January 31st, 2013

Featured Feminist: Ashley Nguyen

Name: Ashley Nguyen

School & Year: College of Arts & Sciences, 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.



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January 23rd, 2013

Featured Feminist: Peter Folan

Name: Peter Folan

Department: First Year Experience

Assistant Director, Program Manager

Questions

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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Name: Ashley Branch

School & Year: A&S 2014

Major(s): Psychology and 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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November 19th, 2012

Featured Feminist: Professor Elizabeth Rhodes

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Profile

Name: 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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October 22nd, 2012

Featured Feminist: Pooja Shah

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Name: 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 “ovProxy-Connection: keep-alive Cache-Control: max-age=0 ly-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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October 2nd, 2012

Featured Feminist: Marina McCoy

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Name: 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.


Questions

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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September 10th, 2012

We have recently stumbled upon this article and found it quite a conversation starter. There has been a great response in the media regarding Anne-Marie Slaughter’s views including the following: http://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2012/06/we-need-to-tell-girls-they-can-have-it-all-even-if-they-cant/259165/

Any comments, thoughts, reactions? Let’s talk about it! Write a post below!

September 7th, 2012

Featured Feminist: Claire Geruson

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Name: Claire Geruson

School & Year: Lynch School of Education, 2013

Majors: Theology and Elementary/Special Education


Questions:

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 thePProxy-Connection: keep-alive Cache-Control: max-age=0 xy-Connection: keep-alive Cache-Control: max-age=0 asis 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 seProxy-Connection: keep-alive Cache-Control: max-age=0 2Fidentity in thProxy-Connection: keep-alive Cache-Control: max-age=0 Catholic Church. I think that identify, aProxy-Connection: keep-alive Cache-Control: max-age=0 ing%2Proxy-Connection: keep-alive Cache-Control: max-age=0 and living as a feminist will begin to deconstruct issues of machismo and discrimination aProxy-Connection: keep-alive Cache-Control: max-age=0 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 Proxy-Connection: keep-alive Cache-Control: max-age=0 complish 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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April 10th, 2012

An Actor Speaks Out Against Patriarchy

In response to articles of commenting on a change in her appearance, Ashley Judd responded with an article in the Daily Beast that attacks patriarchy and calls attention to the way that women are just as responsible for the perpetuation of patriarchy as men. This is not usually an intentional or pointed effort on part of women, but rather an internalization of patriarchy that comes from a variety of sources such as the media and the society in which one grew up. Check out what Judd had to say and think about the ways that you can be more careful about not injecting patriarchy into your own life and relationships!

http://feministing.com/2012/04/09/ashley-judd-nails-patriarchy/

March 12th, 2012

Featured Feminist: Angela Donkor

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Name: Angela Donkor

School & Year: A&S ’12

Major(s) / Minor(s): International Studies and Political Science

 

Questions

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