THE POLITICS OF
the debate on
THE LIBERATOR OFFICIAL PUBLICATION OF THE LIBERAL ARTS COUNCIL UNIVERSITY OF TEXAS AT AUSTIN | MARCH 2, 2015 | ISSUE 14
Photo by Karan Mahendroo
INSIDE THIS ISSUE
03 Presidential Predictions
The Intimacy Equation
The Truth About the Unpaid Internship
Professor Spotlight: Gautami Shah
The Road to Equality
04 The Transgender Transition The Strongest Women
18 Campus Updates
Reasons Why My Anaconda Doesn’t: Feminism Behind Hollywood’s Hottest
The Scholar: A Hostage to Writer’s Block
14 The Politics of Poetry
OPINION Women in the Workplace
Closing the Gap: Taking Steps Towards Equal Pay
A New Education 17 STEM vs Liberal Arts Dichotomy
Photos by Betsy Joles, Karan Mahendroo and Creative Commons
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THE LIBERATOR | MARCH 2, 2015| ISSUE 14
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Julianna Clark Omar Gamboa Amanda Garcia Cyrus Huncharek Betsy Joles
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PREDICTIONS A C L O S E R L O O K AT T H E 2 0 1 6 E L E C T I O N S
My mornings typically start with a muffin, my “Ready for Hillary” mug, and the Huffington Post. I have received more twitter notifications regarding the potential candidacy of Mitt Romney in the past week than the attack led by Boko Haram in Niger and other neighboring countries. In one of my government classes, my professor spent almost 15 minutes positing whether Chris Christie’s reputation could be salvaged for the sake of securing the republican nomination. Googling “2016 Presidential Candidates” yields over 81,500,000 hits and is increasing on a daily basis. Why is everyone so focused on 2016? Our country is fixated on presidential political predictions. This could be attributed to the human desire to look forward rather than take action in the political gridlock we have today. Then again, the media’s fixation with presidential campaigns is not a novel development. Much like Target and Christmas decorations, the media is enthused to begin positing potential candidates far too early. I’ve bought into the hype and now find myself with both a Clinton bumper sticker and coffee mug. The question is, of course, why we are focusing on the future rather than address present concerns and legislative issues. Is it because the past
two years have decreased American political apathy? In 2013, Congress was rated as less popular than both cockroaches and toe fungus. In 2012, President Obama entered the presidency with the most clearly divided voter turnout in political history. The year 2015 holds the allure of novelty, hope, and fresh faces and has the potential for political compromise. Since the media has already commenced with naming possible candidates for the presidency, let us enjoy and explore their pre-mature predictions. For democratic candidates, it would appear that Hillary Clinton is the frontrunner and most publicized. Elizabeth Warren and Joe Biden have also been discussed. Hillary Clinton and the “Ready for Hillary Campaign” have dominated the presidential speculation campaign. With the presence of buses, campaign stickers, and media uproar, the upward supportive trend for Hillary appears to eliminate any possibility for another democratic nominee. Clinton has been asked on numerous occasions whether she plans on running for president and has continuously, yet politely rebuffed the question. Her novel “Hard Choices” appears to subtly hint at her internal debate. Her twitter bio ends with the phrase: “TBD…” The media has closely scrutinized her actions and possible motivations. The birth of her granddaugh-
ter was seen as a potential deterrent. While the 2008 campaign fizzled out early, Clinton might be waiting to announce her 2016 candidacy. Elizabeth Warren has frequently denied any desire to run for the presidency. Her analytical tactics and fresh gaze have been met with warm reception to the public. Now let us venture to the republican side and see which candidates the media has precipitated. The frontrunner for the republicans would appear to be Jeb Bush. He is George H. W. Bush’s son and is a former republican governor of Florida. He has been receiving an uncanny amount of media attention regarding his possible presidential run, his stances on immigration, and his “be my own man” foreign affairs policy. In December, Bush declared that he plans to “actively explore” the possibility of a presidential run in 2016. However, Ted Cruz, Rick Perry, Ben Carson, Sarah Palin, and other republicans have expressed interest in potentially pursuing the presidential nomination as well. Mitt Romney, quite recently, bowed out of the 2016 race. On his way out, he denoted the importance that “America elect a conservative leader to become our next president,” and emphasized the
“WILL EMPHASIZE HER GENDER IN HER 2016 RACE FOR THE PRESIDENCY IN PART AS REACTION TO THE BELIEF THAT IT WAS A MISTAKE NOT TO HAVE DONE SO IN 2008”
importance of allowing “other leaders in the party the opportunity” to compete for the presidency. His decision to completely remove himself from speculation was lauded by multiple political figures. Jeb Bush, another popular republican candidate, made a public statement on Facebook regarding Romney’ decision. New candidates with fresh ideas decrease widespread political apathy. It is equivalent to the hype and interest a football season would receive if two brand new teams were playing after years of watching the same two teams tie for every game. Clinton and Bush running against each other could hardly stir hope within the American public since both of those names stir up tumultuous political histories. However, the public is interested and excited. This is the chance to start fresh, to begin anew with optimism, anticipation, and the potential for different and viable presidential candidates. This is not to say that previous years have been wasted, but no one can deny that Congress has been at an impasse for some time now. The presidential run of 2016, and the potential it has to break the deadlock Congress is currently in, brings hope to all no matter if you are an elephant or a donkey.
ACCORDING TO A RECENT ARTICLE BY THE WASHINGTON POST
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Pull up Google and type in “famous transgendered people”. Recognize anyone? The results a quick internet search provides reveal that the topic of transgender is no longer one of confusion, myth, or secrecy. The controversy of having a sex change has not disappeared. That is too much to hope for, too soon. Instead, a type of cease fire or grace period has taken hold of the country as more and more transgendered characters are introduced in television series, novels, documentaries, and comics. Hopefully, exposure and immersion will dispel some of the prejudice people have against the transgendered community. Today, the entertainment industry is not only accepting, but highlighting, fictional and non-fictional transgender characters in major and successful productions. For example, Kurt Sutter, writer and producer for the hit show, Sons of Anarchy, created a beautiful scene where characters Tig, an outlaw biker, and Venus, a transgender prostitute, confess their love for each other. This plot development was not only a hit with viewers, but also touched the cast and crew as well. Kim Coates, the actor who plays Tig, described the reaction of the crew when Tig and Venus had their first kiss on set to NYMags.com saying, “All the boys watched on the monitor and said, ‘That’s the sweetest thing I’ve ever
seen.’” It is a daring move for a director to risk his sky-high ratings by creating a potentially controversial character but if done well, the public seems to barely blink an eye. Now, for all those comic diehearts out there DC Comics recently announced that Batgirl would be featuring a transgendered character named Alysia Yeoh. This decision by writer Gail Simone is both groundbreaking for the LBGTQ community and revolutionary in promoting toleration and acceptance. Simone defended her character by saying, “I wanted to have trans characters who aren’t fantasy-based. [Alysia will be] a character, not a public service announcement… being trans is just part of her story.” If America’s Next Top Model is your drug of choice, then you know season 11 was especially avant-garde. Isis King made her debut in the entertainment world when she was featured in a documentary called Born in the Wrong Body: On the Edge that premiered in 2007. Tyra Banks, creative director and producer of America’s Next Top Model, noticed and encouraged King during Cycle 10 auditions. Isis King made America’s Next Top Model history when she was selected to compete on the show for season 11. King
The new Secretary of Defense may be ushering in a new era of openness in the American military. Recent remarks made by Ashton Carter and the White House have raised the hopes of advocates that the nation’s ban on openly transgender soldiers may be starting to crack. - TIME Magazine
GENDER F RMATI N
was highly successful on the show and received many positive reactions from not only viewers but also fellow contestants. In an interview with Janet Mock, King mentioned, “We live in a world where kids grow up and are educated by T.V. The more we stand up and say, ‘This isn’t right’, the more they will learn.” Today, she is a motivational speaker, a fashion designer, and a model that is determined to stay true to herself. Even if you have never seen it, you have to have at least heard of Orange is the New Black. First aired in 2013, the crime-comedy show was a major hit. Laverne Cox played Sophia Burset, a transgendered woman in jail for credit-card fraud. Due to her excellent performance, Cox made history by being the first transgender person to be nominated for an Emmy in the acting category. She was featured recently, along with Carmen Carrera, on Katie Couric’s show, Kaite. During this interview, Katie Couric wanted to discuss the medical side of the transgender process, genital augmentation especially. Cox veered the invasive conversation in another direction. “I do feel there is a preoccupation with that. The preoccupation with transition and surgery objectifies trans people. And then we don’t
get to really deal with the real lived experiences. The reality of trans people’s lives is that so often we are targets of violence. We experience discrimination disproportionately to the rest of the community. Our unemployment rate is twice the national average; if you are a trans person of color, that rate is four times the national average. The homicide rate is highest among trans women. If we focus on transition, we don’t actually get to talk about those things.” As Isis King said, we live in a society where children learn from television. Hopefully, with the recent inclusion of transgendered characters in the media spotlight, the next generation will be more tolerant and curious instead of judgmental and insensitive. After all, where is the censure and discrimination towards breast implants, hair extensions, liposuction, nose jobs, hair-dye, eyelash extensions, protein powder, plastic surgery, need I continue? It is slightly hypocritical, is it not, to judge these people for changing their bodies when almost everyone on this earth does something equivalent to change how they look in order to be more confident. So stop hating, stop judging, and start showing some compassion for people who simply want to reveal their inner beauty to the world.
