Thursday, April 16, 2015

Katharine Goodwin on Licia Ronzulli

Katharine Goodwin is a junior Political Science major and serves as our Programming Intern this year. Next year, Katharine will continue to work with the Lieben Center as she takes on the role of Peer Education Intern. 

When people think of historical women, they name women from many many years ago. But I believe it is important to celebrate today’s women because it will make harder for history to erase them. 
It has long been a (incorrect) notion that women can be mothers or they can be professionals, but they cannot be both. While many historical women have proved this notion wrong, Licia Ronzulli is still fighting to prove to the world that you can do both.
Originally working in health management, Ronzulli was elected as the northwest Italian representation to the European Parliament in September 2009.  A year later she was became an international inspiration when she brought her then six weeks old daughter to work with her as a gesture for the rights of mothering women in the work force.  She said that this was not a political move, but rather a “maternal” one because she was still breastfeeding at the time.  She also highlighted many mothers struggle between daily choices between their child’s needs and their work demans.  Ronzulli did not stop bringing her daughter to work after that day. Her daughter has grown up attending parliament meetings with her mother and can be seen “helping” her mother vote on important policies. 
While she may not be as well known as other powerful women, Ronzulli plays an influential role in the work force.  She has defied sexist notions that women must choose between their job and their babies. She has found harmony between these two characteristics that affect many people.

Ronzulli has not only sparked discussion of what it means to be a working mother and the rights of working moms, but also proven to many people that you can have a demanding job and still attend to your children.  Not to mention she’s given her daughter a kick start to a life of politics.  

Emily Dowdle on Dolores Huerta

        Emily Dowdle is a senior American Studies and American literature double major. She has been     the Student Coordinator of the Lieben Center for since the Fall of 2013    

There’s a poster in my bedroom that hands above one of my bookcases, on it is an illustration of Dolores Huerta and underneath this illustration a banner declares “¡Si Se Puede!” For those of you who didn’t take introductory Spanish in high school nor saw the seminal Disney Channel Original Movie,Gotta Kick it Up!, Si Se Puede”  means “Yes, it is possible” or “Yes, we can.”
            If you’re not familiar with Dolores Huerta, perhaps this doesn’t mean anything to you – so I’ll provide some background. Dolores Huerta was – and continues to be – a labor leader and a civil rights activist. Born in 1930 and raised in the California farm worker community of Stockton, California, Huerta’s mother owned a hotel where she welcomed low-wage workers with affordable (or free rooms)  - her mother’s independence and compassion was one of the primary reasons Huerta was inspired to become and active feminist. After earning her teaching degree, Huerta began teaching at an elementary school where she would see her students in class with empty stomachs and bare feet. Unable to bear seeing her students in such a condition, Dolores Huerta began what would be a lifelong crusade for economic and social justice.  Huerta served in leadership with the Stockton Community Service Organization (CSO) during this founded the Agricultural Workers Association and continually pressed for political agency for the marginalized. It was through the CSO that she would meet César Chávez whom she would launch the National Farm Workers Association with in 1962.
            Through her work in the NFWA and later the UFW she worked empower marginalized farm workers and the Latino and Chicano communities and strive to achieve economic justice for all. Using her legislative, negotiating, and lobbying skills Huerta was hugely influential in the political atmosphere of the organization and was instrumental in the passing of the Agricultural Relations Act of 1975. Even further, Dolores Huerta wasn’t just an inspiration and empowerment symbol to farm workers but to women everywhere.  Lori Flores writes that Huerta:
was arrested four times and through her demonstrations of protest as a farmworker, wife,       and mother, she brought women who might have self-identified as wives, mothers or daughters more than activists into the farmworker movement, politicizing them in a more subtle fashion. Women became the lifeblood of the union as it built its profile (source).
Dolores Huerta recognized that in order for social justice work to be truly justice work, it had to be inclusive – it was not just men marching, protesting, and boycotting but women as well.

            I bring this all up because while it’s rare to even hear about César Chávez in our classes – it’s even rarer to hear about Dolores Huerta. It is César Chávez, who gets a feature film while Dolores Huerta is relegated to a supporting role. Women are principal players in every social justice movement but seem to be the most easily forgotten. And yet, women keep fighting. Every day I wake up and look at this poster above my bookcase and see Dolores Huerta’s face. Every day I am reminded of her work and her struggle as Chicana, a woman, and an activist. I firmly believe that Dolores Huerta should be included in every history book and every classroom, but I also know that when working for social justice it isn’t for the fame or the future biopics to be made, but because it is what’s right.  And most every morning, I’ll say it to myself: Si Se Puede. Yes, it is possible.

Sarah Peraud on Being a Feminist and Being a Catholic

Sarah Peraud is a senior Justice and Peace Studies Major with minors in Women and Gender studies and French. This past year Sarah has served as one of our Peer Education interns. 

