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Self Evaluation: Finding My Place in Feminist Studies

shainarobin's picture

My journey in Critical Feminist Studies has been a long one and much like The Odyssey, it won't end after this class. Alright, cheesy sentence aside, this class is one of the reasons why I look back at my first semester at Bryn Mawr fondly. Before coming to Bryn Mawr, I was really just starting to explore feminism and the idea that things aren’t as good as they may seem. After watching movies/videos like Miss Representation and Feministfrequency I wanted to learn more about what defines feminism and how different people interpret it. As a sidenote, I was hoping to learn more about gender and its complexity. I realized upon coming to Bryn Mawr that I didn’t know as much about it as I wanted to and I thought that this class would be a good place to get an introductory lesson in the subject. We ended up doing this with My Gender Workbook and though I admit that it was confusing for me at first, I took the time to try and understand the complexity of gender and I found myself rewarded for my patience. I had similar experiences with most of the texts we read in class. The meanings didn’t come to me instantaneously and I often had to dig deep to figure out what was going on.

It took me a while to fully realize the depth of our readings and when they were revealed to me in class I would often be left without words. I think this is why I would often stay silent and take in what classmates had to say during our class conversations. I did set a goal for myself to try to say at least one thing or ask one question every class and for the most part, I was able to achieve that.

There are times when I definitely could of said more or tried to lead the conversation in a different direction but I often found the conversation steering itself as our questions and ideas spilled into the room. Intrigued, I like seeing where we went with things and often times I couldn’t answer the questions myself, they were that mind boggling (in a good way). I liked when we divided into smaller groups because that gave us all the opportunity to share our thoughts, questions, and opinions without having to worry about people not having enough time to talk. It also benefited me to hear what other students were going through concerning the readings and that despite the time it took for me to grasp many of the concepts, others were experiencing the same thing.

In order to better understand our texts, I often tried to active read and take notes in my notebook. I found that the more that I did this, the easier the readings became for me. It was also beneficial to take breaks from creating my own Serendip posts and instead focus on reading others and commenting on them. Because we were allowed to do this some pretty cool conversations flowed between all of us. It was also amazing to see how different or similar our paths and journeys have been with feminism.

I liked the format of our classroom with the open circle and free speaking concept and I think that since we were required to learn everyone's names we got to know each other better as a result. I know this helped me to feel more comfortable in a group that was filled with people I was meeting for the first times from all sorts of different places. While activities like writing paragraphs and saying phrases/words on the spot did put me out of my comfort zone, oftentimes it was the push I needed to say what was on my mind without worrying if it made complete and total sense. I know that sometimes just blurting out whatever popped into my helped me to clear space and think deeper about new ideas. It also helped me form links to other peoples ideas.

I will leave this class knowing that I spent my time well and worked hard to understand all of the themes that we covered. Reflecting on how I performed in class, I definitely know how to think even more outside of the box now than I did when I came in. This is a pleasant surprise. I also know that now that I’ve learned the basics of critical feminism and have taken the time to discuss and dissect it with others, I will feel more comfortable in the future talking and speaking up about it. I hope to take another feminist studies course before I leave Bryn Mawr and I am grateful for all that I have learned.

Portfolio Banner(s): I had two photos/banners that stood out to me when I was trying to find my images. One is on intersectionality and the other is a "we can do!" featuring women of color which I thought was relevant to my web event.