“In May, ‘Orange is the New Black’ transgender star Laverne Cox appeared on the cover of TIME. Earlier this month, Amazon’s “Transparent,” which focuses on a family with a transgender father, won the Golden Globe for best comedy series. And, ...for the first time ever, a president said the word “transgender” in the State of the Union address.” - The Washington Post
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Three times the size of the United States, with 1.1 billion people, and an estimated 1,750 languages, Africa is a place filled with diverse lives and stories. On this vast continent, there are stories of women starting businesses, ending armed conflicts, and leading nations. Some of these incredible stories are written about women living with HIV/AIDS. These women move beyond societal pressures to empower themselves and others through becoming business women, political activists, and caregivers in countries such as Ghana and South Africa
The Foundation for AIDS Research reports that over 70% of people living with AIDS are in Sub-Saharan Africa. The region has an overwhelmingly disproportionate number of AIDS deaths, an estimated 1.1 million people have died in the region out of a total of 1.5 million AIDS deaths worldwide. African women constitute the majority of those with AIDS. The same organization found that 58% of people living with AIDS in Africa are women. 60% of new infections of young people (age 15-25 years) are girls and young women. Many African societies reflect a culture that privileges men and masculinity, what Adichie characterizes as the “hard man” mentality of Nigeria. In these societies women are not often in a place to negotiate sex. In countries like Ghana and South Africa, it is the men who decided when to have sex, with whom, and if protection will be used. Ignacio Cruz, a Communications and BDP of Human Rights and Social Justice senior said, that “a man is the man...they are treated with more deference and respect; going back to ideas about men as providers of the family.” Cruz is part of the University of Texas student organization called Partnership for Development in Ghana, a Liberal Arts Council LAASO. Every year, a group of UT students travel to Ghana as part of the Community and Social Development Maymester. Cruz and other students work with various organizations including The Almond Tree Project.
“.. And he was right, that day many years ago, when he called me a feminist. I am a feminist. And when I looked up the word in the dictionary that day, this is what is said, ‘Feminist: a person who believes in the social, political, and economic equality of the sexes.’” -Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Part of the larger West Africa AIDS Foundation, the Almond Tree Project is a group of 50 or so women who come together to support one another and gain personal independence. The women of Almond Tree make handcrafted products that they then sell to support them and their families. The women of Almond Tree support each other by sharing entrepreneurial techniques that let them thrive individually, “They learn how to be their own boss,” said Cruz, “it destigmatizes the issue and counters their feelings of worthlessness. They see the life they want to create for themselves.” During their Maymester in Ghana, Cruz and his
In a country where sex is not discussed openly and there is little governmental support, many women keep their status secret for fear of being shunned by community and family. classmates worked to teach these women sustainable business skills, “They want to learn how to balance their finances, how to make a profit, and other business techniques.” Women with AIDS in Ghana are highly stigmatized. In a country where sex is not discussed openly and there is little governmental support, many women keep their HIV/AIDS status a secret for fear of being shunned by community and family. Therefore the women of the Almond Tree Project also support each other through socializing, “[meetings are] a time for business, but it is also a time for them to talk, chat, and see how everyone is doing. They have a community of understanding people that can be a shoulder to lean on,” Cruz mentions.
in the nation-building process since the collapse of Apartheid. The constitution has gender equality provisions, dozens of laws have protected women’s rights, and women constitute many governmental positions in the parliament and cabinet. Hence, Dr. Liverman of the department of African and African Diaspora Studies believes that AIDS centered feminism is not a new social movement, rather a “continuation of this long history of gender equity.” With the influence of female empowerment and AIDS activism in South Africa comes from both the government and non-governmental organizations, who have instituted various measures to promote AIDS prevention and treatment, such as adequate medical care, establishing social institutions, and promoting acceptance through the media and arts. In addition these bodies have tried to address deeper problems in South Africa such as poverty and education. AIDS is one of the largest problems facing Africa. Women in various parts of the continent are not only disproportionately affected, but hindered by societies that stigmatize those with the virus. Women with AIDS, in disparate parts of the continent, are working together to better theirs and others lives through social supports, legal provisions, and economic independence.
JULIÁN MUÑOZ VILLARREAL
South Africa, in turn, has a longer history with feminism then other parts of the continent. Women have been politically active
South Africa 54 million people
3.3 million women over age 15 living with AIDS
24 million people
120,000 women over age 15 living with AIDS
175 million people
2004: Women’s Manifesto for Ghana was signed, demanding economic, political, and health equality
1.6 million women over age 15 living with AIDS
1954: Black Sash was formed, one of the first women-led resistance movements during Apartheid 41% of parlimentary seats held by women
8.3% of parliamentary members are women
Feb. 11, 2015: A law passed that outlaws HIV/AIDS-related discrimination THE LIBERATOR | MARCH 2, 2015| ISSUE 14
EXCERPTS FROM DR .
“36 QUESTION ’S S THAT LEAD TO LOVE”
THE INTIMACY EQUATION
some science behind the dating game
SET 1 Given the choice of anyone in the world, whom would you want as a dinner guest? When did you last sing to yourself? To someone else? Name three things you and your partner appear to have in common. For what in your life do you feel most grateful?
Is there something that you’ve dreamed of doing for a long time? Why haven’t you done it?
Alternate sharing something you consider a positive characteristic of your partner. Share a total of five items. How do you feel about your relationship with your mother?
SET 3 Complete this sentence: “I wish I had someone with whom I could share ... “ If you were going to become a close friend with your partner, please share what would be important for him or her to know. Share a personal problem and ask your partner’s advice on how he or she might handle it. Also, ask your partner to reflect back to you how you seem to be feeling about the problem you have chosen.
Unless you were living under a rock earlier this winter--or in a Facebook-less existence-- you likely saw The New York Times publish a testimony-style article enticingly titled To Fall in Love with Anyone, Do This. In it, the author, Mandy Len Catron, recounted her experience testing Social Psychologist Arthur Aron’s procedure for building intimacy between two individuals. The process involves two people sitting across from each other and going through a list of 36 questions. The questions come in 3 phases--each phase escalating in how personal the content is. In responding to these questions, the process encourages expressing insights and giving genuine compliments. At the end of the questions, the individuals silently stare into the others’ eyes for four minutes. In Catron’s case as well as some of the study participants, the result was a romantic relationship. In Aron’s original study, conducted in 1991, one of the participant pairs actually ended up getting married. [If you would like to read the report of the original study, you can find it in the UT database under the title Experimentally induced closeness, Ego Identity, and the Opportunity to Say “No”.] As this kind of experimental manipulation demonstrates, researchers have, for decades, proposed that the need to connect with another human being is a fundamental necessity for humans. Given this fact, Catron’s experience utilizing Aron’s experiment opens the door to some interesting questions and revelations about the process of building intimacy in relationships, romantic or otherwise.
GOING DEEPER Psychological research supports the
notion that intimacy is a key component to the creation and maintenance of any close relationship. Dr. Jennifer Beer, a professor and researcher in UT’s psychology department, has used Dr. Aron’s procedure with brain-damaged patients as a form of rehabilitation. Comparing the results of her study to Catron’s experience, Dr. Beer says, “What is important to realize about this girl’s experience is that both people were open to falling in love, the interest was already there. With brain damaged
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patients, when the experimenter goes through the questions with the patient, you see that [the questions are] creating closeness and building intimacy at a rapid rate.” So what is going on, exactly, over the course of these questions that build genuine closeness? “What [Dr. Aron] really facilitates [with this experiment] is a process of reciprocal disclosure, which is key to the development of close relationships. You can’t just have one person pour their soul out and the other give nothing. So if you were trying to get closer with someone you couldn’t just tell them everything about you, it has to happen both ways.” Intimacy is created through this process of reciprocal self-disclosure and interpretation between two individuals. Essentially, when one offers up some information about his or herself and the other, through the filter of their own traits and perceptions, gives their interpretation, to which the first responds, repeating the process. If this sounds familiar, it should. It’s what people do when they’re dating. “What’s really cool [about Aron’s questions is] that they’re split into the three parts. The first being a slightly deeper level than just small talk, “What would be your perfect day?” for example-not the kind of thing you would ask a random stranger on the bus but not a very private subject. Then, by the third set, you’re talking about very personal things. At the end, you know a whole lot about the person, the equivalent of what you might get from several months of dating,” says Dr. Beer.
