate Frisbee.  The things I keep coming back to are music, travel, and volunteering.  I also just generally like to be friendly and say hello to everyone, maybe because I’m from the Midwest. 

 

3. How do you define “feminism”?

To me, feminism is acknowledging the strength, compassion, and perseverance that women possess in any given situation.  Last semester I did a clinical rotation on a pediatric oncology unit.  I was expecting the mothers on the floor to fall apart from knowing that their child has cancer and the fear that accompanies this knowledge.  The moms show incredible emotional strength in keeping things together for their son or daughter.  The bond between mother and child is really amazing to see. 

 

4. Why do you identify yourself as a feminist?

I grew up in a family of strong women.  My middle name Rosalie is after my great great grandmother who escaped the holocaust with her kids and took them on a boat to Ellis Island.  That’s not to say the men in my family aren’t also strong.  When it comes to men and women deserving equal rights and pay, that’s not a question it’s a fact.

 

5. Who or what inspires you?

My mom is a nurse and she has always shown compassion and selflessness to everyone around her.  She is the type of mom who loves having guests over and cooks way too much food just incase there isn’t enough for everyone.  There are times when my friends come over at midnight and she insists on “heating up a snack” for us, which always turns into a feast.  I hope to be as compassionate and selfless as she is.  



Charissa Jones

Charissa Jones

School & Year: Arts & Sciences 2013

Major(s) / Minor(s): Communications

 

Questions

1. Tell us a little bit about yourself.

I’m originally from New York where I grew up really into sports and theater, playing soccer and piano my whole life and being in drama productions.  My parents are from the Caribbean so I spent a lot of my time between New York and St. Maarten, where my mom’s sisters live.  I can never say no to sunshine!  I am in love with chocolate, and can never have too much.  I always say the best remedy for anything is a smile, and finding a way to laugh at yourself.

At BC I feel that I’ve been a little part of everything!  My favorite moments were definitely being part of an Arrupe immersion trip to Ecuador, leading a Halftime retreat for seniors, and directing Eve Ensler’s two plays, The Good Body and The Vagina Monologues.

 

2. What are you most passionate about?

I am passionate about social equality and justice, something that I show through the theatrical performances I partake in.  This year I’m directing the tenth anniversary of The Vagina Monologues, a project that is very dear to my heart because it deals directly with a mysterious organ of the woman’s body that I believe is so misconstrued and misunderstood.  The Vagina Monologues has brought me more in touch with my feminine side and understanding who I am as a woman, and I pass that along to the cast through our weekly rehearsals and the audience when they come see and hear these monologues. The Good Body has the same feeling for me, and is directed at women’s self image.  I keep coming back to these projects because I feel they are hugely important to this college campus and beyond; we are not just the superficial physical aspect of our body, but the whole intimate inner awareness of ourselves and our mind and soul.

 

3. How do you define “feminism”?

Feminism is the want for a social equality in gender, to listen to a woman’s thoughts and ideas without any bias.  I think it’s the want to fight for women’s rights, and it doesn’t have to be in a grand way such as being part of a movement.  It’s for women to have the choice of what they want to do in life and knowing if they work hard they can achieve anything they want to.

 

4. Why do you identify yourself as a feminist?

I identify myself as a feminist because I believe that women are beautiful, intelligent, amazing people, and given the chance to truly take a stance we can change the world.  I identify as a feminist because I believe that rape should not be used as a tactic of war, that women should have the right to fully express who they are without being downtrodden by society.  I identify as a feminist because I am a woman with goals, dreams, and ideas, and I am not allowing any hierarchal order to tell me who to be and what I can do. 

 

5. Who or what inspires you?

My mother has definitely been a huge inspiration to me.  I have seen her overcome such great and difficult obstacles that I couldn’t even fathom myself. Her determination is something that I hope I have within myself.  I am also inspired by a very special group of women that I have had the privilege to meet with every week to talk about what is to be a woman.   They inspired me to really look at my life and decide for myself how I want to be defined and how I will let others define me.  There are struggles we go through, seen or unseen, but it takes a certain type of courage to decide to take them head on, and they inspire me try to do so every day. 


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Professor Amy Boesky

Department: English

Classes Taught: Advanced Creative Nonfiction; Writing The Body; Early Women Writers; Writing The Self; Literature Core; Stuart Literature and Culture.

 

Questions

1. Tell us a little bit about yourself.

I’m both a writer and a professor. Over the past several years, I’ve become increasingly interested in narratives about the body and the role of genetics in stories about personal identity. Some of this stems from my family’s experience with BRCA1, the so-called “breast cancer gene.” In some ways, this new interest may seem far from my work in 17th century literature, but I’ve always been interested in the ways in which women imagine and write about their lives.

 

2. What are you most passionate about?

Works of imagination (narrative, film, music). Travel. Difficult questions. Humor. Surprising connections. In my personal life, I’m extremely close to both of my daughters (who are college-aged now) and love learning about their friends and their world.

 

3. How do you define “feminism”?

I define “feminism” as the expansion of boundaries for women from all backgrounds and all places. It’s dynamic; I think we’ve come so far in some ways, but in other ways, our culture has witnessed surprising setbacks. It’s wonderful to think that every participating country sent a female athlete to the Olympics this summer in London, and to witness the victories for runner such as Sarah Attar from Saudi Arabia. But it’s disheartening to hear Hilary Clinton being asked by an interviewer about which “designers” she prefers. It’s sobering to consider how many women are living at or below the poverty line. It’s frustrating to feel we’ve made little progress in many areas, despite huge strides elsewhere.

