#9 I learn enough about gender to know I’m a complete ignoramus.

When I arrived  here yesterday (which seems like years ago now) with a carfull of people:


I was both excited and nervous. I was excited because I was about to spend a weekend in a new place, working at something I cared about, featuring many friends and excellent food. I was nervous because I was about to present a project to a group of respected peers that I had spent a great deal of time on, and which ventured into topics which I am still fairly ignorant about, and about which I was nervous that I would offend somebody.  However, after a short discussion, with someone vastly more knowledgeable than I about this issue, and an introduction that made my inoffensive intentions clear I managed to avoid offending anyone.  My pitch went fairly well, conveying my passion about the topic, and placed me firmly into the “Gender” category. There were many pitches put forth yesterday, but as “teaching that sticks” prophesied, the ones that stuck in my head were simple, and involved a story. One which stood out to me was when Maisie told the story of her brother.


There were many fantastic, enlightening conversations that we had during this retreat. Some of them happened after the presentations, after an excellent and satisfyingly calorie-filled dinner which relieved our hunger in short order. This was the big moment. This was the moment where we decided where we were going next. Where we found people with a common interest. So we sat down, and began to hash things out. It soon became apparent that I was not fitting into a category. I wanted to research  gender inequality in some way, but exactly how I wasn’t sure. I wasn’t inclined toward gender binary, and I did’t want to do anything as specific as the dress code. I was starting to think I would have  to go it alone, until I heard that sweet sound of a topic expanding. I breathed an internal sigh of relief. So the group I ended up in isn’t just the dress code. It is how stereotypes and gender roles affects student life. Otherwise known as “smashing sexism.”

Besides that moment of uncertainty, it has been a fantastic weekend. I have learned an incredible amount about gender, and made great connections with people here. We also have a concrete plan to go forward with! I am very excited to see where this topic will take us, and I am determined to make a different.

Theo Wells-Spackman

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