Women's History Month 2012
NMSU Women's Studies Blogs for International Women's Day
Gender Across Borders and CARE is hosting the Third Annual Blog for International Women's Day, a day where bloggers, writers, and humanitarian organizations are asked to write about the International Women's Day theme on March 8. This year's theme is "Connecting Girls, Inspiring Futures" and bloggers are addressing one or both of the following points:
- How can we, as a culture and as members of the global community, involve, educate, and inspire girls in a positive way?
- Describe a particular organization, person, group or moment in history that helped to inspire a positive future and impact the minds and aspirations for girls.
Here is what NMSU community members have to say:
From Dr. Christa Slaton, Dean, College of Arts and Sciences New Mexico State University
There are so many women who have inspired me, but I am perpetually moved by women who confronted much more than I and who faced so many more constraints, but they would not bend and would not accept the constraints. One such woman was Mary Wollstonecraft who wrote A Vindication of the Rights of Woman in1792. She led an unconventional lifestyle and argued that women were held back because they were restricted from educational opportunities. She died at age 38 after giving birth to a daughter. This daughter was Mary Shelley, the author of Frankenstein. Mary Shelley began writing Frankenstein at age 18. They both symbolize the brilliance of women and the defiance they demonstrated in an environment and time that suppressed women. I am immensely grateful to all those women, who paid a heavy personal price so that my life is easier and my opportunities are so much greater. There is more work to be done, but we have so many inspirational examples from history that motivate me to assure we always vindicate the rights of women.
From Dr. Lisa Bond Maupin, Associate Dean, College of Arts and Sciences, NMSU
We often learn a great deal about ourselves and what we are capable of through the mirrors that others become for us. They reflect back to us what they see in us. Girls often come to understand themselves in part through what we, as women, reflect back to them about what we see in them. The most important thing we can do for girls is to become mirrors into which they look to discover that who they really are is beautiful. That they are capable, smart, valuable.
The most significant women in my life have provided mirrors for me into which I have looked to see that things I never knew were within me. They helped me to see myself more fully, to redefine myself in significant ways. These mirrors gave me the support that I needed to find, as E.E. Cummings put it, the courage to grow up and turn out to be who I really am. To all of those women/mirrors and girls out there, shine on.
From Prof. Mary Benanti, NMSU Assistant Professor of Women's Studies
If you want to help girls and women globally, there is one way: Find a way to be involved. There is an organization in the El Paso-Las Cruces region of the southwestern part of the United States that works with at-risk women and girls along the US-Mexico border. In the past few years, Frontera Women's Foundation has provided scholarships to at risk girls on both sides of the international border. This group provides outreach and information on education to girls who may not get that assistance from anyone else. It has funded micro-entrepreneurial efforts at the grassroots level to help communities help themselves. It is creating an endowment that will enable all girls who wish to study in the arts to get funding for their studies. All of these efforts are by a dozen or so women who decided to make a difference in the lives of women and girls and their families along the international border. They can be found at www.fronterawomensfoundation.org/
From Dr. Laura Anh Williams, NMSU Assistant Professor of Women's Studies
Today I find myself tempted to name the women who have been my teachers and mentors in my own professional and academic development. Or specific students who have impacted my own learning and growth. Or the authors that form the foundation of my scholarship; those who critique institutions that dehumanize and imperil women, and especially women of color, as well as give voice to those women's experiences. Or to write about the American poet Mary Oliver whose statement, "To pay attention, this is our endless and proper work," helps sustain me. For International Women's Day, I am moved most to recognize organizations like Women for Women International that I have contributed to out of a desire to move beyond feeling small, isolated, powerless to effect change. We are not isolated, social networking media allows us to connect, to educate, and to communicate with one another. To pay attention-- from local issues to Women's Rights around the World -- this is our endless and proper work.