 

4. Why do you identify yourself as a feminist?

When I was in graduate school in the early 1980s, there were only a handful of women professors with tenure. The authors we read were almost all male. Moreover, the questions we considered tended to come from the same perspectives over and over again. I’ve been lucky to work in the academy during an exciting time, when the canon has been opened up and many of our former ideas have been interrogated. Growing up in the late 60s and 70s, I identified with the Woman’s Movement as an intrinsic part of civil rights.

 

5. Who or what inspires you?

I’m continually inspired by women who overcome profound hardship of various kinds—cultural or socioeconomic setbacks, physical hardship—and still meet the world with humor, resilience, and passion. I’m inspired by women working in areas still largely populated by men (in any field). I’m inspired by my mother-in-law, who still does yoga at 87, reads the Financial Times, and practices piano for hours a day to keep her mind sharp. And I’m inspired by my students. I don’t know how any of them find the time and energy to accomplish all that they do!

Ashley Nguyen

Ashley Nguyen

School & Year: College of Arts & Science, 2013

Major(s): Biology B.S. & Philosophy B.A.

 

Questions

1. Tell us a little bit about yourself.

I’m an only child from Naugatuck, CT—a small town 40 minutes south of Hartford. My parents immigrated to the United States from Vietnam, but I was born in the States and speak Vietnamese fairly well. I’m pursuing medical school with an interest in specializing in pediatrics or OB/GYN. I love babies and small toddlers. I volunteer at Brigham & Women’s Hospital in the Newborn Intensive Care Unit. I have a small addiction to vanilla ice coffees. I appreciate science humor, hugs, sushi, surprises, laughing, making other people laugh, and meaningful conversations. Serving as an Orientation Leader, Emerging Leader Program facilitator, and FACES co-director have absolutely enriched my BC experience. I’m very enthusiastic about life, and sometimes speak too loudly but that’s only because I’m passionate about whatever I’m talking about.

 

2. What are you most passionate about?

I am passionate about forming meaningful relationships, pursuing medicine, helping others, and staying positive. I am passionate about employing the privileges and opportunities that I have acquired to better allow others to attain the same chances at pursuing their own individual ideas of success and happiness.

 

3. How do you define “feminism”?

Feminism is empowerment. Feminism is an intersection of various approaches and disciplinary fields culminating to acknowledge that all human beings, regardless of sex or gender, deserve equal rights. Despite anatomical body parts or social influences, all human beings are worthy of support and love. It recognizes that a socially constructed idea should not control or oppress half of the world’s population. Women are intrinsically human, and deserve to be treated as such. The study of feminism cannot be separated from the issues of race or socioeconomic class. They are all too inherently intertwined.

 

4. Why do you identify yourself as a feminist?

I am a feminist because I believe that all human beings should be treated equally despite differences in sex or gender. After finishing my philosophy major, I have only encountered one female philosopher, Simone de Beauvoir. Despite the fact that the class was about existentialism, I found some way to incorporate her book The Second Sex into my final paper. That book literally changed my entire perspective on how I view and define gender. Sex and gender are two separate entities. This basic clarification exemplified how human beings have socially constructed gender in order for men to have power over women. This issue in itself confuses me because of the human reproductive cycle, and the obvious significance women have over men in that right. It depends on how you are defining what is preferred or better. I love learning and reading about gender and how it intimately influences many different subjects and disciplines. Even in the sciences, issues regarding gender have surfaced. These intersections of my varying passions truly excite me. Regardless of the career or vocation one pursues, one needs to understand what it means to be human from all different perspectives.

 

5. Who or what inspires you?

My mom provides me with relentless love and support. She inspires me to live with faith, hope, and resilience. I have witnessed her endure countless challenges that I may never even fathom of experiencing, but she still has limitless love for those around her. She is not afraid to speak up and live freely as her full self. As stated before, my parents immigrated to the United States from Vietnam a few months before I was born. My parents came to the United States without any money and without the ability to speak English. My mom earned her high school degree in the United States by attending night school while she worked day shifts in a factory to support my private school education. Hearing my mom’s life experiences never ceases to engage and enrapture me. She sacrificed so much to allow me the opportunities that I have been privileged with throughout my entire life. She never once asked for a thank you, and with a love like that, I am forever inspired.


Peter Folan

Peter Folan

Dept: First Year Experience

Assistant Director, Program Management

 

1. Tell us a little bit about yourself.

I have been married for nearly 10 years to the love of my life and am a proud father of Tommy (5) and Caroline (3). My family is the most important part of my life; spending time with my family brings me the greatest joy in my life. Reading books before bed, building sandcastles, planting a garden, having a catch, baking muffins, and dancing together after dinner are all part of what our family does for fun.

I have been an educator for my entire professional career. I have taught English in grades 7-12. I have also coached football, wrestling, and track. Working at all levels of  our educational system has been an important part of my professional development.  Working in the Division of Mission and Ministry in the Office of First Year Experience has been a remarkable adventure over the past four years.  Leading 48HOURS weekends has been my favorite part of my work here at BC. Listening and learning from the authentic voices of Boston College students has helped me to grow and develop as an administrator.

 

2. What are you most passionate about?

I am deeply committed to helping young men to have a better understanding of themselves and their place in the world. My doctoral research focused on male gender socialization and conceptions of masculinities.  Helping men to avoid the constraints defined by stereotypical gender roles and hegemonic masculinity is a goal that I pursue personally and professional. Presenting and encouraging broader definitions and understandings of masculinities and femininities are inherent in my life and work.

I am also passionate about helping Boston College students through conversations and reflective listening to pursue their deepest desires and to listen to what God is calling them towards. I believe that it is through the integration of our heart and our mind that we experience and express joy in our lives.

 

3. How do you define “feminism”?

I believe that the word feminism connects into a large social understanding that is geared toward equality in all senses.  Equal rights for women define my belief. I believe in equality for all people, especially women. Gender should not be seen as a detracting quality, but a strength that we should embraced. I try to strive to be continuously aware of the gender scripts that surround us each day and to transcend preconceived notions.

