Feminism: a radical concept at Scripps?

By Kehaulani Jai ‘16Staff Writer

On Friday Nov. 30th, the Motley hosted a teach-in focused around feminism and feminist ideals. This discussion was introduced by President Lori Bettison-Varga and led by a panel of students, including Olivia Buntaine (‘15), Emily Areta (‘14), and professors Chris Guzaitis, Seo Young Park, Andrew Jacobs, and moderator Kimberley Drake. Hoping to bring more feminist dialogue to the Scripps community, discussion topics ranged from incorporating feminist pedagogy into classroom instruction to the shape of third-wave feminism.

Panelists were first asked to share their personal definitions of feminism. Responses included, but were not limited to, the following: Andrews said, “When I think of feminism, I also think in terms of the ideological . . . Feminism is about de-mystification of these natural patterns of relationships.”

Buntaine said, “My personal definition would be an everyday activism and way of living. Making an everyday practice of being anti-racist, anti-sexist, anti-transphobic, and anti-homophobic.”

President Bettison-Varga, who introduced the teach-in, said, “I define feminism as a movement for equality of opportunity because I think it’s a somewhat naïve endeavor to have a single definition.”

The teach-in then moved to a discussion of preconceived ideas of feminism upon entering Scripps and the realities of feminism on campus. In particular, much attention was given to question of whether Scripps is a place where feminism can thrive, or if being a feminist student or faculty member is actually counter-cultural.

Many panel members felt that not enough active engagement is happening. Park admits that she wants to see “more stirred up, more powerful, more controversial conversations” about feminism on campus.

Guzaitis is personally disappointed in the fact that there is not a feminist group on campus.

The discussion then moved toward a constructive critique of feminism and the panelists’ hopes and expectations for third-wave feminism. Areta made it known that she feels feminism needs to change, needs to move away from its white, privileged image. Areta said, “Feminism needs to be radically restructured to be all-inclusive.”

Buntaine agreed: “Feminism has a history of being a white word.”

Panelists encouraged the audience and all Scripps students to address these issues by moving forward and being conscious of categories that exclude people.

After the discussion, the professors and students took questions from audience members. Questions ranged from whether it was accurate to call the event a “teach-in” to whether feminism really is counter-cultural at Scripps.

The event comes as a part of a broader effort to include feminism more directly in the Motley’s mission statement and operations.