May 1st, 2013

Featured Feminist: Hana Hyseni

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, WRC, 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.

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Featured Feminist: Ogechi-Leah Musa

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.

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Featured Feminist: Amelia Blanton

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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?).  And, I’m engaged to the love of my life, Bill, who I’ve known since the first day of college.

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)

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Featured Feminist: Nanci Fiore-Chettiar

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.

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Featured Feminist: Katy Wilson

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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

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Featured Feminist: Ines Maturana Sendoya

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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.  

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March 13th, 2013

Featured Feminist: Michelle Dyer

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Name: 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.

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February 18th, 2013

Featured Feminist: Mara Renold

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Name: 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. 

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Featured Feminist: Charissa Jones

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Name: 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 hierarchical 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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February 6th, 2013

Featured Feminist: Amy Boesky

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Name: 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!



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