MATCHING INTENSITY Obviously, if unfavorable reactions
are inspired by the disclosure in real dating situations, a red flag goes up for the individuals and the process slows or ends. However, if there is an imbalance in the amount of information disclosed, the intimacy-building process is negatively impacted as well. “It is really important that the two individuals are matching in emotional intensity with what they’re sharing. The rate doesn’t really matter as long as they’re both on the same page. Some couples might be really emotionally intense and get into personal details really quickly, while others might move
at what seems like a dripping pace. As long as both individuals are happy to move at that pace, any rate is fine,” says Dr. Beer on the subject. This sharing and responding is the central component of building intimacy and is the process invoked, procedurally, through Aron’s 36 magic questions. His study, granted, is a manipulation. However, it is meant to facilitate a process that is natural, not to produce fake feelings, but rather to provide an avenue for genuine connection. Embedded in the questions, for example, are instructions for the individuals to respond to their building connection. These items include asking them to share positive characteristics of each other or to list three things they think they have in common. These points give them the chance to show that they have been actively engaged in the conversation and listening to the answers provided by each other.
ELUSIVE ATTRACTION It goes without saying that this process
can only facilitate what already has the potential to exist. Without some additional spark of mutual interest and attraction, the carrying out of this activity is not going to amount to wedding bells for two strangers. Interestingly enough, shared attitudes and beliefs may not be a huge factor in this matching process for those who do end up having romantic interest in each other. “Research shows that we’re actually really bad at predicting what we want out of a relationship. Matching attitudes matters far less than we would have thought,” says Dr. Beer. In other words, having a list of checkboxes for a potential partner to meet is not as good of a strategy as it may sound. Seeking a partner that meets specific criteria is not predictive of relationship satisfaction or success— in dating or in marriage. Basically, the research says that you shouldn’t limit yourself or rule people out because they don’t seem like your “type”. “If that mutual interest is there, it really is worth giving it a shot and spending some time with them to see what happens.”
KELLY DE MOYA
the truth about the
Unfortunately, many Liberal Arts internships are unpaid. For the employer, there are obvious advantages to having unpaid internships. Unpaid internships are a cheap and effective recruiting strategy, and employers can save even more money if the intern is eventually hired because the company would not have to pay as much in training-related costs. However, in recent years there has been a lot of debate concerning the legitimacy and legality of unpaid internships. Following what’s been dubbed the “Black Swan Incident” in 2013, where interns from Fox’s film Black Swan sued the company for not being paid, a lot of unpaid internships have come under fire. There are quite a few disadvantages that students have to face when considering going into an internship unpaid. Student debt is much higher than it used to be. In 2012, according to The Project on Student Debt, 71% of all students graduating from four year colleges had some form of student debt. The average level of student debt in 2012 was $29,400, compared to the year 2004, when average student debt was $18,750. For many students, the cost of living combined with the cost of education is simply impossible to afford without a paid job. Costs of commuting to and from work is also a financial concern for students. In addition to that, recent studies have shown that unpaid internships are only slightly more effective at helping students land jobs than not having an internship at all. The National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) released new statistics
concerning internships in 2013, and the results were less than encouraging. According to the NACE, 37% of unpaid interns received at least one job offer, compared to the 35.2% of people who had no internship on their resume and the 63.1% of interns who were paid during their internship. Another disadvantage is the potential loss of other opportunities, like study abroad, which could also help on a student’s resume. All of that being said, there are undeniable advantages of an internship, regardless of whether or not the internship is paid. The most obvious advantage, naturally, is the experience. Students in internships are given the opportunity to demonstrate abilities that they have and apply what they’ve learned in the classroom to real-world situations. Lauren Mills, an International Relations Major in the College of Liberal Arts, had an internship with Annie’s List. “The experience helped me narrow what I might want to do in the future after graduation,” said Mills. “At the end of my internship, Annie’s List had a private meeting with each intern and helped us translate what we did to skills and experience on our resume and tried to set us up with any contacts that could help with our future goals.” Internships allow students like Mills to pursue their potential job field interests and can give them leverage against others competing for the same jobs; employers
tend to favor applicants that have held an internships within the company because those applicants are already at least marginally familiar with the company’s inner workings. An additional advantage to unpaid internships is the networking opportunities that students gain by being placed in their desired field of work. Students can make connections in the working world that might potentially help them upon graduation. For some students, unpaid internships are more desirable because some universities and colleges don’t allow paid internships to count as credit toward classes. Within the College of Liberal Arts, both paid and unpaid internships are acceptable as credit for internship courses, which are open to all Liberal Arts students, so long as they have at least 30 credit hours and are in good academic standing. As for undergraduates looking into applying for an internship, Mills gives some advice on the matter: “Make sure the place you are interning at has a developed internship program to make sure that you are actually getting valuable skill sets and are able to network in the industry. Try to seek places where administrative work or data entry is less than 25% of what you will be working on. You will want to get hands on experience and become a part of the organization and culture of where you work.”
Paid Interns That Received A Job Offer Unpaid Interns That Received A Job Offer
Applicants That Received A Job Offer with No Internship Experience THE LIBERATOR | MARCH 2, 2015| ISSUE 14
& the experience of college
In South Asian culture, respecting teachers is considered sacred. It is a theme that not only can be found through a variety of historical texts and scriptures but also an idea that is preached in every household. I grew up listening to my parents reminisce about the relationships they shared with their college professors—professors that created an emotional or academic impact in their careers. During my trip to India, I was able to meet my father’s mentor, his professor from thirty years ago. I was both fascinated with imagining him learning and making decisions in an educational institution like me and shocked at the picture of my father sporting a moustache. I met my Hindi professor, Gautami Shah— who hereafter will be respectfully called Gautami Ji—two years ago. Being a part of the Hindi Urdu Flagship program, I was required to take a discussion course in Hindi a year ago. To be honest, I did not pay much attention in this class and was not a star pupil. This particular spotlight, admittedly more personal, is not about an academic epiphany I had during her class. I was simply and unfortunately average with a grade that matched my enthusiasm. When I was asked to write a spotlight on a professor that was married to another UT professor in honor of Valentine’s Day, I immediately thought of Gautami Ji. Unlike my contributions in class, I was more than capable of finding out background information about my professor. I learned that she was married to a Statistics Professor on campus by the name of Dr. Peter Mueller. I thought she would be perfect for this spotlight and expected to learn more about her experiences. What I actually learned turned out to be the academic epiphany I was searching for in college, a feeling of respect connecting me to the experiences of my parents.
STANDING OUT IN A CROWD
To provide some background information, Gautami Ji majored in Psychology in India. In a judgmental South Asian society that revered engineers and doctors, Gautami Ji proved to be a maverick of her time. After taking her first anthropology class, her interests soon morphed and she became passionate about understanding the relationships humanity shared with each other. Oxford English dictionary describes anthropology as, “the study of human races, societies, and cultures,” but at the time, Indian society saw it as a major to interact with the native tribes of the region. It was not given the same respect bestowed to a student who majored in engineering or medicine. Gautami Ji was, in all honesty, a pioneer in a society struggling between modernist and conservative thoughts. Gautami Ji further channeled her passion for anthropology by completing her graduate studies at Purdue University. On the first day, she met her husband who was, at the time,
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a graduate statistics student on a Fulbright Scholarship. What brought the two together was the International Student Center, an initiative designed to raise cultural awareness and foster community among international students. Smiling, Gautami Ji retold a story, in which she had asked Dr. Mueller to dance with her at a party. He refused. Rather than letting this experience affect her night, she continued to the dance floor to dance. Many years later, she found out that he rejected the offer because he could not dance. This humorous anecdote illustrates an important point tied to experiences and perspective.
College is an era of transformation, transforming oneself emotionally, physically, and mentally. Gautami Ji learned how to make a decision, to take responsibility, grasp opportunities when she saw them, and explore herself. College was a time of transformation for her, where she could ultimately grow. She could throw out ideas, have debates with friends throughout the night, and understand the importance of perspective, her ideas, and how they related to others. She was able to transform and change herself- change her own perspective and ultimately, explore. This spotlight is not about her “research” but her search of perspective throughout her life. Today, she teaches an elective on the transformation of the South Asian movie industry of Bollywood and its perspective on society and the representation of women. Today, she teaches a Hindi class, intended to help students learn a new language. Language is another form of perspective. Gautami Ji does not want students to think in English when they speak Hindi. She expects her students to think in Hindi not only to increase fluency but to allow them to experience a new perspective.