From Dr. M. Catherine Jonet, NMSU Assistant Professor of Women's Studies
Today is International Women's Day and I read the most troubling fact on a fellow "BforI D." blog. It stated that more than 27 million people are in slavery throughout the world. This is the highest number of people in slavery in the history of humankind. It is reported that three quarters of them are women and half are children. This number does not even include those forced into "free labor" or modern forms of indentured servitude. While I have had a sense of the global slave trade and its targeting of women and children through sexual slavery, I feel sickened by this number. In fact, I stagger under its weight. How can we attempt to analyze these details with an intellectual lens? What good would it bring? But, the scholar in me fully believes to make changes in the lives of girls, women, boys, men, and those who identify through all kinds of terms internationally, we must confront every bit of information on this topic head-on. What conditions have lead to this? What circumstances allow the global slave trade to continue? What can immediately be done to confront the problem, and what role can Women's Studies as a field of research and a discipline play in working to bring a close to this practice? How can the average person get involved? The scholar can often be the educator and the activist. This is a very important topic that practically goes without discussion. Most people probably have little to know knowledge of the global slave trade. International Women's Day cannot be another day lived in ignorance. Use today to talk about it. Start conversations. Send people to the web. Facebook. Tweet. Blog. Educate yourself and others. Get your local politicians invested. Do whatever needs to be done to make this a central topic of conversation. We all need to make a first step somewhere.
From Dr. Manal Hamzeh, NMSU Assistant Professor of Women's Studies
Today, as many of us marked International Women's Day, I was channeling Cairo. I was wishing to be amongst the thousands of Egyptian women marching through the streets of Cairo demanding the right to co-draft the country's new constitution and imagine the New Egypt. Growing up in the Arab world, I was raised on what the Egyptian feminists had done in the past century. In the past 13 months, I got deeply inspired by what the Egyptian women have been doing to make and sustain the Egyptian revolution against ternary. Egyptian women are my inspiration and hope for interrupting the violent alliance of colonialism, militarism and patriarchy.
From Dr. Abby Train, NMSU Assistant Professor of Mathematical Sciences
"How can we, as a culture and as members of the global community, involve, educate, and inspire girls in a positive way?
I am personally working to address a related issue: How can we inspire girls to study mathematics and science? Data shows that most girls lose interest in math and physical sciences in middle school. As a response to this need, I am finishing up a book for middle school girls that is semi-autobiographical, but weaves in interesting, real stories about important women mathematicians and their contributions to the sciences throughout history and up to the present day.
From Aheli Harvey, NMSU Student
As members of the global community we must accept the realities of how we interact. We interact by loving, talking, caring, and even in the most brutal ways we interact by hating. This must accept that we are as much part of a problem as we are the solution. I've found the best way to involve ourselves in positive ways is to accept that we have the power to stop hate by unapologetically loving what we love. My mother used to ask my sister and I every Halloween as we prepared our costumes to gather treats and run around like goblins: "If you could be anyone in the world, would you still be yourself?"
The answer is always yes. Yes, yes, yes! If girls and women can love themselves, the world can see positive changes. The greatest education seeks to reinforce this human experience and it is the education I have received from my parents, my sister, women and men that I cherish and has inspired me to never give up and never forget that I am never alone in my fears or my passions. Unapologetically love everything that you can. When I was sixteen, I saw a photograph of some anonymous French scrawling circa 1963. It read "I believe in my desires as reality because I believe in the reality of my desires."
From Erin Easley, NMSU Graduate
Ladies, today we must make a conscious effort to continually educate ourselves, to auto-critique our social surroundings in a fervent effort to push the limits of what we accept as "truth," and to resist any attempts to have our voices spoken for or pushed to unheard margins.
While today is International Women's Day we must remember that above all today is about inclusion; inclusion and strength amongst women, but more broadly, amongst all genders. We must consider that perhaps a way that we as a culture, as a society, as a global community can inspire girls positively, is to resist the gender binary that places us as either "girls" or "boys" so that our identities, our signifiers, our means of categorizing one another with our language becomes more expansive and open to intersectionalities and a multitude of possibilities. For if we have learned anything from our continued growth in history, it's that being a "girl" means that we can be anything and at all.
