Friday, January 16, 2009

Feminist President.

Welcome back to campus!

As we begin this term, we also prepare to usher in the 44th president of the United States: Barack Obama.

Presently there is a rather lively debate going on in the blogosphere about whether or not President-elect Obama should have appeared on the cover of Ms. Magazine, in superman-like pose, ripping off his button-down shirt to reveal the Feminist Majority T-shirt underneath that reads "This is what a Feminist looks like." (

Ms. Magazine's defense of the use of the image is that in an interview, President-elect Obama identified himself as a feminist. The debate rages on about a lot of things, but I am struck by this statement. President-elect Obama is - as far as I know - the only US head-of-state to declare himself a feminist.

What will this mean for women in the US, and for the women of Dartmouth? For me, the debate about whether or not one can embrace the moniker feminist is usually a distraction to the work-at-hand. I'm much more interested in what people do than what they say they do. The proof is in the pudding.

At Dartmouth, students talk a lot about gender inequities as manifested in "gendered spaces". Some may call themselves feminist - most do not - but that doesn't keep the conversations from happening frequently. Talking about how space on campus is gendered is a tangible way to see manifest the broader gender inequities women perceive at Dartmouth and in society-at-large.

The conversation about gendered spaces and possible changes to achieve equity, is very complex and involves other factors which may have or may not have a gendered component. There are no easy answers. Will a feminist president have an impact on this concern for Dartmouth students at all? It remains to be seen.

One thing for sure is that there is a palpable feeling of possibility in the beginning of this new administration. Possibility for enduring change that creates a more inclusive America. Can we create a more inclusive Dartmouth? Yes we can!

If you're interested in talking about this or other things, write a comment and/or drop by the Center.
We're in the Choates between Little and Brown.

Peace & Sisterhood
Xenia Markowitt
Center for Women & Gender


Dr Juli Parker said...

This idea of gendered spaces and the ways in which students manifest them is very interesting. In fact, I was recently at a meeting about fundraising where someone suggested that the hospital women's auxiliary, made up of "doctor's wives," would be a great place to ask for money. All the time I am thinking, most of my doctors are women . . .so who are their wives? I'm continually surprised by sexism as much as it is part of my job to address it,confront it, and see it. I am as hopeful as Xenia that this will become a more inclusive america. What else do we have, but hope?

Susan said...

welcome to the blogosphere chica! great to see your voice here. I have bookmarked you :)