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The Scarlet & Black

Global Feminisms, a discussion on gender in our society

This Tuesday, Dec. 3, Associate Professor Kesho Scott’s sociology seminar, “Global Feminisms,” hosted a fishbowl discussion on gender, feminism and patriarchy. Students in the class spent time in advance engaging Grinnellians with these topics through thought-provoking and interactive posters and one-on-one interviews.

One such poster posed the following question: “Are YOU a feminist?” The passionate, confused and funny responses that it elicited were a testimony to the inquisitive and inclusive spirit that characterizes many academic experiences at Grinnell.

Choosing to extend conversations beyond the classroom as a way to “think globally and act locally,” Scott’s seminar chose to engage their peers in a discussion of feminism in order to prompt an exploration of “the P word”—patriarchy. The result was a largely successful fishbowl discussion that the class designed and executed on its own.

“This was a very powerful experience for all of us in the class, and we wanted to share that with people. Kesho didn’t originally have this [as an] assignment,” said Elena Gartner ’14, one of the 14 female members of the class (there is one male student as well). “We realized that patriarchy does exist on this campus … and we want it to be talked about.”

Naomi Ramsay ’14, another student in the seminar, weighed in on their choice of presentation.

“We could have had a discussion about exactly what we learned in the class, but I think that would have been really academic and that was what we were trying to avoid.”

Another class member, Mekdes Kebede ’14, emphasized that the class wanted to alert students to the issue of patriarchy in the first place.

“Whether they think of themselves as feminists or not, they still operate within it,” she said.

The event, though specific to patriarchy, touched on the broader topic of accountability and awareness. Many of those who initiated and participated in the discussion held themselves, their peers and mentors accountable for their actions as continual students both inside and outside of Grinnell College.

 

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