Her Campus Logo Her Campus Logo

A Senior’s Thoughts on a Women and Gender Studies Keynote Speaker

Photo by: Sydney Wemple

On Friday March 23, 2018, Stephen F. Austin State University hosted the Women’s and Gender Studies Symposium. From 12 PM to 3PM, the Ferguson and Liberal Arts North building hosted different speakers on topics of women and gender studies. From poetry readings to talks on religion and feminism, students had the opportunity to come and learn a few things about the roles of different types of women. I had the privilege to see the keynote speaker Dr. Esther Teixeira give her talk based on her dissertation, “The (In)visibility of Prostitution in Brazil.” The lecture hall was filled with student from all over campus to hear what she had to say.

Dr. Esther Teixeira is currently an assistant professor at Texas Christian University. She received her doctorate from Purdue University, and has studied literature for over 20 years. She then started to focus on the literary depiction of prostitution of women in the late 19th and 20th century. When she started speaking, the first thing she let everyone know was that she has never been a prostitute. The stigma of prostitution has always been shown in a negative light and she went on to interview sex workers in different South American countries. She was invited by the President of Minas Gerais’s Prostitutes Association to join a conference about the rights, participation and power of women. Female sex workers would share their stories and their hardships and Dr. Teixeira had to learn to put aside her bias’s when she learned that not all sex workers want to be rescued. There is a stigma against sex workers, but the women Dr. Teixeira spoke to are advocates for women’s rights and rights for sex workers. A woman that was interviewed by Dr. Teixeira compared sex workers to factory laborers, “Are we not, in one way or another selling our bodies for money?”

That statement made me stop and think for a second. While they are different professions, sex workers and factory workers do use their bodies for profit. The same could be said for any profession really. Time and labor are sacrificed so they can make a living. 

The women that were interviewed are activists fighting for the political system to include sex workers in the fight against prostitution. They believe that prostitution should not be considered illegal and that they should have the same rights as other workers. How can a middle-class politician fight against prostitution if they do not know firsthand what it is like as a prostitute? By sharing their experiences, these women are destigmatizing themselves and creating a safer environment to work in. This talk gave me a different outlook on the world around me and how a lot of topics that are difficult to discuss are not talked about from a firsthand perspective. It opened my eyes into a different world that I knew nothing about.

I am a senior, English major at Stephen F. Austin. I love to read, drink coffee and hang out with my friends from back home. My goal is to get a career in publishing and editing and I will be going to the University of Denver this summer for graduate school! Thank you for taking the time to read my articles and I hope you enjoy Her Campus!
Similar Reads👯‍♀️