 

4. Why do you identify yourself as a feminist?

I am proud to be called a feminist. For many people, they are surprised to hear that a former collegiate wrestler and teacher at an all-boys’ high school is a feminist. I believe that part of what we all struggle with is the narrow lens through which people and ideas are defined. I am proud of the multiple identities that co-exist within me, including that of a feminist.

 

5. Who or what inspires you?

Karlyn Folan, my wife, inspires me each day. I am amazed by her dedication, patience, and love that are given effortlessly. Her goodness is a gift that I am blessed to share each day. Karlyn inspires me to be a better man. I am truly thankful for her support of me. While much of my research and daily work focuses on the lives of men and masculinities, I know first-hand the immeasurable influence that women, like Karlyn, have on the world. I am also inspired by my wonderful children. When they were born, I learned and relearned the meaning of true love while also finding my life’s calling and that which brings me the greatest joy in my life, being a father.

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Ashley Branch

School & Year: A&S, 2014

Major(s): Psychology & Philosophy

 

Questions

1. Tell us a little bit about yourself. 

I’m from Atlanta, GA and probably the most unconventional Southern Belle you’ll ever meet. When I’m not planning events with the Black Student Forum or Cape Verdean Student Association, I’m usually just hanging out with my friends. I tend avoid the Plex at all costs; I try and stay active by doing other things when I can. I especially love going to the paintball course with my little sisters!

2. What are you most passionate about?

People. Talking to them, confiding in them, connecting them. There’s just something amazing that happens when people connect on a personal basis. Especially in a world when everything is done via Twitter, Facebook and Text Message.

3. How do you define “feminism”? 

Feminism is a movement that aims to push for equal rights for everyone. At the end of the day, we all belong to the same community; there is no reason why one group of human beings are treated differently from everyone else. We all have the same blood that runs through our veins.

4. Why do you identify yourself as a feminist?

I have a deep-rooted belief that everyone deserves the same opportunities as well as the same respect. My being a woman should not be a factor when I am being considered for a job, or an award. My being a woman does not make me weak or helpless or angry, my being a woman does not make me other.

5. Who or what inspires you?

I am very fortunate to have known my great-grandmother. As the single mother of 7 girls, she was the backbone of my family. She instilled values in me at a young age that continues to shape my character. My mother is also one of my biggest inspirations. She is my best friend and I can count on her to give me her opinion, even when she knows that it isn’t what I want to hear. She pushes me to go further and reminds me to learn from life’s unexpected surprises, instead of strictly looking at them as problems that need to be solved. I owe her everything.


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Professor Elizabeth Rhodes

Department: Romance Languages & Literatures (Hispanic Studies)

Clsases Taught: My favorites are Don Quijote and You, Passion at Play, Violence in Hispanic Culture and Borderlines: Films of Immigration. I teach at the graduate and undergraduate levels each semester.

 

Questions

1. Tell us a little bit about yourself.

I'm an early moderninst, meaning my field of specialization is the fifteenth through seventeenth centuries, and my current research project is about how the life of the same saint changes over that period of time in Spanish printed versions of the saints' lives.  In 1490, for example, Mary Magdalen is Jesus's closest companion and after his death, she has a successful career as an apostle and preacher. But by 1599 she's a long-haired former prostitute weeping at his feet. What happened there?

I'm also a single mother of two, a sailor, and an activist on behalf of feminism and environmental issues related to water.  I love to knit and I foster care kittens for the Animal Rescue League.

 

2. What are you most passionate about?

Professionally and pedagogically, I'm passionate about getting students to think in new ways about who they are and what they can do.  Administratively, I'm passionate about getting BC to invest in reducing the incidence of rape on campus and in supporting student survivors of rape and domestic violence (this is happening, by the way, in large part thanks to Katie Dalton). Personally, I'm passionate about supporting rape survivors on campus, and also young female professionals here as well. BC continues to pose challenges for women, although this too is changing.

 

3. How do you define “feminism”?

I'm into language, and the Latin root of 'feminism' means simply 'feminine' (at first it referred to grammatical gender only, which is interesting).  So for me, being a feminist means making it easier for women to be what Ignatian spirituality defines as who God wants them each to be, which more broadly means figuring out goals that realize and fulfill each one according to her individual passions and talents.  Collaterally, this means helping men understand how to make room for that to happen without feeling threatened or losing their own grip on life.  My students like to think everything is nifty in this regard, but it's not, so part of my feminism is to prepare them to be strong on their own feet - women and men, of any sexual orientation.

 

4. Why do you identify yourself as a feminist?

I don't do it on purpose or for any reason; it's part of who I am.  I know 'feminism' has become a dirty word, and its definition has gotten a little squishy (that's a linguistics term).  But this is just backlash against women -  and the men who support them - changing old ways of thinking, and the movement itself making progress.  So now is the time to dig in, not give up. For me, feminism's ultimate objective is not to be necessary any more.

 

5. Who or what inspires you?

The sea, my mother, my daughter working in Haiti and my son working with kids from the Southie projects.  And at work? My students.


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Pooja Shah

School & Year: College of Arts & Sciences, Class of 2013

Major: English & Philosophy

Minor: Chemistry

 

Questions

1. Tell us a little bit about yourself.

I was born in India, but raised in New York City my entire life- as you can imagine, I’m used to cabs honking, impromptu subway break-dancers, tall skyscrapers, and noise, lots and lots of noise.  I love anything that has to do with Winnie the Pooh (who doesn’t love a cuddly big brown bear?) and am a huge fan of frozen yogurt. I don’t eat chocolate, but could probably add caramel to about 95% of my meals. Oh and I am obsessed with Ryan Gosling, but then again, who isn’t?