Perspective. I cannot think of a professor who has defined and made the meaning of this word more ambiguous. She has travelled to more than thirty countries since college and has mastered more than seven languages. Those are her experiences and her perspective. Ultimately, Gautami Ji taught me to reassess and understand my own story, to take advantage of the experiences in front of me. As I conclude this spotlight, Gautami Ji challenged me to understand my passions and my interests. She challenged the meaning of perspective, an idea that she has championed her whole life. As I culminate this spotlight today, I am thinking of my perspective, my story, and the decisions that I will make. What is yours?
Photo by Betsy Joles
FROM WORDS TO LIVE BY | INSIGHTS PROFESSOR SHAH
“The person you must be most answerable to is yourself and live with that decision.” “Everything in life is about layers” “it’s your life, you have to answer to yourself”
THE ROAD TO EQUALITY A Brief History of the Feminist Movement
In today’s world, even on a major college campus like UT, it is not uncommon for any mention of feminism to be met with frustrated groans and the rolling of eyes. Whether you say the word a little too loudly in class or include it in a comment online you are bound to get some backlash. Men and women alike seem eager to dissociate themselves from the feminist label, which begs the question: what does it really mean to be a feminist? Where did all of this animosity come from?
The term feminism was originally coined in 1837, but the story of feminism, especially the story of feminism in the United States, did not really began until The Seneca Falls Convention of 1848 where Elizabeth Cady Stanton’s “Declaration of Sentiments and Resolutions” called for expanded property rights and suffrage for women. Early first wave feminism had close ties to the abolition movement. Fredrick Douglass attended the Seneca Falls conference and early feminist Sojourner Truth advocated for the rights of both Blacks and women. The movement stalled during The Civil War, but in 1866 Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B Anthony founded the American Equal Rights Association in order to promote universal suffrage. Other major names in first wave feminism include Myra Bradwell, Frances Willard, and Matilda Joslyn Gage. The combined efforts of these women resulted in the passage of the 19th amendment in 1920 gave every woman in the United States the right to vote. This major milestone is widely considered the conclusion of first wave feminism.
Now here comes the second wave. The 1950s and 1960s brought with them new challenges for women of the time. Those who sought to overcome these challenges and break the existing mold of femininity allowed the second wave of feminism to gather momentum. Simone de Beauvior’s The Second Sex and Betty Friednan’s The Feminine Mystique defined this wave and helped it to pick up speed. These influential novels introduced new issues to the scope of feminism such as reproductive rights, the portrayal of women in the media, and the career limitations faced by women as a result of motherhood. One major success of second wave feminism was the passage of the Equal Rights Movement in 1963. This was followed by the legalization of birth control for married couples in 1965. Throughout the early 1970s progress continued with the illegalization of gender discrimination in public schools and universities as well as the addition of gender as a protected class under The Fair Housing Act.
A New Era?
No we are not quite done yet, there is a third wave. Or is there? Historians admit a certain level of ambiguity concerning the end of second wave feminism. It is fairly widely accepted that a transition from second to third wave feminism took place sometime in the late 80s or early 90s, though some feminist scholars believe the second wave movement is still occurring today. First named in 1992 by Rebecca Walker, third wave feminism is recognized as a shift away from the legal and institutional goals of the earlier movement and instead towards aims of sexual liberation and the abatement of traditional gender roles. New media has ushered in an era of feminism unlike anything seen before. An entirely new breed of feminist icons are encouraging the women of today to define femininity and sexuality for themselves. While men, more so now than ever before, are being invited to join the conversation and help eliminate traditional gender stereotypes. Some historians believe the third wave has come to an end and that we have reach an era of post feminism, but there is lively debate about whether men and women have really reached a point of equality or even near equality. “I think it’s great that girls today have role models like Beyoncé and Emma Watson, but I also think seeing women as leaders in business and technology fields could make a greater impact,” commented Arti Kumar, a business student and active member of the Women in Business club here at UT. “I definitely don’t believe we can say that the goals of feminism have been met”, said freshmen Sree Lingam. “It’s cool coming to place like Austin and seeing how educated people can be, but we still aren’t there yet.”
Breaking the Taboo
What about those boys groaning in the back of the class every time feminism is mentioned? “I definitely understand why guys shy away from the topic sometimes. It’s difficult because as men, they can’t really say that they directly identify with the problems faced by females,” explained Jonathan Lu. “Still though as an engineering student, I definitely see a gender gap and I know that working towards equality is important for people of both genders.” Maybe they are just intimidated after all. So why do so many people seem to reflexively lump feminism in with anti-man extremist ideology? Should we, as a society, be any more threatened by the concept of feminism than we are by the concept of powerful women raised in a truly equal opportunity environment? One thing is for certain; in order to address these issues we are going to need to get much more comfortable with using the f word.
FEMINISTS Through the Ages SUSAN B. ANTHONY An Abolitionist: active in the
movement since age 16; took part in the Underground Railroad A Suffragette: spearheaded the ramification of the 19th Amendment with her lifelong friend, Elizabeth Cady Stanton.
GLORIA STEINEM A Writer: published
the article “After Black Power, Women’s Liberation”, establishing her as the foremost feminist leader A Founder: founded the Women’s Media Center, which promoted women in the media
An Artist: Released her
first solo album in 2002 after a successful period with the girlgroup Destiny’s Child; released a self-titled secret album in 2013 with feminist references and influences A Role Model: Half-Creole and half-African American, a role model for young women of all races
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LOOKING CLOSER AT
LOVE WHAT REALLY MAKES US ALL TICK
Flashback several centuries to Ancient Greece and the home of the first toga party. Apart from its’ letters being the basis of America’s Panhellenic system, Ancient Greek civilization had seven main words to describe different types of love. Eros meant sexual passion or erotic love. Philia denoted an affectionate friendship. Ludus was a playful love. Agape meant love for everyone or the love of God for man and of man for God. Storge meant love or affection and typically described the love between parents and children. Pragma described the longstanding, enduring love typically found between husband and wife. Lastly, Philautia meant love of self or self-respect. What the Ancient Greeks split up into many words, English combined into one to three words: love, lust, and like. Unfortunately, over time the word “love” became the end all be all word to describe all the Greek categories of love. This led, and continues to lead, to confusion between people endeavoring to express emotions however small or large. Computer science student Eder Garza believes “in this society, [love] lost its meaning.” By pouring too many various meanings into one word, “love” evolved into a meaningless word, especially among millennials. On the other hand, American writer Carson McCullers explains this difference in perspectives, emphasizing “Love is a joint experience between two persons -- but the fact that it is a joint experience does not mean that it is a similar experience
to the two people involved.” In this case, the diverse numerous meanings do not necessarily detract from the love’s utility but enhances the description of different loves experienced. Andrea Ramirez, an education major, adds “love has a universal meaning which people define different ways. I think you know when to say it and when you actually mean it and when that actually happens it’s like the best feeling in the world… After it doesn’t work out you learn how to
into falling in love. First, they sit facing each other and ask one another thirty-six increasingly intimate questions. Afterwards, without speaking, the two stare into each other’s eyes for a whole four minutes. The entire process is meant to break the walls people normally put up in everyday life and relies heavily on neurological reactions. In the initial stage of attraction, two peo-
use it more wisely, less frequently.” Thus, despite the confusion, love is entirely real, deeply felt, and capable of shaping a person’s perspective. As Plato said, “love is the joy of the good, the wonder of the wise, the amazement of the Gods.” Fortunately, love, like earth’s gravity, continues to affect everyone whether understood or not. Even better, Arthur Aron of State University of New York of Stony Brook devised a way to compel two strangers
ple’s bodies produce testosterone for males and estrogen for females which leads to a mutual feeling of lust. Next, the stress response kicks in as adrenaline and cortisol fill their blood. This makes the heart race, mouth become dry, and palms sweat. As their attraction foments, their brains release the pleasure chemical, dopamine, giving them a small high similar to that of narcotic drugs. Over time, their serotonin levels lower to equal that of people suffering from obsessive-compulsive dis-