From Brian Perna, NMSU Graduate Student
As a global community, we should convey a culture that looks beyond the marginalization of women. Often times, women are depicted in the media as objects instead of people. Even though women can vote and partake in sporting events that they could not a few years ago as compared with men, women in other countries are going through awful tribulations that need our undivided attention and collaboration. By constructing a positive framework on a woman's identity by involving women in every aspect of her identity construction may empower women to know that women should have the same opportunity as men and to not let men get them down and marginalize their exceptional qualities. In essence, both men and women need to deconstruct the frameworks of oppression and build up a framework of equality that inspires women to feel as such that they are not marginalized through objectification but conveyed as a woman of character, intelligence, and extreme ambitions.
Just the other day, I stated in my class, "there needs to be more women sports announcers." Women in sports are not being employed as much as men in being a sports announcer nor are they getting as much air time in sports coverage. Furthermore, some men view women as not as good as men in sports. First off, in my opinion, there are few organizations that employ women as announcers. ESPN does have a few sports reporters that are women but not enough. Moreover, women were not allowed until 1972 to partake in the education amendment of gender equity. This fostered a sense of opportunity for women to play sports. Another example resonates with Danica Patrick. She has received favorable attention from fellow race drivers that believe she will be a good race driver, not because she is a woman but because she conveys the same talent that the men in the sport convey; whereas the media because of her "Go-daddy" commercials depict her as a sex object.
From Renee Beltran, NMSU Graduate Student
I've always been passionately proud and determined as a girl and woman, determined to embrace all the contradictions and facets of me and happy to just be a girl and woman. But it wasn't until I became a mother that I became even more emphatically unwavering in my desire to let girls and boys know that they can do anything, be anything, love anyone and go anywhere and that they should respect the rights of one another to do those things. I look back through time and I see the ways in which women, as a gender (although that encompasses so much), have often been homogenously grouped and limited. I look forward and am frustrated by those groups that seek to perpetuate this status of woman and I react by being even more determined to seek equity for myself, and my daughters, and my son, and those who identify as marginalized people everywhere. I am striving to raise girls who internalize the belief that the sky is their limit and a son who will respect and honor that potential in all human beings. I am thankful for and bolstered by brave women, throughout the ages, who have defied the cultural norms and displayed their strengths and creativities. I know I owe a debt of honor to those scholars here at NMSU who have supported my growth as a feminist, and those globally who write and act to challenge hegemony.
From Jesse Telles, NMSU Student
As members of the global community we need to have more organizations educating young women about what is women's history month and how as a society change the view of women. We can inspire girls to make them see the world in a different way though these organizations helping the young women of America and the rest of the world. More classes on women's studies and more group sessions like these blogs will help change young women's lives in the future.
From Melissa Aguilera, Graduate from NMSU and El Paso Community College Adjunct Professor of Communication Studies
Does Media Inspire Culture?
On today March 8, 2012, International Women's Day, I contemplate who and why I am inspired. Cultivation theory says that people view the television as the window to the world and what is happening in it. As someone who has studied this theory I would like to see a change made through this process. Some would say we are already viewing the media differently with many more female protagonist roles on television shows and in movies. Is it enough? Are they positive views? I'm not sure yet. It seems this wave of comedies like 30 Rock, Parks and Recreation, and the movie Bridesmaids are making these executives rethink what is a selling factor. My hope is that we do get more positive roles as well as honest ones. Women around the world should not be stereotyped or generalized. Not only for a selling factor but what women are and have been capable of.
