Our Feminist Utopia

by Laurie-Maude Chenard, Resident Creator

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Mayeesha Galiba

 “In my feminist utopia, I would want to be able to feel the range of my feelings and not feel like I have to bite my lip and not feel the embarrassment or the guilt that comes with reacting—reacting in our human way. I want all people to be able to do that without someone saying, ‘you’re acting like a girl.’ Softness and emotions are usually attributed to the female constructed gender role; emotion is seen as a sign of weakness and as an inability to lead. I would love if we could just feel whatever the heck we feel, but still be able to be amazing, excellent, and intelligent people in whatever field we choose to go into.  I want a feminist utopia where we are allowed to feel love at any point and say it at any point without feeling this sort of pressure and guilt and embarrassment and inherent shyness over our expression of it. I feel like a lot of people mold themselves into that societal structure where you have to go at that pace. But I think you should go at the pace you’re comfortable with. Labels are neither good nor a bad thing. They exist in society because we think in labels but if you want one, don’t be ashamed to want one, don’t be ashamed to communicate to your partner that that’s something you want, but if you don’t, don’t be ashamed to not have one. I think that’s really inhibiting to women; it’s like we are trained to talk in a certain way, text a certain way, and present ourselves a certain way.  I would also want a space where people who don’t necessarily work out emotions, like male-identifying folk, actually come to the table prepared. I would want to make understanding their feelings a part of their daily life. I feel like for a lot of female-identifying folk, girls, and women, we work things out with our friends and we talk, but I feel like especially in relationships, oftentimes the men don’t have the space where they’re working everything out, so they come to the table unprepared; it creates an unequal balance of emotional labor. I think we’re stunting the growth of emotional intelligence for people who are male-identifying and that makes it worse for all of us.  Finally, I want more energetic spaces of empathy, things like Bossier, but in everything, not just a niche where Sundays from 9-10pm we sit in that room and that’s when we engage—not just with each other, but that part of ourselves. I want it to be pedagogical; I want it to be holistic; I want that to seep into everything that we do, that radical empathy.”

“In my feminist utopia, I would want to be able to feel the range of my feelings and not feel like I have to bite my lip and not feel the embarrassment or the guilt that comes with reacting—reacting in our human way. I want all people to be able to do that without someone saying, ‘you’re acting like a girl.’ Softness and emotions are usually attributed to the female constructed gender role; emotion is seen as a sign of weakness and as an inability to lead. I would love if we could just feel whatever the heck we feel, but still be able to be amazing, excellent, and intelligent people in whatever field we choose to go into.

I want a feminist utopia where we are allowed to feel love at any point and say it at any point without feeling this sort of pressure and guilt and embarrassment and inherent shyness over our expression of it. I feel like a lot of people mold themselves into that societal structure where you have to go at that pace. But I think you should go at the pace you’re comfortable with. Labels are neither good nor a bad thing. They exist in society because we think in labels but if you want one, don’t be ashamed to want one, don’t be ashamed to communicate to your partner that that’s something you want, but if you don’t, don’t be ashamed to not have one. I think that’s really inhibiting to women; it’s like we are trained to talk in a certain way, text a certain way, and present ourselves a certain way.

I would also want a space where people who don’t necessarily work out emotions, like male-identifying folk, actually come to the table prepared. I would want to make understanding their feelings a part of their daily life. I feel like for a lot of female-identifying folk, girls, and women, we work things out with our friends and we talk, but I feel like especially in relationships, oftentimes the men don’t have the space where they’re working everything out, so they come to the table unprepared; it creates an unequal balance of emotional labor. I think we’re stunting the growth of emotional intelligence for people who are male-identifying and that makes it worse for all of us.

Finally, I want more energetic spaces of empathy, things like Bossier, but in everything, not just a niche where Sundays from 9-10pm we sit in that room and that’s when we engage—not just with each other, but that part of ourselves. I want it to be pedagogical; I want it to be holistic; I want that to seep into everything that we do, that radical empathy.”

To Feel: To Be Human

“In my feminist utopia, I would want to be able to feel the range of my feelings and not feel like I have to bite my lip and not feel the embarrassment or the guilt that comes with reacting—reacting in our human way. I want all people to be able to do that—to feel whatever the heck they feel—and still be able to be amazing, excellent, and intelligent people without someone saying, ‘you’re acting like a girl.’”

