Interested in Women’s Studies but don’t know what professor to take? Looking for an elective for the spring? Either way, I’m here to help. Professor Veronica Luna teaches the introductory course for Women’s Studies, and if you’re looking for an awesome experience in this class, consider taking her. I promise, you won’t regret it.
Name: Veronica Luna
Course: Introduction to Women’s Studies
School(s) Attended: UT for Undergrad and UC Berkeley (Masters of Arts in Education – Social and Cultural Studies) for Grad school
Why did you choose to teach?
That’s a good question – I think initially it was because I had great teachers in school, family, and elders and I had that view that there was knowledge and history we need to reclaim. Through teaching, I could be a part of that process of passing on an ancestral knowledge.
Also, negative school experiences and teachers who devalued me is what led me to teaching.
How did you end up teaching at UTSA?
Through a grad school friend who taught here before. She connected me with the women studies institute here.
How did you end up in this career field?
When I decided I wanted to pursue graduate study, I was looking for something more meaningful to understand the systems of education to challenge it; to make change (in social sciences); and to find analytical, activist, and community tools and like-minded scholars and peers.
What is your favorite part about it?
Definitely the students and being part of their journey, but also witnessing when students are engaged in a healing process and kind of reconfiguring what higher education means to them.
Do you think this generation struggles with the topic of feminism?
I think it’s part of the discourse more than when I was growing up. The meaning of it is changing. It used to have a connotation of like sexuality or anti-male stigma. It was not a word I heard my friend or peer using. I think this generation is maybe part of the public discourse a little bit more – students getting involved in activism. I know it’s always been part of history in my family and my communities, but I think now with social media it’s easier for groups to connect and change the meaning behind feminism and what it’s like to be a feminist. Growing up, it’s not something I saw in teachers or friends. It was not a word or identity young people had. I found it more outside in spaces in the community that my parents would take me into like in Mexico, but it was not in my predominantly white high school at all.
Why do you feel strongly about this?
I think as someone who identifies as a woman of color, it’s a lived experience that I engage in every day with personal politics and scholarly work. I understand oppression as intersexual, and the way I have understood it, patriarchy is a central force of oppression and privilege. With that, I think about how capitalism, white supremacy, and colonization have worked through.
What can we do to bring awareness and equality for all?
Definitely taking women’s studies courses, being open to having dialogues not just on higher education spaces, but in our homes with our families. Dialogues, activism, courses, bringing gender analysis into other courses, and being part of communities that are working on coalition building – not thinking that the work is accomplished or done but really understanding that working towards equality and decolonization is a long process that still has a lot of work to do.
Also, we have to remember that gender is not absent since we can easily forget that.
Any mentors, idols, or favorite activists?
So many. Well, definitely the women in my family, whether I have met them or not. For example, my ancestors that have shaped or influenced my life and definitely my mother.
Also, feminists of color activists, Gloria Anzaldua, and students that I have in classes that are so open and willing to consider how gender, sexuality, and race shape our lives.
Any favorite groups or organizations?
Locally, I am aware and try to support the events that the Martinez Women’s Center does. I also support different women of color artists and the Third Women Press. Additionally, I try to be supportive of women of color businesses, independent artists, writers, and business women in things that I purchase and consume.
Words to live by:
“Self-care is an act of political warfare” – Audre Lord
When we love and take care of ourselves, and not just doing things like taking care of our bodies but spiritual work, it’s an act of political warfare.
Any advice for people who struggle to understand the feminist agenda?
Yes, so many words. When I think of that audience I think generationally of folks who are in positions of male privilege that have a lot to lose. I would think about how they define humanity and justice and so starting from there: what is your definition? How do you understand the human experience? What is humanity and justice? If it sounds like equity or human rights, I would begin a conversation there because it goes back to the idea that core feminists’ beliefs are about human rights and social justice and we all have a stake in that.
Any advice for women who are in relationships with men that are not feminists?
I would say if that person is willing to have conversations and dialogue, then there are moments to do that if the female partner is willing to educate. We begin from finding moments to humanize each other and also understanding each other’s context and our material conditions like their education level, health, and access to social services. All of these factors are gendered. I would think a loving partner would want to understand their partner’s context and what it’s like to walk in their shoes.
How would you describe women’s studies in a sentence or two?
It’s a historical, social, and political analysis of how gender and sexuality interact with race, class, and an analysis of systems of power and privilege. It’s a study of how gender and sexuality shape our lives outside of academia.