Feminist and Gender Studies ’19 Senior Spotlight

Niyat in Chicago

My name is Niyat Ogbazghi, and I am a Feminist and Gender Studies major. I am so grateful for finding the Feminist and Gender Studies program at CC because I feel like I have found my true passion. Taking FGS classes at CC has been the highlight of my time here. I am indebted to all the FGS professors who have cultivated my knowledge in the field. By the end of this year, I want to start a podcast and then post-graduation, I want to become a journalist. My  latest concern: I’m going to see Beyoncé and Jay-Z in September, and I DON’T know how to act. WHOO!!!!

 

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My name is Eden Lumerman, my home town is called Lod and it’s located right in the center of Israel/Palestine. I am a Feminist and Gender Studies and Political Science double major and I’m a senior at CC! This summer I was doing research for my FGS Capstone Project. As part of my research, I was interning in the Israeli parliament in the office of Labor Party member Merav Michaeli. Throughout my time in the parliament, I paid particular attention to the way in which liberal and secular feminist politics    operate as a political line of offense against the current ruling government, and especially how this political opposition cements a discursive binary of orthodox vs. secular; progressive vs. backward; universal values vs. oppressive values. I am particularly interested in the way in which the secular outcry against the growing religionization in Israel is intersecting with the liberal and secular feminist campaign for gender equality in the military. Through this project I am hoping to dive into a deep analysis of liberal feminist politics, shed light on some of its blind spots, and illuminate the way in which feminist politics give hand in the normalization of state violence and the Israeli occupation of Palestine. I am both very excited and a bit nervous to start processing everything I have gathered this summer, and am also so lucky to have my fellow FGS majors and amazing professors with me in this journey. In my free time I like hanging out in my apartment with my cute roommates and making delicious foods.

 

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My name is Amelia Eskenazi. I am a Feminist and Gender Studies major with a minor in Studio Art and REMS. I am one of the co-chairs of the Llamapalooza  committee and a former cast member of Relations the Play. I spent this summer doing a video/photo project with Dr. Heidi R. Lewis and an art residency in Berlin. My thesis will be exploring queerness as a method of dealing with photography as an artistic practice. My goal is to interrogate the Western queer art canon by putting my work in conversation with existing queer artists as well as feminist theorists, queer theory, and critical visuality studies. My project seeks to illuminate the ways in which “queer art” is only validated when reliant upon portraiture that displays sex, drag, or portraits of queer community as well as question the ways in which I too am feeding into the very imagery and institutions I am questioning as an artist. I am so excited to do this project through the FGS department and look forward to collaborating with my peers as well as receiving the brilliant mentorship from Dr. Nadia Guessous, Dr. Rushaan Kumar, and Dr. Heidi R. Lewis. In my free time, you can find me ranting about astrology, hanging out with my leopard gecko Gert, and making clothes out of trash.

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Christie is a lot. Hailing from Canada, Hong Kong, and Wales, she is a storyteller, activist, tree-climbing, dirty-feet-in-unkempt-grass-er, and a bit of a strategically charming button-pusher. doesn’t like holding things. can’t listen to music when studying – can’t study very well. can only sit still, really still, to sketch. been thinking about anger as issue as placebo as hurt as healing, lately. conflates restlessness with recklessness; reckons her whole life is a fight. drinks copious amounts of yorkshire tea (one sugar and a dash of milk). loves a difficult riddle or treasure hunt. exhales ultimate frisbee. only eats meat that she catches/kills/guts/cooks. strongly believes in chasing stars. has trouble sleeping. enjoys cold ocean swims, broccoli, and singing a particularly ancient welsh song in the shower. her favourite tool is a hammer, she wears a seabird fossil around her neck, makes an intricate mushroom risotto, and frequently indulges in banter, cheeky dialogue, a bit of good conversational fun, and the occasional pleonasm. dares say rules are only guidelines, considers coriander an abomination, and feels heartstrings look like the twilight sky.

 

 

Binary Schminary

Gender BinaryBy Taylor Knight (‘18)

Softly glowing, my laptop throws a timid presence of light over the room. On the login screen, the name “Taylor” blinks back at me below a small picture of me until tears streak down my cheeks. At first, I can’t find the words to capture the ethereal feeling of pure bliss in my chest. For the first time, I am given the chance to remove the lens of cisnormativity, and I am suddenly aware that this gender-neutral name fits me better than my birth name ever did. Since then, I have openly identified as non-binary and plan on changing my legal name later in the spring.

Gender is simply performative. We pretend that our performative identities are natural instead of fabricated, and we imitate internalized “regulatory fictions” (Butler, Gender Trouble 180) just to repeat a story that society has repeated from generation to generation. In this way, Judith Butler argues that gender liberation requires an abandonment of “gender coherence” (119). It is nearly impossible to be objective under the glaring lens of a cultural narrative for gender; every member of every society is harnessed to systematic constraints and conditioned through disciplinary methods to internalize the narrative of their own culture.

Queer theory’s concept of gender fluidity allows for us to approach gender in more complex ways—as a gray area instead of black and white, which would allow for stratified limitations to be broken. Non-binary identities exist within the transgender community for people who don’t fit into the gender binary, including terms like agender, gender-fluid, demiboy, and more.​

Despite the unfamiliarity of the term, non-binary communities have existed as long as gender structures—they simply lacked a platform to improve awareness or the terms necessary to figure out why the gender binary felt so rigid to them. Thankfully, the rise of social media has made it increasingly possible for non-binary people to find one another. Just like any other community, there are certainly complex discussions within it. One such issue is the notion of “passing” as non-binary, similar to a struggle of transgender people who identify as either male or female, whether or not people could assume, based on appearance, that they are transgender. Androgyny is the typical expected ideal in non-binary appearance, but it tends to be geared towards masculine expression. When the default is considered masculine, femininity is Othered and becomes a symbol of excess indulgence—the anticipation of masculinity marginalizes the femme non-binary community and casts further shame on femininity. Moreover, the pressure of femininity should not be thrown upon non-binary people who were designated female at birth and neither should masculinity for those who were designated male at birth. “Passing” should be a moot point in the non-binary community, as it only divides and alienates us.

I can still taste the salt from the tears of joy in January; what I felt then is still present and far from fleeting. Every time I hear my name, my eyes light up. We have a tendency of shoving everything into the cultural categories that our superegos are socialized to accept but then we refuse to admit that gender structures are relative and performative—but once we do, it suddenly becomes apparent that no oppressive system is fundamentally indispensable or essential to our nature. We must demand fiercer critical analysis of the social constructions from ourselves and embrace the rejection of compulsory cisnormativity.