A Much Needed Introduction to Womanism

By Kailyn Eagy

A person holding a cardboard sign that says “I stand with all women” at a rally/march in front of their face.
Poster from an intersectional feminism rally in Pittsburgh. Source: Creative Commons.

Feminism is defined as the belief in the social, economic, and political equality in the sexes. It is a very well-known term and movement with many people around the world proudly identifying as feminists. A lesser known term and advocate identity is the term womanism/womanist. Feminism and womanism sound very similar, but there are significant differences worth noting. 

The term “womanist” was first coined by author and poet Alice Walker in her 1983 collection of essays, statements, etc. titled In Search of Our Mothers’ Garden: Womanist Prose. In Walker’s full definition of what a “womanist” is, she describes them as a “black feminist or feminist of color,” someone who is “wanting to know more and in greater depth than is considered ‘good’”. Walker’s secondary definition of a womanist is a woman who loves other women in any way, whether that’s sexually, non-sexually, or a lover of the culture and “emotional flexibility” of women. For Walker, a womanist loves the things in life that really matter, such as dance, music, food. But most of all, she loves herself. 

Continue reading “A Much Needed Introduction to Womanism”

Identity Politics

By Vicky Diloné

You are betraying your race.

This statement and others like it have been directed towards me throughout my adult life. I have been called a tool of the patriarchy, an extremist, and yes, someone who hates minorities. Having said that, this post isn’t about me being a victim to hateful comments or discrimination. In fact, it is the opposite.

I am not a victim. I am not oppressed by white supremacy or the patriarchy. My failures or hardships are not the result of nationwide systematic racism. The rise of identity politics seeks to make me a victim, one that can never be saved because of who I am.

Source: David Klein

Identity politics is defined as “politics in which groups of people having a particular racial, religious, ethnic, social, or cultural identity tend to promote their own specific interests or concerns without regard to the interests or concerns of any larger political group.”

At first glance identity politics doesn’t seem bad, nonetheless people tend to forget the last part of the definition. Claiming to be a part of a specific group does not automatically grant anyone special authority outside of that group. We are all given equal inalienable rights; we should all be seen as human and given fair treatment. If one comes from a different or even problematic culture, they are to be treated with respect.

I’m not saying that fair treatment is always given or that discrimination doesn’t exist. Boxing ourselves into an infinite number of identities and checking our “privilege” does nothing but make us hyper aware of our differences. Continue reading “Identity Politics”

Being Mexican-American

A movie still from Selena

By Beatrice Santiago


                                                       “You’re from Mexico, right?”

(A question I get asked all too often.)

Yes and no. I mean my parents are Mexican, yes. But I have never been to Mexico.

So, yes, I am from Mexican descent. I speak the language and love my culture, the music (I jam to it every time), and oh gosh! our food is the best. The tacos, enchiladas, tamales, and mmmm posole. So good. However, I am also American. I was born in the United States. I have lived here my whole life. I grew up in a small town in Southern Idaho–Homedale. Out in the country, I was surrounded by endless fields of corn and many farm animals. Horses were in the backyard.

I also love hamburgers and pizza and enjoy watching American football. Don’t get me wrong, I love both cultures very much, because they are a part of who I am. My Identity. However, it is not easy in the United States. Somehow, I always find myself explaining to people why I am just as American as they are. And, just as Mexican. There is a scene in the movie Selena that explains just what I am saying. Here is the link to that scene.  Continue reading “Being Mexican-American”

I am a Ball Cap Wearing, Wrench Wielding, Slinky Gown Having, Poem Writing, Chainsaw Owning, Didn’t Even Know I Was a Feminist, Feminist.

BY: CMarie Fuhrman


Get this.  A feminist walks into a bar, face smudged with ash, thick Carhartt bib overalls, long hair tucked in a cap, perfectly manicured nails, and a strapping fellow by her side.  They order two steaks, a beer each, and she has a salad, no dressing.  She fidgets as she tries to adjust her thong underwear.  When the check comes, he pays.  He holds the door as they walk out of the bar, and she climbs to a diesel pickup pulling a trailer full of wood.  He drives.

The funny thing is, she doesn’t know she is a feminist.  Continue reading “I am a Ball Cap Wearing, Wrench Wielding, Slinky Gown Having, Poem Writing, Chainsaw Owning, Didn’t Even Know I Was a Feminist, Feminist.”

A Discussion of Language and Inclusion with Activist Madeline Scyphers

Last week I had the privilege to meet with Madeline Scyphers, an activist for the queer community. I had a lot of questions about her community, and Madeline had a lot of answers. I started out by asking Madeline what her identities are so I could get an idea of where she is coming from. She has many, and her response was, “I identify as trans. I identify somewhere between a transwoman and someone who identifies as nonbinary transfeminine. What that means to me is I do feel like the binary gender system of being a man or a woman does not necessarily fit me as a descriptor all the time. I never identify as someone who is a man  or a boy, and I really hate it when someone does gender me that way.”