Sam Almon

 “In my feminist utopia, people would have a beautiful combination of human traits because empathy and aggression—opposite ends of the spectrum perhaps—are both just human qualities, as are nurturing and violence. There’s often the misconception that feminists want to make men more feminine, but that’s not the goal. The goal is to realize that the notions of masculinity and femininity are both constructs; they don’t really mean anything. We like to say that masculine traits include aggression, motivation, and leadership, and femininity is gentleness, nurturing, and empathy. But, none of these traits inherently have a gender, just like makeup doesn’t have a gender, an article of clothing—cotton—doesn’t have a gender, and the smell of a body wash doesn’t have a gender. All of these things are tied to two different genders because they’re displayed in each gender in different proportions and therefore, they’re conflated as being masculine or feminine, but they’re just human traits that are more common in one gender than the other. Quite frankly, this misconception is the reason why people are afraid of transgender people—of anyone straddling ambiguity that we can’t put in a box—because we like to have rigid constructs.  What feminism ultimately aims to do is to get to a place where gender, sex, race, and class don’t matter because we would be liberated from the oppression that is currently tied to each of those constructs. It would be a place where everyone dresses as they want, wears makeup or doesn’t wear makeup, pursues whatever job they want to pursue, doesn’t pursue a job at all, etc. We would be our genuine, authentic selves in whatever way is most fruitful and fulfilling for each of us. Personally, I would have to look inward to figure out who I am as a human being with all these constructs, demands, and expectations aside. I’m not just a woman; I’m not just a white person; I’m not just heterosexual; I’m not just all these identities all stacked together on top of each other. I’m none of them, but everything all at once. It has to come down to when all those labels and identities are stripped away, who are we  really ?  In this utopic world, I wouldn’t wear makeup, not even a lick of it. For some people it’s a form of expression, but for me, it would be a rare occasion I would wear anything like that—anything that kind of fluffs the appearance. I would also carry myself differently in the world; I would literally walk differently and have a different way of being—of existing physically in my body. We would all have a different way of moving through the world. We’d feel more comfortable and feel safer, especially when there’s no threat of violence, which pervades every aspect of one’s existence. I would also pursue bigger positions and I would pursue more—more of everything because I would feel confident that I could do that and I wouldn’t feel like I’m competing with the men in the room and my voice is being silenced or marginalized. I would have a very different conception of the world and we’d live in a world that would be more just. It would affect everything—our school systems, the prison system, etc.  In this type of world, many I know who have experienced things like mental health issues, eating disorders, sexual assault or abuse, wouldn’t have experienced them. These experiences fundamentally change a human being and alter them for the rest of their life; they alter how they think of themselves, the mental labor they have to do to get out of those traumas, and sometimes even their career paths. I therefore, tangentially, would be different because I wouldn’t bear the burden of having so many friends who have been sexually assaulted or even sexually harassed. That would change me; that would change my mental state and the way in which I think about men and women, and a fog would be lifted from my mind. I would have a clearer, and honestly, more joyful understanding of and interaction with the world—a more lighthearted, truly positive understanding of my surroundings.  My feminist utopia would also necessarily mean that we are freed of racism, xenophobia, ableism, etc. because feminism intersects with every other identity that a human being can have. Being a Women’s and Gender Studies major, I have a broader understanding of what that would look like. It’s both personal and institutional; it’s systemic. It’s much more intertwined with other issues than people realize. Feminism is inextricably tied to  every  other element of life. People think women studies—feminism studies—is this thing out in the corner…it’s just this little thing that women discuss, but feminism is  everywhere  and it’s  everything , and whether people realize it or not, it affects  every  single one of us—man, woman, and anything in between. An overhaul of the system would necessarily mean that every single person comes out better because when marginalized people who are at the bottom rung of the ladder are in their best place…when they’re getting freed from their shackles, so to speak, that’s when everyone else is liberated. You can’t do trickle down, it has to be the other way around—bottom to top. When you think of systems that have been toppled or seriously disrupted, they all happened because of radical grassroots activism. You have to be willing to challenge the people in power and the status quo, in a very radical, aggressive, and confrontational way that disrupts the flow of everyday life, or else it’s not going to happen because there’s always going to be someone who has something to lose and who has something at stake, and they’re never going to want to give that up, so it has to come from the bottom up.  The beauty of feminism is that it challenges us to activate and access our most genuine and authentic selves, and to be critical thinkers—to be critical of everything we don’t even see and think about on a daily basis. We have to challenge systems, people, hierarchies, and methods of power. We have to be able to confront that and to question who has something to gain here, who’s at stake, what’s at stake, who has something to lose, and who are the actors that are at play. If we start to challenge every single thing, we will come to realize that a lot of these things are fallacies, or they’re constructed and don’t have any meaning other than the meaning that we give them. So, if we change the meaning that we give them, that’ll truly change our lives and the way we interact with the world. If we realize that these things are really social constructions, they can therefore be reconstructed.  The beauty of feminism is also that you have to be willing to do that and you have to be OK living in that ambiguous middle ground of, ‘I don’t have what I want right now. I’m not reaching my goals that I need to reach, right now, but I’m happy to just keep fighting,’ because the more that we do, the more we can undo. We have to remember that there’s a larger legacy that’s way behind us, that’s been doing this for much longer than we have. We have to acknowledge and honor that—that we’re only one moment in time of this much larger struggle for liberation. So, you have to position yourself in time and space and realize that it’s bigger than any one of us.”

“In my feminist utopia, people would have a beautiful combination of human traits because empathy and aggression—opposite ends of the spectrum perhaps—are both just human qualities, as are nurturing and violence. There’s often the misconception that feminists want to make men more feminine, but that’s not the goal. The goal is to realize that the notions of masculinity and femininity are both constructs; they don’t really mean anything. We like to say that masculine traits include aggression, motivation, and leadership, and femininity is gentleness, nurturing, and empathy. But, none of these traits inherently have a gender, just like makeup doesn’t have a gender, an article of clothing—cotton—doesn’t have a gender, and the smell of a body wash doesn’t have a gender. All of these things are tied to two different genders because they’re displayed in each gender in different proportions and therefore, they’re conflated as being masculine or feminine, but they’re just human traits that are more common in one gender than the other. Quite frankly, this misconception is the reason why people are afraid of transgender people—of anyone straddling ambiguity that we can’t put in a box—because we like to have rigid constructs.