 

2. What are you most passionate about?

About making changes and moving forward. As cliché as it may sound, I believe that we all possess the ability to advance towards improvement as long as we work together.  When it comes to women’s issues, I am very focused on trying to open up novel doors and opportunities that women have not been previously rewarded.  We live in a time where women, especially women of color, have proven themselves to succeed in every field and discipline, and it’s time that they are recognized for these achievements.

 

3. How do you define “feminism”?

Feminism is an intellectual, political and social movement that advocates for women’s rights and opportunities in each of those grounds. Very often, the ideas behind feminism have been criticized for being “sexist” and “overly-assertive”, but I believe it is more of an initiative towards bringing to surface issues that affect women, with the support and help of every individual. I don’t think feminism is a battle of sexes at all- in fact, I think it’s working together to fight for equality.

 

4. Why do you identify yourself as a feminist?

People are scared of the “F” word or being identified as a feminist because of the way media has misconstrued it and paralleled its meaning with negative stereotypes of being anti-male. But for me, it’s not that. I am a feminist because I care to define, establish, and defend rights of women who are inherently humans.  It’s something I’m very passionate about, and therefore a huge part of who I am.

                                                   

5. Who or what inspires you?

My mother who proved that it doesn’t matter if you’re South Asian, a woman, or from a lower socioeconomic family background because you can make it anywhere in the world if you’re determined and hardworking. Elizabeth (Liz) Murray who followed her dream of going to Harvard University by overcoming obstacles of poverty, homelessness, and lack of support from her HIV- infected parents.  And author Jhumpa Lahiri for expressing in her writings how women too can assimilate into American culture while still maintaining their cultural roots. These examples of empowering women who have unbelievable strength to transform their own lives is what motivates me.


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Professor Marina McCoy

Department: Philosophy

Classes Taught: PULSE; Perspectives; Plato’s Republic; Plato’s Dialogues; Rhetoric: Truth, Beauty, Power; Intro to Feminist Philosophies; Love and Friendship in the Ancient World; Women, Nature, and Ecology.

 

1. Tell us a little bit about yourself.

I teach in the philosophy department and have been at Boston College for thirteen years now. I am a mom to two wonderful children, well, teens, and married to a print and web designer who also works at BC.

 

2. What are you most passionate about?

First and foremost, my family. Might sound like a funny thing for a feminist to say as her first priority, but it’s true. I’d never trade being a mother for anything else I’ve done. But I feel called to my work, too. Teaching students is a true passion and I continually learn from them. The college years are an exciting time in a person’s life to witness, as people discover more and more of who they are and the depth of what they have to offer the world. That’s a beautiful thing to see. I love doing prison ministry with a group of men I’ve visited for about seven years. Working with them has made me passionate about prison reform. I’ve found myself surprised by how much I enjoy writing, too, which is not something I took as much pleasure in while in graduate school. I feel blessed that there are so many things that I care about and that I have the opportunity to do what I love. I’m grateful.

 

3. How do you define “feminism”?

One of the points I make clear in my Intro to Feminist Philosophies class is that feminism isn’t a single set of ideas but rather a diverse set af approaches to questions of gender, and increasingly also to the ways in which gender intersects with race, class, and global economic inequity. In the public mindset, feminism is often associated with liberal feminism or radical separatist feminism, but there is an incredible range of thinkers who self-identify as feminist. That being said, my favorite definition of feminism is a well-worn one: “a philosophy that advocates the idea that women are fully human.”

 

4. Why do you identify yourself as a feminist?

Women still suffer because they are still not fully acknowledged in the wholeness of their humanity. The message is sometime subtler now than in the past, but I think we still have expectations of women that we don’t hold of men. At least, we still see the masculine as the norm and whatever is female or feminine as a departure from the norm, instead of seeing both as legitimate and important parts of the human experience. I’m also increasingly concerned about race and global inequity. Talking with students over the years has made me much more aware and passionate about racial inequity and the need for healthy and caring discussions about race between everyone.  It’s hard to imagine caring for justice for women but not caring for justice for everyone. Tackling racism has to be a feminist issue for women of all colors and backgrounds.

 

5. Who or what inspires you?

Jesus is my model of what it means to be fully human, though I don’t claim to live up to it. His compassion and care for everyone, especially those on the margins or who don’t quite fit into social expectations, that inspires me. Also, the natural world of plants, trees, animals, the ocean, probably helps me to have the most perspective on what is long-range. Watching the seasons change or the ocean tides come and go helps me to see the value in change and process over the long haul rather than focusing on short-term successes or failures. The language I would use is that God’s activity working through all things, not just human beings. Knowing that God keeps working, as we “plant the seeds” as parents, educators, friend, is a great comfort in the face of day-to-day challenges.


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Claire Geruson

Lynch School of Education, 2013
Majors: Theology and Elementary/Special Education

1. Tell us a little bit about yourself.

I was born in Philadelphia, PA and I live and breathe for all things Philly. I graduated high school first in of my class because we graduated in height order. I have an overabundance of energy, I LOVE to laugh, and hate being told to speak more quietly. I am typically 5 to 1o minutes late for everything. I love running and attending retreats.  I thrive off of real, honest, challenging conversations: talking to people, fighting for people’s rights, listening well and trying to learn how to love. My favorite jobs at BC have been working for Campus Ministry and Campus School. One of the biggest joys and privileges I have had was the chance to study abroad in El Salvador in fall 2012.

2. What are you most passionate about?

I am passionate about teaching in typical and atypical settings. I am passionate about proving that the classroom can exist outside of a building. I am passionate about fighting for justice and equal access to all forms of education. I work to prove there must be an intersection between faith and theology and justice to effect change.