order causing them to constantly think of each other. Finally, a physical connection induces them to produce oxytocin, the love hormone, and vasopressin, an antidiuretic hormone, upon orgasm. These two hormones are believed to interfere with dopamine pathways which could explain why erotic love fades while attachment grows. Some scoff at this chemical approach to analyzing love because they believe there vastly more factors than just chemical regarding humans falling in love. However, James Wadman, a recent neurobiology graduate, emphasizes with “the millions of firing neurons being in the right time and place in this one little nook of an infinite universe and having enough thoughts and feelings align perfectly with another person…even describing love with pure science is like describing something magical.” The science behind this complex emotion only serves to enhance and beautify the various meanings and perspectives humans poor into love. So in a world of limited terminology and increased scientific awareness how is the deeper and lost meaning of love reclaimed? Think before speaking. Communicate love, of all types, using more than just three words and only state it when truly meant. If this feeling penetrates to your deepest core of being, declare and live love passionately and with purpose. Love bravely. Love fully. Love genuinely. JULIANNA CLARK
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MY ANACONDA DOESN’T The Feminism Behind Hollywood’s Hottest
Body Confidence Undoubtedly, there was no escaping Meghan Trainor’s booty anthem, “All About That Bass,” last summer. The song spent an impressive eight consecutive weeks at number one on the Billboard 100, topped the national charts of over 50 countries, and has even earned Trainor two Grammy nominations for Record of Year and Song of Year. For many, Trainor’s debut single serves as a feel-good ode to body positivity. Trainor has earned many fans by releasing a self-esteem song that celebrates women with full figures rather than encouraging them to adhere to the stick-thin showbiz standards of beauty. One of those fans, Christine Nbemeneh, a Liberal Arts Honors junior, says this about “Bass”: “it’s important to love your body, but it’s also important to respect yourself. ‘Bass’ accomplished both of these necessities.” Another hit summer song – Nicki Minaj’s “Anaconda,” essentially a 2014 update of Sir Mix-a-Lot’s hit “Baby got Back, was also dedicated to celebrating curvy women. While “Anaconda” didn’t achieve the same type of chart success as “Bass”, Minaj garnered worldwide attention on the Internet for “Anaconda” by simply releasing the single’s album artwork and music video. When the single was finally available a week later after the release of its artwork, critics praised the song not only because it counters a culture, in which larger women face body shaming, but it also reverses the common narrative in which females’ sense of sexuality are only worthy of appreciation when it pleases men. Skinny Shaming While both songs present memorable messages of body positivity for fullfigured women, these songs have also been criticized for failing to be inclusive of women of all sizes, namely women with skinny body types. In “Bass,” Trainor seems to send a mixed message of body acceptance. Although she sings that we are all “perfect from the bottom to the top,” she goes on to mock women whom she deems “skinny b*****s.” Several critics have highlighted this contradiction in Trainor’s message. To some it seems “Bass” preaches body love for women of all sizes except for women who are skinny. Trainor has said that the “skinny b*****s” line was simply a joke and that her hope for “Bass” was to inspire people to love their bodies. But if that was her intent, does including the term “skinny b*****s” inspire feelings of acceptance?
Similarly, Minaj has also been accused on skinny shaming in “Anaconda.” While she praises women who are “gluteally gifted,” she does so by mocking women who lack those gifts, spending a whole verse tearing down women with skinny body types. Again it seems Minaj falls into the same trap as Trainor by praising one group of women at the expense of another group of women. However, Plan II Honors senior, Rosalind Faires, provides a different view of this controversial verse, “Anyone who is actually angry by ‘F*** those skinny bitches’ needs to take a hard, long look in the mirror and say...does the entire society reward thinness and can I maybe take a hit on literally one song. You can do it!” Despite Trainor and Minaj’s overt exclusion of skinny women in their self-love songs, it is important to remember that the majority of time, at least in pop culture and show business, it is often full-figured women who are excluded while skinny women are praised. This is not to say that the skinny shaming in “Bass” and “Anaconda” should be completely overlooked. However, these songs have a message of body positivity that for full-figured women, who have often felt excluded or unrepresented in movies or commercials.
to this common critique: “. . . people take umbrage with the fact that in ‘Bass’...one of the reasons that she gives for feeling body positive is because boys like a little ‘more booty to hold at night’... I don’t think that should be the only reason that you feel good about your body . . . I don’t feel that’s a reason to throw the song in the trash . . . especially since it’s framed within the song as something that her mom told her . . . It is just an older style of building up body positivity . . . it’s helpful to remind yourself that there are people who people who will like what you look like as well as yourself.” Unfortunately, Trainor has not addressed this issue directly in any interviews. So for now, fans are left with a mixed message on body image.
“I want to grow old without facelifts... I want to have the courage to be loyal to the face I’ve made. Sometimes I think it would be easier to avoid old age, to die young, but then you’d never complete your life, would you? You’d never wholly know you.” - Marilyn Monroe
Boys like A Little More… Another critique several have made about “Bass” is that it seems to assert that full figured women are only beautiful because men find them more attractive with lines such as “boys like a little more booty” included in the song. Faires provides an insightful response
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Pop Star Feminism One relevant topic Trainor has finally addressed is her stance on feminism, “I don’t consider myself a feminist, but I’m down for my first opportunity to say something to the world to be so meaningful. If you asked me, ‘What do you want to say?’ it would be, ‘Love yours e l f more.’” Unlike Trainor, Minaj is a self-
proclaimed feminist and unafraid to express this in her work. Throughout her career, she has consistently put forth a clear, sex-positive message that women should own their bodies and sexuality. However, Minaj’s feminist credentials are often questioned because on the surface, she seems to play the hip-hop’s misogynist rules that devalue women. After closer examination, it is easy to see that Minaj challenges and often mocks sexist hip-hop attitudes. For example, in her most recent single “Only,” Minaj mocks the sexist attitudes that resulted in countless rumors that she is sleeping with her label mates by providing a parody of the situation in her song. It is shame that there is still so much widespread confusion on what the term feminism truly even means. As a result, countless people reject the label of feminist without realizing the implication of such an action. According to Nigerian author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, the definition of feminist is simply “a person who believes in the social, economic and political equality of the sexes.” From that concise definition, it is clear that feminism is about empowering women. However, many seem to conclude that empowering women is synonymous with man-hating. It is doubtful that Trainor is adamantly against equality of the sexes, but it is probably due to this common negative assumption that many entertainers avoid the label of feminist. Therefore, it is refreshing to see a new generation of entertainers, including Minaj, that proudly proclaim themselves feminists. Overall, “Bass” and “Anaconda” haven commenced a wonderful dialogue on body image and feminism in mainstream pop-culture. Sarah Vaillancourt, a junior Psychology student, talks about the impact of these booty songs: “. . . I think that both songs are a good opener for the discussion that needs to be had about societal expectations of women and girls and what consequences they have on self esteem and confidence. Both songs can be very empowering, giving an anthem to girls that feel underrepresented and even ridiculed in the media and pop culture. But I think it is important, that moving forward we are careful to not bolster one beauty standard up while knocking another down or essentially replacing one beauty standard with another. I think that these songs are a step in the right direction for a more inclusive portrayal of women in the media, but there is still a ways to go.”
PHOTO FROM CREATIVE COMMONS
THE SCHOLAR A HOSTAGE TO WRITER’S BLOCK
Aren’t the Liberal Arts great? In no other type of class can you handpick your favorite social issue and logically mesh a discussion of it with your personal life story, some psychoanalytic theories learned in your psychology course, and Kevin Bacon. Yes, Liberal Arts courses are fun, but when it comes to the art of the essay, these courses can sometimes also cause heartache. Lately, I have experienced a form of mid-essay crisis, where I realize that I have spent much more time planning or learning about pop culture than actually writing. I have discovered that essays can destroy people’s days, tear families apart, and knock over telephone poles. In the last few months, essays have torn my self-esteem to shreds. I now know what writer’s block is and it is affecting all of the important aspects of my life.
Making my way through Quack’s, walking fast, pastries pass and I’m home bound. I claim the table nearest the window. I am excited to write my eightpage essay on Walter Benjamin until I open my laptop. The screen incessantly blinks “While,” reminding me of my progress. But I am confident. This is my third attempt of the week to write the first sentence, but now I dual-wield a macaroon and a large cup of coffee. I have energy. I prepare to chomp on the macaroon. Instead, I only bite the underside of my tongue. This is the third time this week that I have bitten myself. I want to cry, but can only slam the table and hope nobody saw me flinch. To them, it would appear I had been physically bested by a delicious baked
good. But I still have some confidence. Sure, I know I am smarter than this macaroon. I know Walter Benjamin much better than it ever will. I have a much higher chance of writing this paper than the macaroon, but then I think to myself, “Who is the one bleeding?”