What feminism ultimately aims to do is to get to a place where gender, sex, race, and class don’t matter because we would be liberated from the oppression that is currently tied to each of those constructs. It would be a place where everyone dresses as they want, wears makeup or doesn’t wear makeup, pursues whatever job they want to pursue, doesn’t pursue a job at all, etc. We would be our genuine, authentic selves in whatever way is most fruitful and fulfilling for each of us. Personally, I would have to look inward to figure out who I am as a human being with all these constructs, demands, and expectations aside. I’m not just a woman; I’m not just a white person; I’m not just heterosexual; I’m not just all these identities all stacked together on top of each other. I’m none of them, but everything all at once. It has to come down to when all those labels and identities are stripped away, who are we really?

In this utopic world, I wouldn’t wear makeup, not even a lick of it. For some people it’s a form of expression, but for me, it would be a rare occasion I would wear anything like that—anything that kind of fluffs the appearance. I would also carry myself differently in the world; I would literally walk differently and have a different way of being—of existing physically in my body. We would all have a different way of moving through the world. We’d feel more comfortable and feel safer, especially when there’s no threat of violence, which pervades every aspect of one’s existence. I would also pursue bigger positions and I would pursue more—more of everything because I would feel confident that I could do that and I wouldn’t feel like I’m competing with the men in the room and my voice is being silenced or marginalized. I would have a very different conception of the world and we’d live in a world that would be more just. It would affect everything—our school systems, the prison system, etc.

In this type of world, many I know who have experienced things like mental health issues, eating disorders, sexual assault or abuse, wouldn’t have experienced them. These experiences fundamentally change a human being and alter them for the rest of their life; they alter how they think of themselves, the mental labor they have to do to get out of those traumas, and sometimes even their career paths. I therefore, tangentially, would be different because I wouldn’t bear the burden of having so many friends who have been sexually assaulted or even sexually harassed. That would change me; that would change my mental state and the way in which I think about men and women, and a fog would be lifted from my mind. I would have a clearer, and honestly, more joyful understanding of and interaction with the world—a more lighthearted, truly positive understanding of my surroundings.

My feminist utopia would also necessarily mean that we are freed of racism, xenophobia, ableism, etc. because feminism intersects with every other identity that a human being can have. Being a Women’s and Gender Studies major, I have a broader understanding of what that would look like. It’s both personal and institutional; it’s systemic. It’s much more intertwined with other issues than people realize. Feminism is inextricably tied to every other element of life. People think women studies—feminism studies—is this thing out in the corner…it’s just this little thing that women discuss, but feminism is everywhere and it’s everything, and whether people realize it or not, it affects every single one of us—man, woman, and anything in between. An overhaul of the system would necessarily mean that every single person comes out better because when marginalized people who are at the bottom rung of the ladder are in their best place…when they’re getting freed from their shackles, so to speak, that’s when everyone else is liberated. You can’t do trickle down, it has to be the other way around—bottom to top. When you think of systems that have been toppled or seriously disrupted, they all happened because of radical grassroots activism. You have to be willing to challenge the people in power and the status quo, in a very radical, aggressive, and confrontational way that disrupts the flow of everyday life, or else it’s not going to happen because there’s always going to be someone who has something to lose and who has something at stake, and they’re never going to want to give that up, so it has to come from the bottom up.

The beauty of feminism is that it challenges us to activate and access our most genuine and authentic selves, and to be critical thinkers—to be critical of everything we don’t even see and think about on a daily basis. We have to challenge systems, people, hierarchies, and methods of power. We have to be able to confront that and to question who has something to gain here, who’s at stake, what’s at stake, who has something to lose, and who are the actors that are at play. If we start to challenge every single thing, we will come to realize that a lot of these things are fallacies, or they’re constructed and don’t have any meaning other than the meaning that we give them. So, if we change the meaning that we give them, that’ll truly change our lives and the way we interact with the world. If we realize that these things are really social constructions, they can therefore be reconstructed.

The beauty of feminism is also that you have to be willing to do that and you have to be OK living in that ambiguous middle ground of, ‘I don’t have what I want right now. I’m not reaching my goals that I need to reach, right now, but I’m happy to just keep fighting,’ because the more that we do, the more we can undo. We have to remember that there’s a larger legacy that’s way behind us, that’s been doing this for much longer than we have. We have to acknowledge and honor that—that we’re only one moment in time of this much larger struggle for liberation. So, you have to position yourself in time and space and realize that it’s bigger than any one of us.”

Beauty In Resistance

“In my feminist utopia, people would have a beautiful combination of human traits because we’re all essentially human. Race, class, and sex wouldn’t matter because we would be liberated from the oppression that is currently tied to each of those constructs. We would be our genuine, authentic selves in whatever way is most fulfilling for each of us. It comes down to when all those labels and identities are stripped away, who are we really?”

 

Graham Ritter

 “In my feminist utopia, everybody would be able to do what one wants without fear of judgment from anybody. It is a place where the expectations of being gay and straight would not exist on a strict binary, but rather in a fluid manner where there would still be space for diverse individuals to come together as a community. Currently, there’s a lot of things you can’t enjoy for the fear of being gay or being thought of as gay, and once you come out, it completely erases those pressures. For example, I  love  reality TV, especially shows like  Keeping Up with the Kardashians  and  RuPaul’s Drag Race , so when I came out, the pressure of hiding that side of me went away. However, once you do come out, you’re then placed in an all-encompassing gay binary with expectations of how to be gay, how to be friends with other gay people, etc. For instance, the way that I dress is much more ‘straight’-presenting and it sometimes makes me feel isolated because I don’t know if other people know that I’m gay. I also think becoming friends with a girl is one of the easiest things in the world, but becoming friends with a guy is very intimidating. With straight guys, I do feel a little bit of a step away from them because we don’t have the ‘Ohhh love girls’ type of thing and I don’t like sports, so the commonalities are not there. But becoming friends with gay guys is also very intimidating because I don’t know if I fit the type of gay that they may be expecting me to be.”

