Hello all, I’m Frances! I’m a sophomore English major. I hail from Houston and could not be more thrilled to be starting another year at UT. I’m super psyched for this class as it my first official college English class (I just transferred to the college of Liberal Arts – woohoo!) and it happens to feature a few of my favorite things – good literature, women writers, and feminism.
Feminism is so important to me. It’s saved my life quite frankly. I had no real introduction to feminism and got most of my informal education from personal study and from Tumblr (I see you, Peter Scales, reppin Tumblr! I love it.). Feminism at face value is activism for women’s rights on the grounds of political, social, and economic equality to men. But to me it’s so much more than that. Feminism has given me a voice to speak out about the issues that affect me and my friends and family; it’s encouraged me to push through my discomfort and my fear and carve out a space for myself where I am denied or unwelcome. It’s made me stronger and braver and has helped me to know myself in a way that nothing else really could. And most importantly it’s helped me develop a deeper respect and admiration for the strong women and the good men I am blessed to have in my life.
I’ve always had an avid interest in both science and literature. It’s been easy to find women role models in literature. For science, not so much. My own science education in high school was TERRIFICALLY lame and in order to better understand this fascinating subject, I’ve been doing a considerable amount of self-study (yes, watching Cosmos and falling in love with Neil DeGrasse Tyson totally counts). Of course I’m painfully aware of the low number of women and young girls involved in STEM programs across the country – numbers that are slowly but steadily rising – and of the outstanding bias that seems to loom over women who are passionate about the sciences. Just to give you an example: I combed through the science fiction sections of every bookstore in Houston to find The Female Man. And while I didn’t find the book, I did find that for every female sci-fi writer there were about twenty male sci-fi writers, evidence of the disproportionate representation of women in the scientific genre. I’m excited for this class and hopeful that the books will broaden my mind and further inspire my interest for a genre and an area of study that is almost entirely male dominated.
As for the success of the class, I think what promotes a willingness to engage can be found in the course material and the environment that the class provides for discussion. For example, feminism is in many ways a taboo topic. It may not be topic many people in the room consider approachable or appropriate. But by making topics accessible to everyone in the class through clean and open discussion and by guaranteeing a safe, positive space in which to have this discussion, I believe that both the students and the instructor can be one step closer to solidifying a willingness to learn and engage in this class.