From Glory Gene, NMSU Graduate
I dedicate this post to the RiotGrrrl Movement. At times I find disappointment in the realization that the "progressive" subcultures I participate in are not very different from mainstream male dominated culture. In the nineties a radical group of female musicians, poets and artists took the space that they were previously denied. They were not afraid to hold their respective cultures accountable for their lack of inclusion. They did not apologize for their voices. Most of all their spirit worked in exposing myths. The aggressive nature of RiotGrrrl attempted to destroy the myth of permission and expectations of women. It was about revealing that it is not alright to look into a crowd and only see men on the frontlines. These women worked to create balance. It is not my intention to convince girls to become punk rock or extremist. It may be aggressive, but at heart it is a necessary reminder of the power of women. My hope is that movements like this support the idea that a woman who wishes to be radical does not hold back, that the boldness of character and passion are embraced and respected within oneself. I hope that women remember to include all people of genders and identities. I hope they remember to create allies in all around them and to consider the potential of not only inspiring other women but men as well. Above all I hope they remember that if you really need someone to listen, it's okay to make some extra noise.
From Jessica Havstad, NMSU Graduate
"I came to explore / the wreck. / The words are / purposes. / The words are maps. / I came to see the / damage that was / done / and the treasures that prevail . . .the thing itself/ and not the myth . . . / We are, I am, you / are / by cowardice or / courage / the ones who find our / way / back to this scene / carrying a knife, a / camera / a book of myths / in which / our names do not / appear."
These are just a few of the remarkable lines from Adrienne Rich's poem, "Diving into the Wreck." Each time I read this poem I become emotional. I seem to interpret it in different ways every time, but it always brings me back to the safest surface of my thoughts, where things are much more organized and blissful; the only difference is that I am slightly changed for the better and refocused each time I re-emerge. This is because I bring something back with me each time I dive into the past, and these tokens serve as constant reminders of those who came before me, and the challenges that lie ahead.
Before I learned to navigate this wreckage, my women's studies left me with two strong impressions: that women deserve and need to have solidarity with one another, and that we have the power to rewrite his story. Women's stories have been lost beneath the dark and cluttered waters of the past for a very long time. The remnants of our sister's stories have surfaced bit by bit, but are frequently scattered and torn. Some of them are destined to remain buried for quite some time to come; unless, we work together to find them.
Much like a search party is organized in an effort to find a missing person, women must organize themselves and form solidarity to search and rescue the truth. There is more than the pressure of the ocean walls that serve as an obstacle to this effort. Part of the resistance comes from the fact that women are constantly encouraged to hate one another, and to compete with each other as a way to entertain men, and ultimately divert them from their own absence from history. This has to stop, because in the process of all of that nonsense, the stories of our accomplishments, triumphs, and journeys will forever be surrendered to patriarchal distractions and expectations that mask and bury us: piece by piece, artifact by artifact, story by story. We must equalize the waters together, especially as the resistance increases the further down we go: "We are, I am, you . . ."
I wish I could convey this message somehow to the one's who need it most, the ones who seem comfortable amongst the wreckage, simply because they haven't experienced otherwise. Adrienne Rich is one of the countless women who has inspired me, challenged me, and interrogated me relentlessly. Her words provoke such a vivid image of everything I consider, but can't express. She helped me move from the comfortable place among the scattered cargo to the active, pensive, goggle-wearing feminist I am now. She is one of the many reasons I am grateful for the pioneer divers, and one of the many reasons I will never quit searching the wreck and rewriting those countless stories that have surfaced without our names.
From Alexis Gardenhire, NMSU Student
I think one of the most important ways that we, as a culture and as members of the global community can involve, educate, and inspire girls in a positive way is by setting a good example for young girls and instilling confidence in them at a young age. My Dad always wanted me to be confident enough in myself to stand up for what I think and taught me to be self- efficient enough to think that I don't need a man to be successful. It is important to teach young girls and woman to be independent and have goals of their own instead of giving up their dreams for their man's dreams. Relationships should be equal and viewed as a partnership where support goes both ways.
From "Blind Man Simpson," NMSU Community
Do not question the intrinsic value of providing the intellectual and conversational space for the voice(s) of question about the legitimation of challenging existing distribution of power, privilege, and resource. Accept the voice(s) leading to conversation, leading to the creation of legitimation crises. Understand the raison d'être of living a life of being dogmatically anti-dogmatic. If dogs run free, why not we, said the joker to the thief.