“In my feminist utopia, everybody would be able to do what one wants without fear of judgment from anybody. It is a place where the expectations of being gay and straight would not exist on a strict binary, but rather in a fluid manner where there would still be space for diverse individuals to come together as a community. Currently, there’s a lot of things you can’t enjoy for the fear of being gay or being thought of as gay, and once you come out, it completely erases those pressures. For example, I love reality TV, especially shows like Keeping Up with the Kardashians and RuPaul’s Drag Race, so when I came out, the pressure of hiding that side of me went away. However, once you do come out, you’re then placed in an all-encompassing gay binary with expectations of how to be gay, how to be friends with other gay people, etc. For instance, the way that I dress is much more ‘straight’-presenting and it sometimes makes me feel isolated because I don’t know if other people know that I’m gay. I also think becoming friends with a girl is one of the easiest things in the world, but becoming friends with a guy is very intimidating. With straight guys, I do feel a little bit of a step away from them because we don’t have the ‘Ohhh love girls’ type of thing and I don’t like sports, so the commonalities are not there. But becoming friends with gay guys is also very intimidating because I don’t know if I fit the type of gay that they may be expecting me to be.”

Metamorphosis

“In my feminist utopia, everybody would be able to do what one wants without fear of judgment from anybody. It is a place where the expectations of being gay and straight would not exist on a strict binary, but rather in a fluid manner where there would still be space for diverse individuals to come together as a community.”

Alia Kawar

 “In my feminist utopia, expectations wouldn’t be different depending on what your gender is—they would be very neutral. Women wouldn’t be judged for certain things they do that currently seem fine for men to do, whether that’s doing something sexual, trying to get a leadership role, or having ambitions and goals for which women, today, are sometimes deemed incapable of achieving.  So, for me, I played basketball all my life and sports are where gender norms are magnified because women are not given the same opportunities as men. This is due to not being seen as equal in terms of ability or because of their biological features. I’d like for boys and girls, from an early age, to be given the same opportunities in sports to develop the skills to reach their goals because that affects how they’re going to act in real life.  Also, coming from the Middle East—Amman, Jordan specifically—I feel like there are a lot of expectations regarding gender. In school, boys were expected to be aggressive and very outspoken, while girls were expected to be more reserved. I’d like to see boys and men finding it OK to be vulnerable—to create more space and opportunities for boys and girls to see that they’re more equal. Being raised with one brother and one sister, there were also some differences with expectations; my brother would be encouraged to study mechanical engineering and apply to top-notch universities. Even though my sister and I did too, we weren’t as encouraged to study more challenging subjects. While women in the Middle East are typically given the same educational rights as men, I want to see more equal rights in employment—in professional roles.”

“In my feminist utopia, expectations wouldn’t be different depending on what your gender is—they would be very neutral. Women wouldn’t be judged for certain things they do that currently seem fine for men to do, whether that’s doing something sexual, trying to get a leadership role, or having ambitions and goals for which women, today, are sometimes deemed incapable of achieving.

So, for me, I played basketball all my life and sports are where gender norms are magnified because women are not given the same opportunities as men. This is due to not being seen as equal in terms of ability or because of their biological features. I’d like for boys and girls, from an early age, to be given the same opportunities in sports to develop the skills to reach their goals because that affects how they’re going to act in real life.

Also, coming from the Middle East—Amman, Jordan specifically—I feel like there are a lot of expectations regarding gender. In school, boys were expected to be aggressive and very outspoken, while girls were expected to be more reserved. I’d like to see boys and men finding it OK to be vulnerable—to create more space and opportunities for boys and girls to see that they’re more equal. Being raised with one brother and one sister, there were also some differences with expectations; my brother would be encouraged to study mechanical engineering and apply to top-notch universities. Even though my sister and I did too, we weren’t as encouraged to study more challenging subjects. While women in the Middle East are typically given the same educational rights as men, I want to see more equal rights in employment—in professional roles.”

Two Worlds Apart

“In my feminist utopia, expectations wouldn’t be different depending on what your gender is—they would be very neutral. Women wouldn’t be judged for certain things they do that currently seem fine for men to do, whether that’s playing basketball, doing something sexual, trying to get a leadership role, or having ambitions and goals for which women, today, are sometimes deemed incapable of achieving.”

 

Ian Scholer

 “In my feminist utopia, gender roles would be eliminated entirely, which would therefore remove power dynamics and any sort of gender expectations. It would change who does more of what job, who does more of the childcare at home, and other things like that, which would be really important to even out completely. This deconstruction of the social construct of gender would allow us to reach a point where we wouldn’t even need to fill out our gender on a form because it wouldn’t matter. Everyone would just look at it and say ‘why is this important at all?’  This type of world would certainly make relationships easier in the sense that when you eliminate gender roles, that also eliminates power dynamics and any sort of expectation from one side or the other—from what your partner is going to do or not do. This would be important when it comes to who’s responsible for making the money, and who’s responsible for doing a certain job. It would be a world in which men staying at home and taking care of their kids while their wives go and make a lot of money would be completely destigmatized. Overall, there would be a lot less pressure to compete and provide, which oftentimes gets put on men per our own doing. I think for me, it would be a sort of relief because this world would ideally make men far less competitive with one another; I think crime statistics would go way down. That is why I think the patriarchy not only harms women, but harms men as well in a lot of important ways that I don’t think a lot of men think about very often.  In my feminist utopia, all interactions would also change. Right now, it’s fairly well established that the way that men interact with men and women interact with women is very, very different. The way that I interact with other men would change drastically and hopefully, when we put everyone on an equal playing field, men won’t feel compelled to compete against one another and can focus more on building relationships.  Additionally, everyone, regardless of gender, would feel equally comfortable in every environment. This would change how we interact in our daily lives. This thought mostly comes from my experience of seeing how my girl friends are treated in different environments, especially by men. It’s incredibly disheartening every time and without those gender roles and expectations and power dynamics, that type of treatment would disappear. For me it’s all of the safety stuff too. For example, I can walk in certain areas whenever I want to, whereas some of my girl friends can’t.  Would I do anything differently in my feminist utopia? I would be forced to act differently. It would ideally be putting myself down a notch. Society would become a much more level playing field, and right now, it’s pretty rigged towards me, so ideally, that wouldn’t be the case anymore. I think it would be less of a case of me choosing to act differently, but more a case of me being forced to adjust to a world in which everyone is equally comfortable in every environment.”