3. How do you define “feminism”?

I would say feminism is the practice of acknowledging that negative gender stereotypes and inequalities based on gender/expression exist. These individuals/institutions then actively choose to rebuke prejudices by fighting for equality of personhood regardless of gender or gender expression.

4. Why do you identify yourself as a feminist?

I am tired of ridiculous double (or any) standards on the basis gender and biological gender vs. gender expression. Also, I identify as a feminist because, as a person who practices a religion, I am really ready for equality on the basis of sex/identity in the Catholic Church. I think that identify, acting, and living as a feminist will begin to deconstruct issues of machismo and discrimination at BC, in my Church, and in our society.

5. Who or what inspires you?

“It helps, now and then, to step back and take the long view. The Kingdom is not only beyond our efforts, it is even beyond our vision. We accomplish in our lifetime only a tiny fraction of the magnificent enterprise that is the Lord’s work. This is what we are about:

We plant seeds that one day will grow.
We water seeds already planted, knowing that they hold future promise.
We lay foundations that will need further development.
We provide yeast that produces effects far beyond our capabilities.
We cannot do everything, and there is a sense of liberation in realizing that.

This enables us to do something and to do it very well.
It may be incomplete, but it is a beginning,
a step along the way…”

Monseñor Óscar Arnulfo Romero quoting  Bishop Ken Untener


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Lizzie Jekanowski

College of Arts & Sciences, 2013
Majors: Political Science & History, Minor: Women's & Gender Studies

1. Tell us a little bit about yourself.

I’m from a tiny, po-dunk town in Middle of Nowhere, Western Massachusetts, where I grew up on a sheep farm.  As you can imagine, this upbringing led to a bizarre assortment of life skills including animal vaccination, birthing, and artificial insemination.  I live and breathe Harry Potter, I have a strange obsession with unicorns and ugly sweaters (especially when combined), and I believe everything can improved with the addition of glitter.

2. What are you most passionate about?

The right of every person—female, male, or otherwise—for access to comprehensive sexual health education, and to contraceptive resources and procedures.

We live in a time of fear, ignorance, and intolerance of sex and sexuality despite their worldly realities, and this is forcing millions of people into an archaic system that restricts life-saving supplies and information.

Every educated person has the ability to make decisions for oneself and one’s own body, and each individual should be given the respect and freedom to do so.

3. How do you define “feminism”?

It is the mutual respect and strength among the sexes to live in this world without fear of shame and injustice.  This means providing not only the equal opportunity to employment and education, but also to a lifestyle without prejudicial judgments or expectations absurdly based on biological sex.

4. Why do you identify yourself as a feminist?

It is as natural to me as breathing.  To not be a feminist (a. k. a. sexist) is as if I shouldn’t be a considerate human being.  What nimrod truly wants a world of persecution and disadvantage?

5. Who or what inspires you?

A whole host of people who encompass strength and tolerance in a myriad of different ways: Queen Elizabeth I for making power and intelligence sexy, Britney Spears for her confidence in her unapologetic sexuality, Buffy the Vampire Slayer for teaching me from age 10 that its cool to both be a girl and kick some butt, and my mother who battled nearly twenty years of Lyme’s Disease while raising two bonkers kids and birthing sheep in thunderstorms.

My greatest inspiration however, is seeing like-minded women and men who are determined to, through respect, love, tolerance, and strength, improve the lives of each individual and change the world.


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Angela Donkor

College of Arts & Sciences, 2012
Majors: International Studies, Political Science

1. Tell us a little bit about yourself.

My name is Angela Donkor and I was born in a small town called Konongo in southern Ghana. When I was six years old, I moved to another small town just across the world to Bassano Del Grappa, Italy. Moving to Italy was a great experience for me. I made many friends; I learned Italian, Spanish, English and French while I was there. I loved the food, the people and in my town. Then in 2006, after living in Italy for 10 years, I moved to the United States. To say the least, my life has been very global and as a result of that, I have encountered people from all walks of life.

2. What are you most passionate about?

I am passionate about traveling. I like to be a foreigner in other people’s country and discover new cultures. I have a passion for tennis, gymnastics and swimming.

3. How do you define “feminism”?

I define feminism as sisterhood. I know that many people have stereotypes about feminism but for me, being a feminist means that I am in sisterhood with every woman.  Traveling around the globe had made me realize that women all over the world are in search for the same thing. They want their voices heard, they want to matter and they want respect. Together, we can help each other achieve these things.

4. Why do you identify yourself as a feminist?

I define myself as a feminist because I believe that women need to be in solidarity with each other.

5. Who or what inspires you?

I am inspired by all those who do not let their circumstances stand in the way of what they can do. I am inspired by the courage of those who speak out against injustice because they understand that they cannot be free unless all are free.


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Andrea Chudzik

Lynch School of Education, 2012
Majors: Secondary Education, English

1. Tell us a little bit about yourself.

II'm a goofy lady with an appreciation for mittens, yoga, and traveling.  I hope to teach internationally as I prepare to become a middle school or high school English teacher.  After a semester abroad in Cape Town, South Africa, I'm looking forward to reuniting with fellow Hello...Shovelhead!ers, mentors and students in the College Bound program, and DJs at BC's very own radio station, WZBC 90.3 FM.  Perhaps I will re-launch my feminist talk show "Girl Power Hour" in the fall, but until then I will be enjoying music I can boogey to and life back in good ol' New England.

2. What are you most passionate about?

My heart beats a little faster when I get my hands on some clay or cello strings, and when I can work with young adults and help them find what they’re passionate about.  I love studying and discussing educational policy and women’s rights, especially as I've become more involved with activism through Crystal Talia's "Creating Social Activist Images" course (it's amazing and highly recommended for those of you interested in social justice/responsibility).  Although I feel it's important to be passionate in many areas, I'm learning how to narrow and deepen my focus to enable positive, lasting change.