That’s just one aspect of her identity. When I asked her about her sexual orientation, she responded, “The best word I use is queer. I do and have always primarily dated women, but I’m attracted to most people, at least some of the time, but not all people all of the time. Bi and pan don’t really encompass that; only if you explain it to someone. Since I have to explain it to someone anyways, because it’s [the terms bi and pan] implying things that I don’t want it to imply, why don’t you just use the term queer, which is purposefully vague? I can use it, and you don’t make assumptions about what it means.” There’s more to Madeline than her sexual orientation and gender identity. Madeline said, “I also identify as an activist, I am a math student, and that’s really important to me, and it plays into a larger identity of feeling like kind of a nerd.” Continue reading “A Discussion of Language and Inclusion with Activist Madeline Scyphers”

What Do People Call You?

Aaron W. California

Courtesy titles, like President, Doctor, Rev. or Mr., carry significant status. Have you ever noticed that students often call male professors by their title and last name, and female professors by their first name? In an individualistic society like the United States, the only way to truly know how people like to be addressed is to ask them. According to the article That’s “‘Doctor Instructor”’ to You, female professors often face challenges when it comes to being addressed by their proper title. In the article, it states that “recent studies show that college students tend to view women and minorities with less respect from the start, and that is often reflected in bestowing names, titles, or lack thereof.” Rebecca Schuman is one professor working to correct being addressed by the wrong title. For Schuman, the challenge is social pressure to “not to come off as uptight” when insisting on being called Dr. by students instead of by her first name. However, not all students are intentionally calling female professors by the wrong title. The article mentioned previously makes an important point that “the conventions for [titles]…are massively, overwhelmingly confusing.”

Did you ever stop to think that some of your instructors are not technically professors? According to Schuman, “at large research universities [in Australia], a lot of “professors” aren’t professors at all—they’re graduate TAs.” Although Schuman does in fact hold a doctorate degree, she states that “I myself feel rankled when someone who knows full well I have an earned doctorate refers to…me as Ms. Schuman.” However, not every female professor who holds a doctorate degree necessarily wants to be called Dr. or Professor. According to the article, at the University of Virginia, “there has been a tradition of professors with doctorates going by ‘Mr.’ and ‘Ms.'”Some female professors who hold a doctorate degree are apparently content with, and even prefer being referred to as “Ms.”

Not all students, according to Schuman, are being disrespectful when it comes to addressing female and male faculty. She states in her article two important points: 1) “most students…have no idea what to call us” and 2) “it’s up to us to let them know immediately” how to address us. In order to be addressed as Dr. Schuman, she has come up with a few ways to let students know what she prefers to be called. In her syllabus, she introduces herself by noting, “I’m Dr. Schuman.” Schuman understands that not every female or male instructor wants to be called Dr., like she does. She goes on to state that if males and females prefer to be called “Martika” or “Count von Count” that’s okay too, “whatever you want to be called.” Schuman hopes that society and students will one day catch up with regard to how to address professors. She goes on to state that students who intentionally are “willfully disrespectful will just carry on” and that “most students are truly, [and] understandably clueless as to what to call us.” Schuman empahsizes that for both male and female professors, when it comes to teaching students how to address them properly, they will simply have to “be patient while they [the students] figure it out.”

Karyn Hunts, a former reporter for a major newspaper, explains that formal titles for women can be sexist in nature. Hunts points out that formal titles for women come from a “time when a woman’s marital status cemented her place in society.” Take the title “Mrs.” as an example. The title Mrs. is used to signify that a woman is married and that she belongs to the man whose last name she holds, which some may view as diminishing her individuality. The Associated Press, Hunts explains, felt it appropriate that Lillian Disney, wife of Walt Disney, be referred to as “Mrs. [instead of Ms.] to show…deference to her late husband.” By referring to Lillian Disney as Mrs. Disney, the title Mrs. is sexist, in that it strips away her individuality and replaces it with a possessive title that means she belongs to her husband. The Associated Press, in response to the Lillian Disney title debate, went on to adopt a “courtesy title rule,” requiring that writers and reporters “ask all female sources if they preferred to be called Miss, Ms., or Mrs.” Hunts describes the “courtesy title rule” policy as “an outdated, sexist policy.” The decision to require women to identify their marital status merely helps to preserve the patriarchal tradition. Regardless of how women felt, if married, they must identify themselves as belonging to the man to whom they are married. Hunts explains further that “some women didn’t want to be identified as single for fear” of being accosted by someone because of their single status.

The phrase “ma’am” is, if used appropriately, a title of respect. However, women like Barbra Boxer prefer to be addressed like any other senator. Brigadier Gen. Michael Walsh, in an interview with Boxer, addressed her as “ma’am” out of respect. Boxer politely insisted instead on being addressed as “Senator” instead of ma’am. “I worked so hard to get that title. So I’d appreciate it.” Boxer is simply asking to be treated like any other senator, male or female, by being called Senator. In response to Boxer’s request, Brigadier General Walsh replied, “Yes, Senator.” Brigadier General Walsh graciously corrected his unintended error. The situation Boxer encountered with Brigadier General Walsh can be related to Schuman’s earlier statement that “most students…have no idea what to call us” and “it’s up to us to let them know immediately.”

Not all men and women in the same position, whether it’s in the academic world or not, wish to be addressed the same way. Schuman desires to be addressed as Dr. Schuman, and not by her first name. Yet for others, we have learned that calling them “Mr.” or “Ms.” is just fine with them. It’s good to be mindful of the sexist overtones that using certain courtesy titles can convey, but it’s really a personal decision what men and women want to be called. I think that the best way to show respect when it comes to addressing men and women is to honor their requests, just as Brigadier Gen. Walsh respected Senator Boxer’s request.