“In my feminist utopia, gender roles would be eliminated entirely, which would therefore remove power dynamics and any sort of gender expectations. It would change who does more of what job, who does more of the childcare at home, and other things like that, which would be really important to even out completely. This deconstruction of the social construct of gender would allow us to reach a point where we wouldn’t even need to fill out our gender on a form because it wouldn’t matter. Everyone would just look at it and say ‘why is this important at all?’

This type of world would certainly make relationships easier in the sense that when you eliminate gender roles, that also eliminates power dynamics and any sort of expectation from one side or the other—from what your partner is going to do or not do. This would be important when it comes to who’s responsible for making the money, and who’s responsible for doing a certain job. It would be a world in which men staying at home and taking care of their kids while their wives go and make a lot of money would be completely destigmatized. Overall, there would be a lot less pressure to compete and provide, which oftentimes gets put on men per our own doing. I think for me, it would be a sort of relief because this world would ideally make men far less competitive with one another; I think crime statistics would go way down. That is why I think the patriarchy not only harms women, but harms men as well in a lot of important ways that I don’t think a lot of men think about very often.

In my feminist utopia, all interactions would also change. Right now, it’s fairly well established that the way that men interact with men and women interact with women is very, very different. The way that I interact with other men would change drastically and hopefully, when we put everyone on an equal playing field, men won’t feel compelled to compete against one another and can focus more on building relationships.

Additionally, everyone, regardless of gender, would feel equally comfortable in every environment. This would change how we interact in our daily lives. This thought mostly comes from my experience of seeing how my girl friends are treated in different environments, especially by men. It’s incredibly disheartening every time and without those gender roles and expectations and power dynamics, that type of treatment would disappear. For me it’s all of the safety stuff too. For example, I can walk in certain areas whenever I want to, whereas some of my girl friends can’t.

Would I do anything differently in my feminist utopia? I would be forced to act differently. It would ideally be putting myself down a notch. Society would become a much more level playing field, and right now, it’s pretty rigged towards me, so ideally, that wouldn’t be the case anymore. I think it would be less of a case of me choosing to act differently, but more a case of me being forced to adjust to a world in which everyone is equally comfortable in every environment.”

Deconstructing Gender

“In my feminist utopia, gender roles would be eliminated entirely, which would therefore remove power dynamics and any sort of gender expectations. In this much more level playing field, everyone, regardless of gender, would feel equally comfortable in every environment. This would require the deconstruction of the social construct of gender.”

Owen Shome

 “In my feminist utopia, there would not be an information asymmetry; everyone would understand the circumstances of everyone else perfectly so that they could act in accordance with what somebody else is dealing with. Empathy is the most important part of being on the same page—of having everybody be in a flat social hierarchy. When I say ‘empathy’ I mean being slow to judge or transplant one’s experience onto somebody else. For me it’s like ‘I know what this experience is like for me, but I’m talking to you right now, so I’m going to adapt the way that I think to reflect a more open-minded approach.’ But this process is something we usually have to actively think about, rather than something that comes naturally.  I went to an all-boys prep school for high school, so I didn’t really have many friends that were girls until I came to college. There are just things that you think about—or rather, that you don’t think about—as a teenage boy. For example, you can’t even wrap your head around the idea that your experience would be so markedly different than somebody else’s. So, when you come to a way more diverse place, you just realize very quickly that there are things out there you haven’t even considered are things that other people, specifically women in my case, have to think about and deal with on a daily basis. So, for me, the whole thing is a lack of empathy that comes from an information asymmetry. If you’re in a similar setting that I was in, you just don’t have any life experiences that are going to validate that. Even though I grew up in a house that had three women, my two sisters and my mom that I was very close to, it’s such a small sample size that even in that sense, you don’t think about all the things that a woman has to deal with that I would never have to deal with. A lot of that is related to safety, how you’re supposed to act in certain situations, the ability to move up when you’re working, and things like that.  My sister also went to an all-girls school. The philosophy is, if you let girls develop in their own space and get that confidence on their own, it’s better. For me, I really liked going to an all-boys school. I think across the board, we were definitely missing something as a class. But in terms of building those important empathetic skills and listening abilities, you’re in an environment where everybody is your brother. That’s how it’s supposed to be. Everything is super comfortable, which I almost think is kind of a problem because in all-girls and all-boys schools, there’s a level of comfort that I don’t think you get at a co-ed school.  Also, masculinity doesn’t mean one thing. For me, it manifests competitively always, and if there aren’t any girls in the school, then that’s just an aspect of it that’s gone but it’ll manifest in other ways—there’s no avoiding that. I don’t think it eradicates any toxic behavior; it must just come in a different form.”