South side walking it out through North Campus provides a scenic route. It is a twenty-minute walk to the six-pack from my apartment. Curving roads, trees, and squirrels abound. This is when my greatest inspirations arrive. I finally get an idea as the Union comes into the horizon. I approach the old building, eager to get every idea about Benjamin onto paper. Instead, I forget everything after the door’s metal handle electrocutes me. It has been cold and dry, relatively freezing at 50 degrees. My puffy sweater has turned me into a static electrical charge. I am like a jellyfish, except I never know how large the electrocution will be or when it will strike. The guy behind me is heavily bundled for his excursion through UT Antarctica. I hold the door for him as he cheers through his eyehole, “Dude I totally heard that!” I look at my fingertips wondering if there is a burn mark. This work of torture is the only thing I will remember from the twenty-minute walk.
My cat hears the secrets that I keep about Walter Benjamin when I’m talking in my sleep. As I have night terrors, I
mutter things like “No, no…. utopian and free… intermarriage, key…” and other unintelligible phrases. The kitten licks and wakes me, a reminder that class is in 10 minutes. I launch out of bed, slap on my death row sweater, and scurry out. I forget to feed the cat for the day. On my run to class, I cannot stop thinking of my nightmare. It was set in an alternate universe, one that sees the fascists win the war without nuclear technologies. Giant machines that resemble AT-ATs are dispatched to find and exterminate any intellectual that is against the regime. I happen to be one of those brave insurgents. The commanders of my platoon are highly mechanized versions of Benjamin and Liam Neeson. Both call me Biggie, because I am a hunk in my dreams. Neeson shushes our chess battle and whispers, “the end is nigh”. We arm ourselves, but before the AT-ATs arrive, I realize I am dreaming when my cat appears on my head, licking my earlobe and meowing for food. The dream is fading, so I ask Benjamin, “WHAT IS THE PASSWORD? HOW WOULD AUTHENTICITY PERMEATE ALL OF SOCIETY OUTSIDE OF ART? HOW WOULD…” But it is too late. He grabs hold of me and understands, but I suddenly cannot understand his language. I weep and flex my muscles as the AT-AT comes into sight. Instead of blazing lasers from its turrets, its entire being opens up like a book, oozing oily pages, and engulfs us all.
Now that I think of it, essays can also be a bit fun.
ANTIDOTES FOR WRITER’S BLOCK Change your perspective.
Stand on your head! Wear your girlfriend’s clothing! I don’t know, but while allowing your juices to sink into your head might be dangerous, anything is preferable to recreational drug usage... Different perspectives are the goal here.
A writer should be inspired by another kindred spirit’s efforts. Whether you would like to read literary or academic writing, let it all sink in! Even Stephanie Meyer might inspire some to say, “Wow, I can do so much better than this.”
Change your location.
Writing on a train is ideal, but an Austinite must make ado with the pedicabs, the e-bus, or horse carriages. Hopping from café to café works well, too, especially if your roommate watches “The Big Bang Theory” as you try to create.
Talk it out.
Discussions with classmates work wonders. Friends in a science or engineering field can set your logic straight. For filtering out the clutter in your ideas, explain everything to your cat or dog, which will nod or flinch when your emotions reveal the true interests.
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“Still I Rise” You may write me down in history With your bitter, twisted lies, You may trod me in the very dirt But still, like dust, I’ll rise. Does my sassiness upset you? Why are you beset with gloom? ‘Cause I walk like I’ve got oil wells Pumping in my living room. Just like moons and like suns, With the certainty of tides, Just like hopes springing high, Still I’ll rise. Did you want to see me broken? Bowed head and lowered eyes? Shoulders falling down like teardrops, Weakened by my soulful cries? Does my haughtiness offend you? Don’t you take it awful hard ‘Cause I laugh like I’ve got gold mines Diggin’ in my own backyard. You may shoot me with your words, You may cut me with your eyes, You may kill me with your hatefulness, But still, like air, I’ll rise. Does my sexiness upset you? Does it come as a surprise That I dance like I’ve got diamonds At the meeting of my thighs? Out of the huts of history’s shame I rise Up from a past that’s rooted in pain I rise I’m a black ocean, leaping and wide, Welling and swelling I bear in the tide. Leaving behind nights of terror and fear I rise Into a daybreak that’s wondrously clear I rise Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave, I am the dream and the hope of the slave. I rise I rise I rise.
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The Politics of
When talking about any type of creative art, the idea of high art against low art is presented. The world of creative art is often divided into the high-brow art in fancy galleries and the low art a person like myself, not endowed in the brushstroke department, could create. The debate then becomes this – why is my uneducated art less valuable, less ‘art’, than a million dollar SoHo painting? If the answer is lack of education, the politics of art becomes a socioeconomic problem. If it is because of my dainty hands or because the art world is considered a man’s world, it becomes a gender problem. If it is because of my ethnicity or heritage, it becomes a race problem, and so on and so forth.
The Question of Recognition
Poetry is no exception to the politics of art. Poetry. org describes high-brow poetry as poetry that “generally capture images vividly and in an original, refreshing way.” However, this is not the magical formula for what makes certain poems famous or considered “great”; the politics of representation in the poetry world, then, comes into play. In my personal encounters, the world of poetry does not fall in the category of a gender issue; I have studied Sylvia Plath as much as Walt Whitman. However I acknowledge that my view of poetry as encompassing of binary genders (exclusively male and female) is due to years of feminist struggles. As UT Professor Chad Bennett explained, “This question of recognition is an ongoing and urgent one.” It surpasses the quest for women to be recognized in the world of poetry to reaching for recognition for poets of color, non-binary poets, LGBTQ poets, and other groups of discriminated poets. We know the famous poet Audre Lorde’s view on the importance of poetry in representation, which she addresses in her appropriately titled essay ‘Poetry Is Not A Luxury’, but this concept of poetry, inclusive and important to all, has evolved over the years and continues to evolve even today.
A History of Poetry
To understand the tricky politics surrounding this discussion, we need some background on the history of poetry. “I think Robert Frost said it best, that ‘a poem is a momentary stay against confusion,’” Professor Thomas Whitbread proposes as the definition of poetry. In technical terms, though, Poetry.org defines poetry as “an art form in which human language is used for its aesthetic qualities in addition to, or instead of, its notional and semantic content.” Poetry began with the Ancient Greeks, who were “fond of relaying historical events in the form of poetry,” as Planet POV explains. This emergence of poetry as an art form immediately posed the question
of the politics of representation to the poetry world, as women at that time were illiterate and socially confined in many ways. Fast forward to the 1970s with the secondwave Feminist Movement, where women began intensely fighting for their rights in the private and public sectors. This is the turning point for women in poetry, when they began to be recognized and critically acclaimed. However,
“Poetry has the power to inspire and enact thought and change. It allows you to release the ideas that may be trapped within yourself.” -Joshua Nguyen this acclaim may not be as honorable or pure as the facts suggest. As Professor Bennett puts it, this recognition sometimes is one that “downplays the specificity of gender, race, and sexuality – as if the poetry is successful only to the extent that it transcends, rather than emerges from, those experiences and communities.”
Diffusing Exclusionary Lines
As the world of poetry continues to not totally include everyone, many argue that poetry is a luxury of the world’s inclusive groups: the rich, the white, the heterosexual. However, Joshua Nguyen from UT Spitshine, the spoken word poetry club on campus, explains that poetry is vital to the discovery and soul-searching of oneself, regardless of any separating boundaries. “Poetry has the power to inspire and enact thought and change,” he states. “It allows you to release the ideas that may seem trapped within yourself. It gives a voice to the voiceless.” If poetry is truly about the process of self-discovery, then it diffuses any existing, exclusionary lines and the world of poetry now rests solely on the individual poets. In conclusion, I too believe in Audre Lorde’s thesis that poetry is not a luxury. However, it is not suffice to say that poetry is a necessity and not make sure this necessity is available to all people. We must continue to break down the walls of exclusionary representation to build upon the importance of poetry for all people. As Professor Bennett exclaimed, “Can I imagine a world without poetry? Of course. But what a uniform, dreary world!”
Women in the
“I did not wake up like this,” tweeted Emma Watson after attending the premiere of Noah, an apocalyptic film she starred in. Although her tweet at the time referred to the line of beauty products she used to ready herself for the film’s premiere, it resonated with many women and became cultural shorthand for the increasingly popular notion that women—let alone men or single parents—can’t have it all.
Subscribing to Stereotypes
Despite the clamor of the conversation about work-life balance, women are still expected to care for children and perform domestic work. They work the “double shift,” laboring at their jobs during the day and coming home to raise the children and take care of other tasks. On the other hand, society expects men to provide for the household—which, to be fair, is a huge responsibility in itself—but otherwise, they are not expected to pick up the bulk of tasks around the home. Single parents have it even worse; society leaves them with few resources to maintain a remotely reasonable work-life balance. As for same-sex parents and other nontraditional couples, most of them do not have someone to look to for parenting guidance, even though over 3,000,000 LGBT adults have had a child. Putting thoughts of egalitarianism aside, women and men are still socialized to conform to societal stereotypes. While companies reward men who display “ambition” and “drive” with promotions, women who display the same potential are often labeled as “controlling” and “emotional.” This sort of gender stereotyping is epitomized in the biological clock. Women are expected to have children, conjuring images of a nurturing bond between a mother and a child, but having them before the age of 40—after which it is increasingly unsafe and more difficult to have kids—and maintaining a competitive career is difficult.