3. How do you define “feminism”?

To me, feminism is recognizing that there is still much progress to be made in regards to women rights around the world.  I do not see it as a blame game, but rather a call for all people to work together for equality.  There are certainly many different kinds of feminism, such as radical, liberal, Marxist, etc., but I think all forms are based in the awareness that more must be done.  Until women are encouraged to feel proud of their body images rather than ashamed, are empowered to pursue any field of interest rather than discouraged, are completely protected from atrocities such as human trafficking, and until we all work towards such goals together, feminism remains an important movement. 

4. Why do you identify yourself as a feminist?

Advocacy for women's rights does not stop at voting rights - inequalities exist despite our universal freedom, and now more than ever, there need to be men and women who are willing to create change.  I can't choose what pictures go into magazines and what television shows go on the air, but I can spread positive messages to and about women in the spheres available to me.  Through the radio station's airwaves I can interview female artists about their inspirations, I can participate in WC programs on campus, and I can stimulate conversations about feminism and social justice when the opportunities arise.  If someone doesn't consider him or herself a feminist, I'm confident it's largely to do with a lack of education about these issues.  A feminism course isn't the only way to spread this awareness - open minds and taking the time to explain different points of view are critical as well.

5. Who or what inspires you?

Brave, compassionate people inspire me, and those who take risks to benefit others remind me that all forms of kindness require effort.  Nelson Mandela has become one of my role models since traveling to South Africa, and the peaceful ways in which he has united the country's citizens is beautiful.  On a lighter note, Tina Fey kicks some serious toosh.  Strong, funny women like her fuel who I've become, and I aspire to be a similar influence for the kids and adolescents I work with year-round.


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Sergeant Anthony Cadogan

Boston College Police Department
Rape Aggression Defense (RAD) Program, Club Drugs

1. Tell us a little bit about yourself.

I have been employed here at BC for the past 22 years where I spent ten years in Dining Services and twelve in the Police Department. I migrated from the island of Barbados 24 years ago.  I was promoted to Sergeant four years ago and I now oversee the R.A.D program. I am also a Sexual Assault Investigator and conduct informative session on the dangers of drugs and effect of alcohol. I am very engaged with the BC community to ensure the safety of the staff, students, faculty, and visitors. I am currently in the woods school completing a degree in Sociology.

2. What are you most passionate about?

I am most passionate of the program in which I oversee, which is the R.A.D (Rape Aggression Defense) program. The Rape Aggression Defense System is a program of realistic self-defense tactics and techniques for women. The R.A.D. System is a comprehensive, women-only course that begins with awareness, prevention, risk reduction and risk avoidance, while progressing on to the basics of hands-on defense training. R.A.D. is not a martial arts program. I have been an instructor for ten years now and not only do I teach here at BC, I venture out to other communities that may need assistance. If I can prevent a female from being a victim or sexual assault survivor, that truly makes my day. I have been fortunate, that females who have taken the class have benefitted from it, especially those who have travelled abroad.

I spent several years in Dining Services so I am also passionate about cooking. I believe the most and definitely tops the list of things that I am passionate about is “Life”. Having to wake up every day healthy is a blessing and I strive to make the best of it.

3. How do you define “feminism”?

Everyone seems to have a different idea of what feminism is. Men seem to consider it an effort to depower them and for women to become superior, rather than for women to simply empower themselves and rise up as the equals of men, giving men nothing to lose from the deal.

4. Why do you identify yourself as a feminist?

I identify myself as a feminist because I support and believe in women’s’ rights. I have no problem being label such and I am thankful to be in the field that I am in to help women. Being a sexual assault investigator also solidifies my commitment in defending and promoting women’s’ issues.

5. Who or what inspires you?

I have always pondered the question on who inspires me, but I focus more on what inspires me, which is seeing people develop and grow and make a positive impact on their lives and community. Watching someone overcome the challenges they face also inspires me. Some people may have a dream and to be a part or help them fulfill that dreams is also rewarding. The people who have overcome adversity and have withstood all the challenges that life has put forth for them, and they accomplish what they set out to do.

The person who has most inspired me is my mom. I was an only child for years and watched my mom worked to just to maintain the lifestyle that we had. I have seen people who I grew up with in some bad situations right now but my mom kept on me to do homework, be strong, and her lessons have taught be to be independent, compassionate and caring.


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Khloe Scurry            

Arts and Sciences, 2012

Major: Sociology / Minor: African and African Diaspora Studies, Womyn and Gender Studies

 

1. Tell us a little bit about yourself.

I am from Dallas, Texas and a Southern girl that struggles with the idea of chivalry and debutante balls.  I came to Boston College as a Finance major and am leaving a Sociology major, all thanks to one class that I took my sophomore.  Because of this class and the professor, someday I hope to get my Ph.D. and be a professor too.  I love the idea of exposing people to a new way of thinking.  That’s why I am involved in FACES and going to be a teaching assistant for Introduction to Feminisms.

2. What are you most passionate about?

I am most passionate about educating others on things that they have never thought twice about, particularly in the realm of their own privilege.  That is not to say I want people to feel bad about it, but rather I want them to see the benefits that they were born into that others were not.  It is my hope that by learning about their privilege, they will be slower to judge and come to assumptions about others.  Maybe even become more proactive about being an advocate!

3. How do you define “feminism”?

I saw a saying on a sticker once, and for me, it has become my own definition: Feminism is the radical notion that womyn are people.  Too often people get caught up in the progress that womyn have made thus far.  As great as that progress is, there is so much further to go.  The fact that things are still labeled “womyn’s problems” although the population is split nearly 50-50 with men and womyn is a tad counterintuitive.  Womyn’s problems should concern the entire population.