“In my feminist utopia, there would not be an information asymmetry; everyone would understand the circumstances of everyone else perfectly so that they could act in accordance with what somebody else is dealing with. Empathy is the most important part of being on the same page—of having everybody be in a flat social hierarchy. When I say ‘empathy’ I mean being slow to judge or transplant one’s experience onto somebody else. For me it’s like ‘I know what this experience is like for me, but I’m talking to you right now, so I’m going to adapt the way that I think to reflect a more open-minded approach.’ But this process is something we usually have to actively think about, rather than something that comes naturally.

I went to an all-boys prep school for high school, so I didn’t really have many friends that were girls until I came to college. There are just things that you think about—or rather, that you don’t think about—as a teenage boy. For example, you can’t even wrap your head around the idea that your experience would be so markedly different than somebody else’s. So, when you come to a way more diverse place, you just realize very quickly that there are things out there you haven’t even considered are things that other people, specifically women in my case, have to think about and deal with on a daily basis. So, for me, the whole thing is a lack of empathy that comes from an information asymmetry. If you’re in a similar setting that I was in, you just don’t have any life experiences that are going to validate that. Even though I grew up in a house that had three women, my two sisters and my mom that I was very close to, it’s such a small sample size that even in that sense, you don’t think about all the things that a woman has to deal with that I would never have to deal with. A lot of that is related to safety, how you’re supposed to act in certain situations, the ability to move up when you’re working, and things like that.

My sister also went to an all-girls school. The philosophy is, if you let girls develop in their own space and get that confidence on their own, it’s better. For me, I really liked going to an all-boys school. I think across the board, we were definitely missing something as a class. But in terms of building those important empathetic skills and listening abilities, you’re in an environment where everybody is your brother. That’s how it’s supposed to be. Everything is super comfortable, which I almost think is kind of a problem because in all-girls and all-boys schools, there’s a level of comfort that I don’t think you get at a co-ed school.

Also, masculinity doesn’t mean one thing. For me, it manifests competitively always, and if there aren’t any girls in the school, then that’s just an aspect of it that’s gone but it’ll manifest in other ways—there’s no avoiding that. I don’t think it eradicates any toxic behavior; it must just come in a different form.”

Symmetrical Empathy

“In my feminist utopia, there would not be an information asymmetry; everyone would understand the circumstances of everyone else perfectly so that they could act in accordance with what somebody else is dealing with. Empathy is the most important part of being on the same page—of having everybody be in a flat social hierarchy.”

 

Sebastien Pierre-Louis

 “In my feminist utopia, a holistic space that’s not based in patriarchy, we would fight for equity, not just equality; create new systems by tapping into knowledge bases that aren’t conventional and embracing people we’ve historically deemed nonhuman; and be more inclusive by rethinking what feminism is, embracing a womanist approach, and understanding that not all women are feminine.  First, a feminist utopia should fight for equity, not equality. The difference there is that we understand that our system as it is today is very patriarchal and puts people at different levels such that if we create an equal system, there are already people that have an equality base. If we’re giving everyone the same playing field, it still creates inequality. Versus equity, we actually understand that people are in different positions based on the corrupt systems that we have today. We need to give equity in which we give proportional balances of what society should look like.  Second, I think a feminist utopia has to change systems and institutions as opposed to adopting the ones we already have because the idea of a feminist utopia suggests that there’s some equity but the way in which our society works, equity is never fully equitable, so to create a feminist utopia, you actually have to reconstruct the world and what it looks like outside of just feminism. To have this utopia, you have to create a system that’s not here, which means you have to tap into knowledge bases that aren’t conventional. Western knowledge is what we typically deem as scientific proof. Given the language that we speak, our knowledge base is very limited. There’s a lot of knowledge we can’t find and we can’t understand just because we can’t read it. However, there are so many different knowledge bases that we need to tap into to create a different system. When seeking that knowledge, we need to make sure we’re doing it correctly because appropriation of knowledge is a problem, as we’ve seen with Native Americans. To create this new system and new institution, we have to embrace other people that we’ve historically deemed nonhuman. For example, black knowledge is not spoken about in schools, for the most part. We have a knowledge base that is completely different from Western knowledge but historically has been deemed not worthy of being scientific proof—it’s called ‘mysticism,’ ‘voodoo,’ and all these different things that are actually knowledge bases—different ways of conceiving society. So, a feminist utopia should embrace all knowledge systems.  Regarding these knowledge systems, there are a lot of them we can’t tap into because people don’t trust us. That’s going to be hard to rewrite, because there are a lot of reasons to not trust us—even you and me—because we live in this society. They know we’re American; that means exploitation, imperialism, etc. There needs to be a sense of trust in a feminist utopia that there isn’t today. We need to create connections with people that have historically been marginalized and placed on the sidelines of history. I also think there’s a lot of distrust between men and women and even distrust between women and trans women. We need to sit down and see, ‘how can I trust you by giving you all of me, when historically, you didn’t want to know 1% of who I was and why I’m here.’ That’s a hard thing to do. But in a world that’s utopic, we would have those discussions. Not only in a classroom setting—not just going in and doing research and trying to get a Nobel Peace Prize—but actually sit in places where we’ve ruined things and try to understand how we can fix it with the people that we’ve ruined.  We must create a bridge between where we are versus where a lot of the small pockets of the world are. Essentially, many are separated or disintermediated from the actual ‘society.’ We do that with a lot of people, and women as well. For men, we want to be kind of in the middle where we’re like, ‘we support women,’ but we’re doing all this stuff on the side where we support men as well, and by doing that, we’re actually not fully supporting women; we’re just kind of playing this liberal middle ground where we’re getting the best of both worlds without actually understanding that to be in a utopic society we’re going to have to give women some of the stuff that we love so much in our patriarchy. I don’t feel like people want to grapple with the fact that they’re going to lose some of the things that give them what they have because they think that everything is a meritocracy. A lot of men aren’t having that conversation because I think men, like me, think we deserve to be here based on what we did, and we don’t understand how institutions and systems under us have actually pushed us above women who are three or four times more qualified. We’re scared of having those discussions.  In a feminist utopia, we would also give credit where it’s due, as opposed to this fake meritocracy we have today. A lot of the times, men take credit for things that women do and don’t give them credit. We need to be affirming. I feel like there are a lot of women behind much of the knowledge that men ‘produce.’ I think it’s important to always go back to the source, which has historically been women. So, for men to have all this knowledge that they think is their own, without understanding that women allowed them to even be in the place where they could even tap into this knowledge, I think is something we don’t talk about a lot. So, affirming women is something a utopic world would have—affirmation in general.  Finally, a feminist utopia has to be more inclusive. I’ve always struggled with feminism. A feminist utopia has to understand that not all women are feminine. It’s always been this battle between feminism and womanism. I do think feminism has breadth to take in all women, but historically it hasn’t. For feminism to evolve to actually become utopic, it has to rethink what feminism is and ultimately embrace a womanist approach to create a holistic space that’s not based in patriarchy.”