“Do I choose my job or having a family?” is a question that haunts many women’s minds as the climax of their career and the optimal time for childbirth coincides. At this point, pursuing a more flexible career is attractive, allowing a woman in this position to pursue a career and leave the office in time to pick up the kids from school or daycare. Working from home or at a workplace that provides on-site childcare is also an appealing option, allowing women to balance work with the demands of a family.
Women are taught they can “have it all”--an exciting career, children, and a life--but such a modern, utopian vision is nearly impossible to reach, and more so in male-dominated fields such as finance and science. In the former, 70-100 hour workweeks are not uncommon, and in the latter, the tenure clock is ticking to produce “groundbreaking” research or risk the loss of tenure and job. Even Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook’s COO and activist for women in the workplace, can’t handle it by herself. Penelope Trunk, an author and blogger on work and life, found out from Sandberg’s direct report that she employed “multiple nannies” for “around-the-clock coverage” to pursue her high-profile career at Facebook. “No one asks my husband these questions,” Sandberg pointed out in response to the questions she receives about her childcare arrangements. Similarly, Senator Ted Cruz’s wife, Heidi Cruz, relies on a live-in nanny to cover contingencies such as out-of-town work and occasional late nights in the office as a managing director at Goldman Sachs.
Opposite Achievement Gap
However, the situation is very different in college. Today, more women than men go to college. They go on to earn higher grades on average than their male counterparts, despite the fact that
more and more women come from disadvantaged or minority backgrounds. In an interview with the New York Times, Linda Sax, an associate professor of Education at the University of California, Los Angeles, said “Women do spend more time studying and their grades are better, but their grades are better even more than the extra studying time would account for.” According to the Times article, men are more likely to “skip classes, not complete their homework and not turn it in on time.” On the college front, women outnumber and outdo men academically. However, the same men –whether they slacked off in college or not– that graduate from college alongside these women are more likely to hold positions of power. It’s not an issue of schooling or academic inequality, but rather a matter of biology and culture. Most women would rather have kids than have a career. According to the Atlantic, “65 percent of mothers made family-related sacrifice [in the workplace], compared to 45 percent of fathers”--and reported higher levels of satisfaction than similar women who chose not to make work sacrifices. Even in progressive countries such as Finland and Sweden, both of which mandate by law generous maternity leave policies that pay most, if not all, of a women’s salary before and after childbirth, women are underrepresented in the executive ranks and in the ranks of elected legislators. Most women still want to have children, and as long as they are considered primarily responsible for their welfare, they will be forced to scale back their career ambitions. Women are inherently as capable of succeeding as men in the workplace. If they outnumber and outperform their male classmates in college, then they are surely capable of doing the same in the boardroom. However, even if they do so in the boardroom, then they still have to contend with nothing less than human nature.
GET THE FACTS
of Preschool 98% and Kindergarten teachers are women Women make up of the workforce
CEOs are 27% ofwomen Women only make
77 cents for every dollar
made by their male counterparts Mothers are the primary breadwinner for of households
(as of 2012)
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Closing the Gap In the United States, a woman has to work 60 more days per year in order to earn the same income as a man. The United States ranks 15th in pay discrimination. However, in recent years, the pay gap between men and women continues to close. In 1980, the pay gap was 36 cents, meaning a woman makes 64 cents to every man’s dollar. In 2014, it was 27 cents, meaning a woman makes 77 cents to every man’s dollar. Pay discrimination isn’t just a problem in the U.S but an international issue for the female population all generations, cultures, and ethnicities. The largest pay gap between men and women in the world is in South Korea with an appalling 37.5 percent difference. The second largest pay gap is in Russia with a 32.1 percent difference. A combination of education, occupation choice, and career interruptions has influenced the pay gap to shrink and explains why there still is a pay gap at all. One of the main factors when looking at the female employment rate throughout the United States is education. In cities where the women are more educated, there is a better chance that they will be employed. However, currently, there are more women than men who are getting educated, so education alone cannot be the deciding factor. According to a Pew Research Center survey, mothers, more than fathers, take interruptions in their career to take care of a child or family member. Sheryl Sandberg, Chief Operating Officer at Facebook and author of Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead, discusses challenges that keep women from achieving their goals in the work place. Sandberg advises women to find someone that wants an equal partner, which means each partner does half the work at home. By splitting the work at home and time spent with family or sick children, women wouldn’t have to take more interruptions in their career than their partner. Pay discrimination is still an issue for many female Americans. President Obama has addressed this issue of discrepancies in wages between men and women the past two years during the State of the Union. Last year, he declared his support for equal pay after stating
THE LIBERATOR | MARCH 2, 2015| ISSUE 14
Taking Steps Toward Equal Pay
the fact that women make 77 cents to a man’s dollar. He said, “That is wrong, and in 2014, it’s an embarrassment. A woman deserves equal pay for equal work.” He addressed the issue again this year when he recently said, “That’s why this Congress still needs to pass a law that makes sure a woman is paid the same as a man for doing the same work. Really. It’s 2015. It’s time.” Thus, President Obama shifted his statement from a general idea to specific plans for Congress to support. However, according to a Pew Research Center survey, only 72 percent of women and 61 percent of men agreed that, “this country needs to continue making changes to give men and women equality in the workplace.” This issue needs to become a more pressing issue for the public overall. If only 72 percent of women believe that changes in the workplace need to be made to ensure equality then the apathy of the other 28 percent sends a message to congress and the younger generation that equal pay is not important. This issue is still relevant for many Americans. In order to shrink the pay gap in the United States, more men will need to help take interruptions in their career for children or family members. To solve this problem on an international scale is more complicated; however, we will continue to close the pay gap as long as people around the world continue to voice their opinions. Hopefully, one day soon a woman won’t have to work 60 more days per year in order to earn the same income as a man.