4. Who or what inspires you?

As strange as it sounds, inequality inspire me. Every time that I see it, in any shape or form (whether it’s race, gender, sexuality, ability or whatever), a fire inside of me ignites and I become angry.  However, for me, anger is the biggest motivator.  It motivates me to try as hard as I can to make a change.


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Professor Judith Wilt

Department: English
Classes Taught:  Nineteenth Century British Women Writers, Woolf and Hemingway: Manhood and Womanhood

1. Tell us a little bit about yourself.

I came to BC in 1978 and retired in June 2011, though I will still teach an occasional course here (one on the Novels of Dickens in fall 2011 for instance).  I was already very interested in feminism in the 1970’s; one of the first courses I taught here was called “Literature in a Man’s World.”  I discovered BC’s unique Introduction to Feminisms course, which was then meeting in the Women’s Center, and helped to stabilize that long-lasting course.  I was part of a group that founded the Women’s Studies Program in the ‘80’s and served two terms in the ‘90’s as the first female chair of the English Department.

2. What are you most passionate about?

Well, off the top of my head I’d say -- literature itself, and more deeply, the pleasures and values of the reading-experience, the way reading stimulates and integrates curiosity, delight, learning, and self-scrutiny, and stimulates those contradictory/complementary desires both to be alone in a writer’s imagined world and to talk to other people about that world.  Eventually “literature” came to include books, plays, film, TV, and all the more contemporary visually intense forms of storytelling and world building in video games and other media.   I have a passion for traveling as well, and for Renaissance music and early rock, for medieval and nineteenth century painting, and for art deco jewelry.

3. How do you define “feminism”?

I guess I define it in several ways.  Historically feminism is an attitude that begins with the notion that BOTH women and men are endowed with qualities – intelligence, creativity, compassion and endurance, ambition and sexual desire – which are sometimes stereotypically assumed to be stronger in one gender than the other, and that cultural factors are probably more responsible than biological factors for the persistence of such stereotypes.  Academically, feminism is always interested in recovering from history examples of women (and men) whose intelligence or creativity or endurance or compassion has differed from the stereotype, or whose general “humanist” attitude has had a “feminist” aspect to it. And “theoretical” feminism is still engaged in interesting meditations on the linked – but not identical—concepts of “sexuality” and “gender.” The history of feminism during my lifetime has included efforts to better understand how all these factors might take somewhat different shapes in different national or racial cultures, efforts to better enable women (and men) to understand their own genuine individual talents and desires and to make choices of work and family life based more on this and less on culturally ascribed “roles,” and efforts to understand the long history of same-sex relationships whether viewed psychologically, sociologically, or as sexuality.

4. Why do you identify yourself as a feminist?

Because It is one of the key movements of my time, to which I’ve contributed and from which I’ve benefited, and because the arguments within feminism as well as those around or against feminism continue to provoke fruitful reflections on my life inside myself and with other people and with the world itself.

5. Who or what inspires you?

I’m inspired by the example of other specific people, living and no-longer living, by precious examples of joyous creativity and difficult thinking and heroic action (I include under ‘action’ such things as Virginia Woolf’s long battle to understand life and create fiction, right up to the moment of her suicide), and by the belief, traceable probably to my early delight in the theological writing of Teilhard de Chardin, that I in my way and all of us in our time are part of a human effort that has a spiritual and divine aspect, to which it is good to “witness.”


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Katie O'Dair

Office of the Vice President for Student Affairs
Assessment for Student Affairs

1. Tell us a little bit about yourself.

I have been at Boston College for seven years, and currently serve as the Executive Director of the Office of the Vice President for Student Affairs office.  I live in Watertown and on any given day I am balancing work, school, relationship, friends, family, and my athletic interests.  I love to write and so I combine my love of writing with my love of swimming in a weekly blog. For my doctoral research, I am investigating how master’s students engage with the university and how the university supports them; they are often a neglected group and there is little to no research on the master’s student experience.  I also love working with and mentoring young women who want to go into the field of student affairs.  I am a voracious reader and enjoy history and non-fiction the most.  I am currently reading Mika Brzezinski’s “Know Your Value” and highly recommend it.  My guilty pleasure is watching Real Housewives.  It’s so abhorrent but I can’t stop watching.

2. What are you most passionate about?

The short answer is that I am passionate about most everything in my life: family, work, athletic interests, and academic pursuits.  If you asked most of my friends and family, they would say that I feel strongly about a lot of things that occur in our world, large and small. If you asked my partner John he would say I get a little too passionate watching the news or reading a newspaper. I do my best to have patience when people act or speak out of ignorance, even with things that seem inconsequential. For example, I can’t tell you how many people believe that Title IX is exclusively about women’s sports replacing men’s sports on college campuses.  Title IX is about civil rights, giving opportunity for women in an academic setting. Many people have used collegiate athletics to attack Title IX, setting up a misguided belief that when women win men lose. It’s not true, but it takes conversation and education to de-bunk that myth.

3. How do you define “feminism”?

I think that feminism is when women believe we can do something without worrying whether we will be limited – in policy, practice, or spirit – by our sex. It’s about confidence and assuming the best of people’s intentions, not the worst.  It’s also about appreciating that women and men are different, that we bring different strengths to this world.

4. Why do you identify yourself as a feminist?

I guess the simple answer is that I don’t know any other way to be.  It is part of how I was raised, it’s part of who I have surrounded myself with in my life, and it’s part of what I have chosen to do with my work and who I work with. But then again, I identified as a feminist back in the eighties when it wasn’t very cool to be a feminist.

