noun | wom・an・hood | \ˈwu̇-mən- ˌhu̇d, especially Southern ˈwō- or ˈwə-\
a : the state of being a woman
b : the distinguishing character or qualities of a woman or of womankind
Ah, yes. The debate of womanhood; a debate that has taken the hot seat within our world view as of late. What defines being “a woman?” And, more locally, what does being a woman mean on Denison University’s campus? I have been fascinated by the *suddenly* mysterious question of what a woman “should” be, what they “should” embrace, and so forth, all brought to light by the current social and political climate of our world. So, I couldn’t help but ask a group of Denison women their perspective on the matter. As a result, presented here is the first of many spotlight pieces of Denison’s women and their thoughts concerning the topic of womanhood.
Though these women do not represent every woman’s experience as a whole on our campus, I found the answers from just some of Denison’s best and brightest women both insightful and important. I found that by just speaking to fellow women around me about their individual experiences can reveal so much about how different the human experience is from person to person. And, to be quite honest, the answers I got from my female peers made me even more honored and amazed to share The Hill with them throughout our college experience. Hopefully this series gives you a taste of how amazing these ladies are.
Being a Woman on Denison’s Campus is…
Kara Zhang (’20)
“Both symbolic and challenging” -Zang
Kara describes her experiences as a woman at Denison and her experiences as a heterosexual, cisgendered, able-bodied, first-generation-Canadian woman-of-colour as completely one and the same. However, she still feels that being a woman in an academic setting can present its challenges. According to general campus-wide statistics: “Departmentally, only 1 of 7 Philosophy professors is female, 3 of 8 Political Science professors are female, and 7 of 17 Economics professors are female.”
With Kara studying in all of these departments as a PPE (Philosophy, Politics, and Economics) major, she is very aware of the contrasting number of men to women in her studies. Though it seems emotionally, physically, and mentally difficult to be a part of such an environment, Kara asserts that “being a part of those spheres that women were traditionally and historically barred from can be incredibly empowering.”
Kara’s academic ambitions stretch far and wide, as she strives to read as many books as she can, yearns to dive into discussions and dialogues with her professors and fellow classmates, and aims to live as a positive, diversifying, and active student on campus. She participates in a variety of Philosophy Department events, is a member of Denison Socialitis, and supports general activism on campus. “I want to listen and learn as much as [I] can— especially about feminist thought, theory, and critique,” Kara explained.
In addition to Kara’s inquisitive endeavors, she also works with the Theatre Department costume shop, is part of The Denison Collective, has modeled in The Eye of The Beholder Annual Fashion show, and will soon be an R.A for the upcoming school year.
There is no doubt that there are so many more stories of women to be told, especially in regard to culture, gender, and other prominent issues within women’s lives. Furthermore, I genuinely believe that the women I interviewed have something valuable to present to all of our campus experiences. I believe that knowing people’s individual perspectives on the subject of womanhood gives us a better campus-wide insight into how powerful and influential the women of Denison University are. Denison women display the incomparable fact that each woman does not fit an ideal mold. They do not exhibit the same “distinguishing character or qualities” of what society has deemed an “ideal woman” should be. In fact, we should consider their testimonies quite the opposite. Denison women are everything a woman could be and more. Their distinct personalities, backgrounds, cultural upbringings, and interests showcase that each Denisonian woman is a star, a voice, and a pioneer of worthwhile change. Let us strive to seek the value of their stories, endlessly.