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The Way They Are

LizJ's picture


My mother is a graduate of Bryn Mawr College. She recently found the pin pictured above and gave it to. The pin says “Bryn Mawr College A School of One’s Own” a clear play off of Virginia Woolf’s feminist essay “A Room of One’s Own.” From my mother to Bryn Mawr College to Virginia Woolf, there is so much history represented in this pin. Which got me thinking…


One of the days of this course that stood out the most to me was when Anne and Kristen traced their feminism throughout their lives. The presentations on their backgrounds and influences helped answer a question I had been asking myself since the first day of class: why do they care? By examining their personal history of feminism, Anne and Kristen gave us answers as to why they chose to teach, learn, and explore the topics of feminism, gender, and sexuality.

I would like to do as well.

Admittedly, my own history has been relatively short, as I am only 20 years old. Though considering I ended up taking “Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Gender and Sexuality,” I think it would be fun and introspective for me to trace my own background through the influences that have brought me here.

I want to go about tracing my history in a slightly different was than Anne and Kristen. Being exposed to works such as “The Sandman,” “Jimmy Corrigan,” and “What It Is,” I realized I wanted to do something visual. At first I wanted to create my own mini-graphic novel, but as this was not quite realistic to do in less than two weeks, I decided I wanted to create a storyboard. I imagine the storyboard to follow some sort of “road” that will end at the Bryn Mawr College Gender and Sexuality department.

My central question… or questions:

How have my life experiences thus far shaped my perceptions on gender and sexuality? How have books, relationships, movies, music, and more help create these perceptions? Whose/what work has been useful in helping me address these questions? (Work being extremely open ended.)

Hopefully my exploration of my own history will help me figure out these questions and maybe even make other people want to examine their own.

Proposed bibliography:


Barry, Lynda. What It Is. Montreal, Quebec: Drawn & Quarterly, 2008.


I was instantly struck by the imagery and straightforward inquisitiveness of Lynda Barry’s What It Is. In my storyboard I want to incorporate the multi-layered complexity Lynda Barry uses with her visual art. I plan to use magazine and newspaper clippings, personal photographs, stickers, pen, pencil, markers, you name it!


Atwood, Margaret. The Handmaid’s Tale. Toronto: McClelland-Bantam, Inc., 1985.


The Handmaid’s Tale is a feminist dystopian novel that has stuck with me ever since I read it my senior year of high school. I even bought my mother the book for mother’s day because there was something so eerie about a desexualized society that only treated women as vessels for reproduction, that I wanted my mother to react as intensely as I did. The world represented in The Handmaid’s Tale is so much the complete opposite of feminism that it only made me want to explore a deeper understanding of feminism, gender, and sexuality more.


Bringing Up Baby Vintage Movie Poster Print. Digital image. Web. 4 Dec. 2005. <>.


This poster is from one of my favorite movies and incorporates one of my favorite actresses, Katherine Hepburn. My childhood was filled with nights in front of the television watching black and white movies with my mother. Bringing Up Baby was particularly important to my realization of the perception of women in the 1930s, 40s, and 50s. This movie was one of the only ones that had man allow a woman to get him to do things he never thought he’d do. I loved it.


Dalke, Anne. "Notes Towards Day 8: Thinking Back Through Our Mothers |." Serendip's Exchange. 17 Sept. 2009. Web. 04 Dec. 2009. </exchange/courses/gas/f09/archive/8>.


I take no claim for coming up with the idea of exploring my own historical experiences with feminism, gender, and sexuality. That idea would be Anne and Kristen’s.


Steinem, Gloria. "If Men Could Menstruate." N. Rpt. in Outrageous Acts and Everyday Rebellions. New York, 1986. Print.


Gloris Steinem. Cliché? Maybe… but I cannot deny her influence, especially in this class. She inspired my third web paper about seeing menstruation as a disability and has helped me, through satire and wit, thoroughly understand what it means to not a part of the “superior” gender.


kjmason's picture

So excited to see this :)

 I was actually just talking to Kristin about this sort of idea in response to the presentations on Tuesday. I really thought it added a lot of dimension to people in the class knowing a bit more about where they were coming from in taking this course. That's one thing I actually wish we could have done a little more of in the course, so the fact that you're approaching that aspect of learning in your final project sounds really great. I'm excited to read/see it. After all, this "study" that we do is made up of people and their stories.

I agree with skindeep in that it's also really nice to see someone embracing the alternative forms of expression freedom that we have been given in this course. In my short time at Bryn Mawr, I've seen how rare and completely wonderful it is to be given that freedom. So run with it! I'd encourage you to pull other things into it. With what I'm doing right now (a similarly artsy thing) I've had a lot of different mediums, pastels, fabric, foil and glass, so if you think you'd have fun with that as well I'd totally encourage you to play even more with what you use because its soooo fun!

I also really like the image of this pin for this project. I think it'll be important to also evaluate how you view the world with your current thoughts on gender and sexuality, but also I'd be interested in seeing how not only your ideas toward gender and sexuality, but further, your perception of the world with your thoughts over time, have changed till now.

skindeep's picture

love it!

First off, I love the idea of the story board. It's interesting and different. And it appears as if it could portray what your project is trying to convey very very well.

I also like the originality of your project. Despite the fact that Anne and Kristin came up with the original idea, your take on it will be your own and the fact that you seem to branch out and take this route is something I respect. It seems like the point of this class was to create a space in which we can take risks, explore ourselves and take a better look at the world around us - your project seems to serve as a base for you to do this, and I love that.

Maybe you could add this question to your project - 'and how do my perceptions of gender and sexuality influence the way I view myself and the world?' -- just to complete the story, bring you from the past to the present.

Overall, I think you have a great idea!