A NEW EDUCATION The STEM vs. Liberal Arts Dichotomy
In the past few years, a larger and larger emphasis has been placed on what are dubbed the “STEM fields” of science, technology, engineering and math. These fields have been praised time and time again for the innovation they inspire and the job security they provide anywhere from the smallest of school districts to the White House itself. However, the liberal arts fields often get snubbed with it comes to education. The skills they provide aren’t seen as “job-getters” and many believe a liberal arts education as useless or irrelevant, not working to create a successful professional like the STEM fields do. But these perceptions could not be more wrong. To begin with, many believe the “STEM crisis” to be a myth. “Robert Charette, a contributing editor for IEEE Spectrum, reviewed ‘hundreds of reports, articles, and white papers from the past six decades’ to reach his conclusion that the case for a STEM labor shortage or surplus is not supported by the data,” reports Forbes. The “hard skills” offered through a STEM education are not the only key ingredients that lead to success in the workplace. The valuable “soft skills” a liberal arts education gives a student are beginning to gain more and more recognition worldwide. “Inside Higher Ed reported on a survey conducted for Northeastern University among hiring decision-makers nationwide,” reported Forbes. Six in ten of these business leaders responded that “softer” broadly applicable skills such as oral and written communications and problemsolving skills are most important for college graduates to possess. The survey also found that 84 percent of the business leaders believe the ability to think critically is just as important as the ability to think creatively.” From critical thinking to com-
munication skills, the professional world eral arts fields is what is necessary to be needs more people with a liberal arts skill- successful. While they seem to be in comset. Undervaluing the skills a liberal arts pletely separate worlds, they are more simeducation can provide is one of the main ilar that meets the eye. You might have the complaints of today’s workplace. most brilliant idea in the world, but if you Additionally, while the United can’t effectively explain your brilliant idea States is continuing to stress the importance to anyone it’s completely useless. of STEM, other countries around the world “I think the same way in critically are promoting a liberal arts education. The analyzing Mark Twain’s use of diction in Huffington Post recently published an ar- Adventures of Huckleberry Finn as I do ticle detailing the sucin finding the derivacess of India, a country tive of a vector in the “Liberal arts majors learn y direction in Calculus whose top universities focus on the STEM BC,” reports Dallas how to think—a skill that skills heavily, and their Morning News writer might have come in handy Melanie Shi. “At the recent push towards the liberal arts. end of the day, literafor Wall Street executives “Ashoka Uniture studies and engibefore they risked billions neering mathematics versity, a new liberal arts institution located vastly different of dollars of other people’s are near New Delhi, exsubjects, but both inemplifies India’s move money and ran the economy volve synthesizing intoward liberal arts,” formation and drawing into the ground. Such an reports Huffington connections between Post. “The school’s education also encourages parts and wholes while founding team of sucguided by established cessful businessmen students to develop a moral relationships. In this aims to provide Indian way literary analysis compass and understand students with a ‘welland calculus — and how things went wrong in more broadly, liberal rounded liberal education comparable to the and professionalhistory so we don’t repeat arts celebrated Ivy League ism — are virtually the same mistakes.” institutions.’” one in the same.” Commenting Time also com- U.S. News on India’s push for a mented on the liberal new type of education, arts vs. STEM dichotNandan Nilekani, former CEO of Infosys, omy saying, “students should be prepared remarked in the Huffington Post report that not just for their first job but for their fourth higher education “should not just provide and fifth jobs, as there is little reason to jobs but ways of thinking... Liberal arts doubt that people entering the workforce education provides the ability to walk into today will be called upon to play many difnew, uncomfortable situations, whether in ferent roles over the course of their careers. politics, sociology, or technology.” The ones who will do best in this new enThe general consensus seems to vironment will be those whose educations be that a combination of hard skills from have prepared them to be flexible. Those STEM fields and soft skills from the lib- with the ability to draw upon every avail-
able tool and insight — gleaned from science, arts and technology — to solve the problems of the future and take advantage of the opportunities that present themselves will stand themselves and the U.S. in good stead.” In 2011, Steve Jobs credited Apple’s success largely because it will forever be a place where “technology married with liberal arts, married with the humanities” will provide “the results that make our heart sing.” Some of the most successful companies in world pride themselves on fostering the combination of STEM and liberal arts – so why should our education systems today? U.S. News has also published articles detailing the value of the liberal arts in education. “Liberal arts majors learn how to think—a skill that might have come in handy for Wall Street executives before they risked billions of dollars of other people’s money and ran the economy into the ground. Such an education also encourages students to develop a moral compass (see previous) and understand how things went wrong in history so we don’t repeat the same mistakes.” The sweet spot where the hard skills of STEM and the soft skills of the liberal arts meet is where success is born. Integrating these two worlds into one education provides students with the keys for success. STEM’s value has been proven over and over again, but the liberal arts, however, often seem to carry the assumption that they don’t hold as much value as STEM fields or they don’t yield jobs as well. The skills gained from a liberal arts education create individuals who are highly valued in the workplace and beyond. Combining these areas into one education is truly the recipe for success.
“Whatever can be done by a computer will be done by a computer. The people who will succeed in more expensive labor markets like the U.S. will be those who can think creatively and generate the IDEAS that will propel economic growth. Such skills are best fostered in a traditional liberal arts environment.” - Vivek Ranadive, Forbes THE LIBERATOR | MARCH 2, 2015| ISSUE 14
LEGISLATION RECAP SB. 1401 Policy Memo
PASSED SB. 1402 A Bill to Extend Stipends to the Full Executive Board
and to keep guns out of our classrooms. During the past legislative session, hundreds of students went to hearings and committee meetings and marched to the capitol as part of the Invest in Texas Legislative Day. During the Legislative Day, Invest in Texas held a press conference in which students leaders, as well as Representatives Dan Branch and Joaquin Castro and Senator Judy Zaffirini, spoke about the importance of funding higher education and addressing the needs and concerns of students. If you are interested in learning more about the Invest in Texas campaign and how you can get involved, contact Taylor Guerrero or John Brown for more information.
MARK YOUR CALENDAR
SPRING BREAK SUN MON TUE WED THU
SR. 1403 A Bill to Reorganize the Senate of College Councils’ Agency System
SB. 1404 A Bill to Amend Senate Voting Procedure
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MARCH 16-21 SPRING BREAK
LAST DAY AN UNDERGRADUATE MAY (W/ DEAN’S APPROVAL) DROP A CLASS
APRIL 20-MAY 1
REGISTRATION FOR SUMMER AND FALL SEMESTER
Invest in Texas is a student-led non-partisan campaign dedicated to advocating for UT and other higher education students across the state of Texas to the Texas state legislature. Invest in Texas is made up of Student Government, the Senate of College Councils, the Graduate Student Assembly, and 25 sponsoring student organizations from across campus, fighting to make UT affordable, competitive, and safe by bringing a student voice to the legislature. In the past, the Invest in Texas platfor has included pushing lawmakers to adequately fund UT, maintain current levels of financial aid, allow universities to provide health insurance benefits to all graduate fellows,
INVEST IN TEXAS
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THE OUTLET CAMPUS LIFE, POP CULTURE, MINUTIAE. MUNDANE OR INSPIRING, THE LIBERATOR SHARES ITS THOUGHTS ON... WELL... EVERYTHING.
LIBERATOR UPDATE J
Meet our new Liberator Staffers: Cyrus Huncharek
Cyrus Huncharek is a junior studying in the Department of Government. He is 21 and grew up primarily in Dallas, TX. His interests are in the federal government, specifically foreign policy. He has been a research assistant for projects studying donor aid coordination in Africa, the U.S. code, and military staff rides. Currently, Cyrus is conducting his own research project, which examines information processing in Congressional Hearings. In his free time he enjoys riding his bicycle, playing tennis, travel, and independent films.
Baby don’t hurt me -Megan Palombo When you tell someone that your favorite part of a song is coming up and they stop talking to hear it -Kellie Stone “She asked, ‘you are in love what does love look like’ to which I replied ‘like everything I’ve ever lost come back to me.’ -Nayyirah Waheed” -Julian Munoz Villarreal Acceptance -Madeleine Kenney
Annyston is a 20-year-old English Honors major. Aquarius. Passionate about independent comics, feminist discourse, and the color pink. Thinks strawberry is the superior cake flavor and that Hemingway is overrated, though he did say some poetic things about hills and white elephants. Spirit animal is a red deer.
Ashten is 18, majoring in Journalism and History. Her interests include (but are not limited to) second-hand bookstores, coffee shops, good restaurant dives, classic literature, and Sunday morning jogs. Her favorite food is any breakfast food, favorite movie is Casablanca and favorite book is One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. Last but not least, her favorite Kardashian is Kourtney (there’s not nearly enough love for Kourtney out there).
WHAT IS LOVE?
Will is a 20 year old in his second year of college. He transfered from the University of Texas at San Antonio, and now is here studying English and Economics. His interests include reading, writing, music, travel and politics. Will’s favorite free-time hobby is watching movies, favorites including the Last Picture Show, Citizen Kane, and anything by Paul Thomas Anderson. Will is looking forward to writing for The Liberator so he can help spread ideas and inform students about what’s happening on campus, so they too can have a fulfilling college experience.
When mom sends all the Girl Scout cookies to me and doesn’t keep any for herself -Amanda Garcia Splitting the last bite of cake over and over so the other person can take the last piece, but they want the same for you -Annyston Pennington Pretending to give a damn about my latest pop culture obsession when you really don’t care -Andrea Onuigbo Having a constant store of things you want to share with each other specifically (cause you guys get it) -Kelly de Moya Just a special kind of pain -Will Moessinger Understanding that I just can’t open every jar. I’m sorry. -Omar Gamboa Not asking me to repeat myself when I talk too fast (which is a lot of the time) because you know me well enough to fill in the blanks -Maggie Morris THE LIBERATOR | MARCH 2, 2015| ISSUE 14
HELPING YOU GO FROM MAJOR TO CAREER AND ANYWHERE IN BETWEEN
COLLEGE TO CAREER COURSES: Register for a course to help you connect what youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re learning now with potential jobs, and to explore career options. http://bit.ly/lacscourses
CAREER EXPO: Mark your calendar for the all career air on ctober . tart or in on your resu e and researchin a ailable opportunities and attendin e ployers. http://bit.ly/lacsexpo
BEYOND THE TOWER BOOT CAMP: or the u ust th boot ca p ro p, a hour job search crash course. http://bitly.co /lacsbc
@LACS: Are you using social media in your job or internship search ou should be. earn ho to do it, and ho e can help. http://bit.ly/lacss
o er etters Internships Interviewing Pre-Law
rad chool Career Courses
edia Career Research Career Fairs
Liberal Arts Career Services | FAC 18 | 512.471.7900 | email@example.com | www.utexas.edu/cola/orgs/lacs/ LIBERATOR | MARCH 4, 2013 | ISSUE 7 2020 THETHETHE LIBERATOR | APRIL 29, 2, 2013| ISSUE 8 14 LIBERATOR | MARCH 2015| ISSUE