“In my feminist utopia, a holistic space that’s not based in patriarchy, we would fight for equity, not just equality; create new systems by tapping into knowledge bases that aren’t conventional and embracing people we’ve historically deemed nonhuman; and be more inclusive by rethinking what feminism is, embracing a womanist approach, and understanding that not all women are feminine.

First, a feminist utopia should fight for equity, not equality. The difference there is that we understand that our system as it is today is very patriarchal and puts people at different levels such that if we create an equal system, there are already people that have an equality base. If we’re giving everyone the same playing field, it still creates inequality. Versus equity, we actually understand that people are in different positions based on the corrupt systems that we have today. We need to give equity in which we give proportional balances of what society should look like.

Second, I think a feminist utopia has to change systems and institutions as opposed to adopting the ones we already have because the idea of a feminist utopia suggests that there’s some equity but the way in which our society works, equity is never fully equitable, so to create a feminist utopia, you actually have to reconstruct the world and what it looks like outside of just feminism. To have this utopia, you have to create a system that’s not here, which means you have to tap into knowledge bases that aren’t conventional. Western knowledge is what we typically deem as scientific proof. Given the language that we speak, our knowledge base is very limited. There’s a lot of knowledge we can’t find and we can’t understand just because we can’t read it. However, there are so many different knowledge bases that we need to tap into to create a different system. When seeking that knowledge, we need to make sure we’re doing it correctly because appropriation of knowledge is a problem, as we’ve seen with Native Americans. To create this new system and new institution, we have to embrace other people that we’ve historically deemed nonhuman. For example, black knowledge is not spoken about in schools, for the most part. We have a knowledge base that is completely different from Western knowledge but historically has been deemed not worthy of being scientific proof—it’s called ‘mysticism,’ ‘voodoo,’ and all these different things that are actually knowledge bases—different ways of conceiving society. So, a feminist utopia should embrace all knowledge systems.

Regarding these knowledge systems, there are a lot of them we can’t tap into because people don’t trust us. That’s going to be hard to rewrite, because there are a lot of reasons to not trust us—even you and me—because we live in this society. They know we’re American; that means exploitation, imperialism, etc. There needs to be a sense of trust in a feminist utopia that there isn’t today. We need to create connections with people that have historically been marginalized and placed on the sidelines of history. I also think there’s a lot of distrust between men and women and even distrust between women and trans women. We need to sit down and see, ‘how can I trust you by giving you all of me, when historically, you didn’t want to know 1% of who I was and why I’m here.’ That’s a hard thing to do. But in a world that’s utopic, we would have those discussions. Not only in a classroom setting—not just going in and doing research and trying to get a Nobel Peace Prize—but actually sit in places where we’ve ruined things and try to understand how we can fix it with the people that we’ve ruined.

We must create a bridge between where we are versus where a lot of the small pockets of the world are. Essentially, many are separated or disintermediated from the actual ‘society.’ We do that with a lot of people, and women as well. For men, we want to be kind of in the middle where we’re like, ‘we support women,’ but we’re doing all this stuff on the side where we support men as well, and by doing that, we’re actually not fully supporting women; we’re just kind of playing this liberal middle ground where we’re getting the best of both worlds without actually understanding that to be in a utopic society we’re going to have to give women some of the stuff that we love so much in our patriarchy. I don’t feel like people want to grapple with the fact that they’re going to lose some of the things that give them what they have because they think that everything is a meritocracy. A lot of men aren’t having that conversation because I think men, like me, think we deserve to be here based on what we did, and we don’t understand how institutions and systems under us have actually pushed us above women who are three or four times more qualified. We’re scared of having those discussions.