5. Who or what inspires you?

My grandmother, mom, and sisters inspire me.  They are all strong, independent women who show how feminism is about bringing your strengths to anything you do.  They are an accomplished group – whether you call them wife, mother, nurse, physician, veterinarian – they made (or make) significant contributions to so many people’s lives.  And not all lived in a time period where that was valued, but still persevered. I give my mom and grandma a lot of credit.

Oddly enough, I am also inspired by men who advocate for women’s issues.  Perhaps this should not surprise or inspire me, but I find myself fascinated by men who go out of their way to break down stereotypes or speak of their own experience with women’s equality. Perhaps this shows my own bias that I don’t think we are quite there yet as a society.


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Abby Letak

College of Arts & Sciences, 2012
Major: Sociology / Minor: Italian

1. Tell us a little bit about yourself.

I grew up in Minnesota, and am a Midwesterner through and through (it’s “pop,” not “soda”). I’m a sociology major because I love studying why people do the things they do. I’m really artsy and do everything from painting to mosaics. I’m known for being really passionate about things. I’m crazy about TV, and plan on studying it after I graduate. My most recent obsessions are The Good Wife and Arrested Development. Eventually I want to go into academia and hopefully teach about television or gender studies.

2. What are you most passionate about?

Truthfully, television. Ever since high school I’ve been an avid TV watcher. I’m planning on writing my thesis about Lost, actually—people usually think I’m kidding when I tell them that. Most people view television as a waste of time, but I’d argue that certain shows—especially modern-day quality comedies and dramas like Lost, Dexter, The West Wing, Mad Men, and Sex and the City—help us to engage with and think about issues that we wouldn’t otherwise encounter in our daily lives. These shows raise the same issues that a lot of us study in our classes—for one of my sociology courses, I wrote a 15 page paper on how Dexter raises the same questions about authenticity and performance in social situations that Erving Goffman does in his work. I’ve had countless conversations with people about the shows I watch and the issues that they raise. Almost everyone loves seeing movies and watching television, and there’s a reason for that. I think it’s about time we all stop feeling so ashamed about it.

3. How do you define “feminism”?

Feminism for me just means equal economic and social opportunities for everyone, regardless of gender. Feminism gets such a bad rap—I know so many people who either (a) are feminists and afraid to advertise it or (b) think they hate feminism when in reality they believe in what it entails. I would classify a lot of the people I know as feminists, but when I tell them that, they deny it. Limiting feminism to bra-burning and unshaven legs is like limiting Catholicism to Opus Dei. There are always extremes—but we shouldn’t let that distort our viewpoint.

4. Why do you identify yourself as a feminist?

I believe that every individual should have equal social and economic opportunities regardless of the gender to which they ascribe. Yes, I wear make-up and shave my legs—that’s not what it’s about for me. It comes down to equality and respect. Many aspects of modern society foster power imbalances across gender—a prime example is the hook-up culture. Ever notice that there’s no male equivalent for the word “slut”? The hook-up culture is great in many ways but I think it puts girls in a tough spot sometimes—caught between wanting to engage in it and wanting to avoid stigmatization. After three waves of feminism, women are still fighting in their everyday lives for equality and respect. On the societal level, women are still making less than 80 cents on the male dollar—that’s horrifying!

5. Who or what inspires you?

That’s a tough question to answer, because there’s no one person or one thing that I draw inspiration from. What I’ve found really inspiring in my life, though, is when my friends and/or family have been there for me in times of need. There’s nothing more amazing than one person being there for another. Anyone who has ever been through a rough time knows that. I think just watching people try to do their best is really inspiring. In the face of knowing that perfection is unattainable, some people never stop trying to better themselves, and I think that’s truly incredible.


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Carolyn McCrosson

College of Arts & Sciences, 2012
Major: English / Minor: French, Photography

1. Tell us a little bit about yourself.

I’m a book reading, rugby playing, French speaking, world travelling, art making whirl wind of adventure. I try to squeeze every minute out of the day because I am involved with a lot of different groups. I’ve recently become a food snob although, somewhat ironically, there isn’t a lot I can eat. I have a little sister who is one of my best confidants. I’m president of the GLC and I can’t wait for senior year to start!

2. What are you most passionate about?

Photography is my passion. My dream job would be as a fashion or travel photographer. I love the human body and I think that it’s a very powerful thing to capture, no matter what the shape.

3. How do you define “feminism”?

Feminism is a state of mind that allows me to be strong and confident about who I am, not only as a woman, but also as a person. Feminism is about being able to speak out when someone says something that doesn’t jive with your beliefs. I don’t like when people say derogatory things about women, so I say something about it. Feminism isn’t necessarily confrontational however; letting people know that you don’t support the language or attitudes that degrade women doesn’t have to be point of argument. When you say what you believe, a lot of times people will respect that.

4. Why do you identify yourself as a feminist?

I’m a feminist because I take care of myself mentally, spiritually, and physically. Feminism isn’t about hating men or any of the stereotypical images with which it’s associated. When I take care of myself, when I respect myself as a person, that is when I’m proclaiming to the world that I love myself as a woman, and no one can take that away from me. Through taking care of and respecting myself, I can show other women that they don’t have to degrade themselves in order to be recognized in the world.

5. Who or what inspires you?

I don’t know if I can specifically pinpoint one person or thing that inspires me. I get a lot of my artistic inspiration from things that I see every day. I really like Marie Antoinette…why? I’m not actually sure; it might just be because I like Kirsten Dunst in the movie. But other than that, I would say I’m very inspired by anyone who gets out in the world and makes a difference no matter what the scale. For example, my fifth grade teacher used to send school supplies to kids in Bolivia and she would have us bring in various items every couple of months. I don’t know how she got involved with it, but I remember being really impressed with her generosity.