I grew up with Mary as an idea woman for me to strive to be more like and so I understand the tension she felt in having Mary portrayed as a subservient woman, as well as being told that subservient ideal by angry white men. I read some of the  work of Elizabeth Johnson (a prominent female Catholic theologian) in my Women in the Bible class and I felt her interpretation of Mary allowed me to reclaim a faith that had made me very disgrunteled and was able to keep me connected to the women and mothers who taught that faith to me, while still being very empowered in my own right.
Throughout my time at Creighton I have really journeyed away from the understanding of my faith I grew up with and moved toward Liberation Theology throughout my time in JPS and THL classes, as a way to understand not only my own faith, but my world as well. Feminism, similarly, has been a way for me to grow and understand both my own experiences and the injustices around me.
One idea I have struggled a lot with in the way religion was taught to me growing up is the idea that our bodies are our spirits are inherently different and that our bodies are inherently sinful. Although, I’ve learned, this is technically a heresy, it is a very common narrative in the way I was raised and the churches I was raised in. I’ve loved learning about both Feminist and Liberation theologies because they have given me words for the feelings of discontent I had with the way I saw the bodies around me being treated, and called me into the world in a real and faithful way.

            One way I think the Jesuit mission has really played into my understanding and practice of feminism is through the Jesuit value of cura personalis—care of the whole person. This value includes bodies, women’s bodies, abused bodies, the bodies and minds of people on this campus. I think just embracing this value in its fullness and its call to protection is a godo first step way to use common Catholic/Jesuit language in our context to talk about and present feminism to a conservative audience.

Ozy Aloziem on Growing with the Lieben Center

Ozy Aloziem is a senior Psychology and Anthropology double major. Previously, Ozy served as a our Women's History Month intern and she nows serves as one of our Peer Education Interns. 

When I first started working for the Lieben Center, I’m not sure I really knew what I was committing myself to. I considered myself fairly familiar with the concept of feminism and felt comfortable proudly labeling myself as a feminist but I think there was something lacking in my understanding of this movement. In today’s culture, the word feminist is tossed around like a beach ball at a pool party in the summer. Everyone knows what it is but no one really knows what to do with it. Some feel empowered grasping it and can feel its weight. Others find it a nuisance and ridicule or dismiss those that are keen on claiming it as their own. That metaphor is admittedly a bit of a stretch but I hope you can see where I’m going with it. The spread of feminism in today’s society, or rather the familiarization of that word in our current vernacular, has many downsides and benefits. With more and more individuals getting on board with this movement, it has grown tremendously and spanned across areas the founders of feminism would never have even dreamed about. But as the momentum gains, the objective becomes more and more diluted as does its meaning. The theoretical background behind feminism centers on feminist theory which many people don’t quite fully understand. The basic tenants of feminist theory recognize that there is a fundamental difference between the experiences of men and women. This paradigm seeks to contextualize the role and experience of women. Stratification arises when there are shifts in power and is deepened when gender differences grant men power and privilege over women. Feminism also focuses on the theory of patriarchy which posits that society is organized in a way that asserts male supremacy. We can see this in all aspects of life as our world is literally inundated by patriarchal ideologies, many of which aren’t even overly apparent to us. That’s why it is so crucial to engage in critical thinking and deconstruct ideas and practices that privilege one gender over the other. In a culture where the word feminist is tossed around so frequently, it’s easy to dismiss anything attached to that word- even if what is attached to that word is important and rooted in a deep theoretical background. It’s imperative to recognize that feminism is a movement deeply grounded in theory that can’t be debunked or discredited. This is what working at the Lieben Center has helped me discern. As I prepare to graduate and move on to wherever else life takes me, I will pack my memories from these last four years and all of the lessons I have learned and continue actively striving to make this world a more just place.

Monday, November 10, 2014

The Power of Sisterhood

Written by Creighton University Senior, Kimberly Thies

I greatly believe in the power of sisterhood. I am not just referring to my remarkable sisters of Theta Phi Alpha-- but to all and 
any groups of women who can band together, creating an unstoppable force. In my 21 years on earth in this female body, I have learned that having good girlfriends makes all the difference. They are the ones who make accomplishing goals more manageable and a lot more fun. I take pride in being a woman during this time of progress in the worldview on gender equality. As a senior quickly nearing graduation, the amount of times I am questioned, ‘why would you waste your next several years going to medical school when you can just marry a rich man and never have to work a day in your life?’ makes me sick. It is for this reason that I strongly believe in the impact that a group of educated women can make in helping to diminish these double standards and celebrate the wonders of being female.

Kimberly is a senior, medical anthropology major on the pre-med track at Creighton. She is originally from St. Louis, MO, where her parents, brother, sister, and two adorable dogs still reside. Graduating in May of 2015, Kim plans to spend a year traveling abroad to volunteer and work in countries in need of women’s health improvement. She will then enter into medical school with the hope of pursuing her passion of medicine in becoming a doctor.