From Myra Llerenas, NMSU Student
Someone who has impacted my mind and aspiration as well as the minds and aspirations of others is Stefani Germanotta or better known as Lady Gaga. This is one person that may not first come to mind when thinking about inspiring and impacting girls and others, but for me she has. Looking past the theatrics and outrages costumes, Lady Gaga delivers a message of love, strength and hope. For many Lady Gaga is example of strength and perseverance. At the start of her career no one believed in her and didn't think she would succeed and now she is inspiring and showing us that we can also achieve our dreams. Lady Gaga is an example of someone who uses her power to influence for good. With the formation of the Born This Way Foundation, she is advocating for the youth who do not have a voice. Many young girls as well as young boys are being bullied at school by peers and others because of who they are. Even though this is not completely directed toward only helping girls and International Women's Day, we can see an example of work that is being done for a positive future. Lady Gaga inspires many girls and boys to be whoever they want to be and through her lyrics and music she gives hope that things will get better and be better in the future.
From Edna Viviana Aguirre, NMSU Student
A club or an organization can be initiated nationally in schools, private or public, from middle schools and high schools to college/universities to inspire girls to pursue a life full of morals and values as women. This could help young girls to take appreciation of the beauty of being women and to emphasize that people are all equal of achieving the same goals. Also to provide sexual educations and others ways to abstinence and/or ways to practicing safe sex. I think that being promoted in a national level across the United States is a way of reuniting races and ages into a particular humanitarian and ethical organization were women could relate to one another, share opinions and experiences, and assist women with certain issues.
From Nana Lawson, NMSU Student
One way to build a culture of character would be to extend leadership character, unite leaders in a collaborative culture, and equip leaders to effectively enrich their communities together. Or Volunteer at a local community garden, tree planting, or plant a garden together. Visit a science or natural history museum. Turn off the TV and the junk that's on the Internet, hypersexualizing and demoralizing young women.
From Jovanni Rel, NMSU Student
I believe that education is an important aspect to get girls involved and educate them. Girls should get involved in the community and in organizations. There are many organizations that are offered for females for no cost. Girls need to be taught that no matter who they are, what they like, or even what they wear, they should always be themselves. Girls need to have confidence in themselves and have faith in who they want to be!
From Rachel Sanchez, NMSU Student
As a culture we need to re-inspire women. Not only young girls but women of all ages, remind them of how wonderful being a woman is and how much they have to offer. As a global society we need to educate girls at a young age and give them options and show them that they can achieve anything that they could ever imagine. We need to reinvent how women are still seen throughout the world and show them that it's ok to be a strong independent woman. To inspire girls to go to school and to want an education so they can better themselves. I think that one day a year is not enough for Women's International Day, that we need to give women a way to believe in themselves all the time. I would like to see more mainstream media showing women in a better light, more demonstrations on the street, more women fighting for what they believe in even if society does not think its ok. I want women to see themselves for what they are: strong, independent, beautiful, courageous, and fighters. I just want for all women to be re-inspired and have something to look forward to.
Related Videos and Links:
UN Women Executive Director Michelle Bachelet on International Women's Day 2012
Google Doodle for this year's International Women's Day
Lois Alter Mark: "Let's Make Today the Last International Women's Day"
"Today is International Women's Day, an event the world has been celebrating for more than 100 years. Personally, I hope it's the last one.
Do we celebrate International Men's Day? No, we don't. Because, when it comes down to it, every day is International Men's Day. In pretty much every country across the globe, men still rule. Sure, there are some female leaders. But most of the powerhouses -- the ones making the laws -- are still men."
Eve Ensler discussing girlhood at a Ted talk
President Obama Speaks in Honor of International Women's Day in 2010
Women's Studies Program
New Mexico State University
Las Cruces, NM 88003-8001
Phone Number: (575) 646-3448