Students speak out on gender

DENVER- It has long been a taboo to talk about issues and biases surrounding gender and here at DU is no exception. For many years there has been a negative almost dismissive stereotyping of gender rights especially surrounding feminism which is often greeted by older generations with an eye roll.

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Students debate over a project.

The topic is ever more present especially in our current political climate with a president famous for “grabbing pussy.” It is for this reason that the office of Gender and Women’s studies is trying to open up dialogue amongst students to better understand issues surrounding gender not just at DU but around the world.

As a way to combat the issues with lack of dialogue involving gender on campus the Gender and Women’s studies department has put on a “Gender Fair.” Run by students involved in the department, the fair is a series of projects meant to not only have people think more about gender and privilege but also create an open healthy dialogue. Jamie Guzman a Professor in the department said the goals of his class and the gender fair was to, “not only selecting and researching a topic in the course but to also find a way to engage and educate the DU community.” Christina Foust, Chair of Communication Studies, agrees strongly with the principles of the fair, “you can establish norms in our community by simply talking about what people are already talking about in private.”

One of the challenges the department is currently faces is the lack of male students involved in the courses. Danny Brown, a senior and minor in Gender and Women’s Studies, admits enrollment is low amongst his fellow male peers, “In a class of 20 I usually only typically see two or three other males.” Brown is adamant however for more male participation, “If anything it is more important for males to get involved… my time in these classes has shaped me into a different man with far more respect for the many privileges I’m presented with as a male. Brown holds his own version of open dialogue with an all-male gender studies discussion group highlighting and discussing the many things he’s learned in class in order not only to educate but also to get new perspective.

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A student explains her final project.

The projects at the fair ranged from an anonymous apology board for anytime you’d used a gender explicative to shame someone of your same gender or another to fraternity and sorority life stereotypes. Many of the projects aimed to show stereotypes surrounding gender in various settings from the “douchey frat guy” image to the “slutty sorority girl” to highlight the often damming effects it can have on people. It was nice to see students not only simply looking and moving past the various projects but also really engaging around each topic. Each project had a small group of students surrounding it talking about the various elements of gender the projects were evoking and even elements they weren’t. Students and faculty were extremely happy with the results and hope to increase attendance in the fair and their classes in coming years.

Written by Thomas Porricolo

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