In a feminist utopia, we would also give credit where it’s due, as opposed to this fake meritocracy we have today. A lot of the times, men take credit for things that women do and don’t give them credit. We need to be affirming. I feel like there are a lot of women behind much of the knowledge that men ‘produce.’ I think it’s important to always go back to the source, which has historically been women. So, for men to have all this knowledge that they think is their own, without understanding that women allowed them to even be in the place where they could even tap into this knowledge, I think is something we don’t talk about a lot. So, affirming women is something a utopic world would have—affirmation in general.

Finally, a feminist utopia has to be more inclusive. I’ve always struggled with feminism. A feminist utopia has to understand that not all women are feminine. It’s always been this battle between feminism and womanism. I do think feminism has breadth to take in all women, but historically it hasn’t. For feminism to evolve to actually become utopic, it has to rethink what feminism is and ultimately embrace a womanist approach to create a holistic space that’s not based in patriarchy.”

A World Out of This World

“In my feminist utopia, a holistic space that’s not based in patriarchy, we would fight for equity, not just equality; create new systems by tapping into knowledge bases that aren’t conventional and embracing people we’ve historically deemed nonhuman; and be more inclusive by rethinking what feminism is, embracing a womanist approach, and understanding that not all women are feminine.”

Claudia Chen

 “In my feminist utopia, any career field—specifically business, which is so male-dominated—would not be a scary place for women. Anyone, regardless of gender, would have the opportunity to succeed. A woman would be able to go into an interview or a job without thinking ‘I’m not going to be able to relate to my interviewers or coworkers’ or go into a class without thinking ‘my voice isn’t going to be heard when we’re giving a presentation or just talking in class.’ Rather, a woman would think, ‘what I have to say is as valuable as what the men at work or in my class have to say.’  Being in the business school gives me a different perspective when it comes to the expectations of the gender binary, of being a man or woman, and what that means. Not that I notice it that much on my day-to-day, but I definitely think that in the business school the expectations of gender are very defined. The stereotype of business is to be ruthless and aggressive. The stereotype is that guys are just more like that. I do feel like the business school’s stereotype is the way it is because of the curve, the competition, and the careers that are associated with it.  I remember freshmen year, I was in a group project. It was me, my friend who is a girl, and two guys we were randomly paired with. We worked all together on the project and it was totally fine, but the morning of the presentation, the two guys in our group messaged my friend and I and said, ‘We changed the presentation, so  we’ll  present it because  we  know what the new presentation is about.’ Nothing that explicit had ever happened to me before. They obviously didn’t explicitly say ‘Oh, you’re girls, so you don’t know as much about this topic and that’s why we changed it and are now presenting it,’ but my friend and I took it that way and it came off that way as well. That’s really the one instance that I can think of where it was  that  explicit. It was crazy. It was my first semester at Georgetown and my only business class. It made me wonder, ‘Is this always going to happen?’  I’m an accounting major, and I feel like a lot of people in the business school go into banking, which is a very male-dominated field. A lot of my classes are also majority-male and guys will often take over the discussions. I’ve had professors who I’ve noticed in the past will call on just the guys in the class. I don’t think it’s necessarily a conscious thing—it’s just how it is. That really frustrates me because it affects everything from classes to recruiting and ultimately, the way girls perceive their worth and value in various settings. For instance, I went through a recruiting thing for sophomores and it was basically a ‘get to know your interviewer’ session. One example that was given was if the interviewer is a man who plays the same sports as you, then you can talk about the sports you’re interested in. Not to say girls can’t play sports, but I feel like that sort of thing lends itself a lot to the guys who are interested in finance.  Also, in my feminist utopia, girls would find happiness and worth in their own selves and in what they’re doing versus trying to get the attention of other people, no matter what the gender. In a lot of conversations with my girl friends, I’ve noticed that some of them get their worth from romantic relationships or interactions with guys and that makes me really sad because you’re your own person and I feel like a lot of girls root their worth in whether they’re having romantic relationships with guys or how they’re being treated by guys. A lot of people have this perception that ‘guys are stupid,’ but you can’t just say that all guys are stupid or dumb. I feel like that perception comes from the fact that if you’re rooting your worth in guys who aren’t treating you right, then you’re just going to think that guys as a whole are ridiculous or stupid. The flipside to ‘guys are stupid’ is ‘girls are crazy’. While I’m sure there are things that some people do to make that true, not all girls are crazy and not all guys are stupid.”

“In my feminist utopia, any career field—specifically business, which is so male-dominated—would not be a scary place for women. Anyone, regardless of gender, would have the opportunity to succeed. A woman would be able to go into an interview or a job without thinking ‘I’m not going to be able to relate to my interviewers or coworkers’ or go into a class without thinking ‘my voice isn’t going to be heard when we’re giving a presentation or just talking in class.’ Rather, a woman would think, ‘what I have to say is as valuable as what the men at work or in my class have to say.’

Being in the business school gives me a different perspective when it comes to the expectations of the gender binary, of being a man or woman, and what that means. Not that I notice it that much on my day-to-day, but I definitely think that in the business school the expectations of gender are very defined. The stereotype of business is to be ruthless and aggressive. The stereotype is that guys are just more like that. I do feel like the business school’s stereotype is the way it is because of the curve, the competition, and the careers that are associated with it.

I remember freshmen year, I was in a group project. It was me, my friend who is a girl, and two guys we were randomly paired with. We worked all together on the project and it was totally fine, but the morning of the presentation, the two guys in our group messaged my friend and I and said, ‘We changed the presentation, so we’ll present it because we know what the new presentation is about.’ Nothing that explicit had ever happened to me before. They obviously didn’t explicitly say ‘Oh, you’re girls, so you don’t know as much about this topic and that’s why we changed it and are now presenting it,’ but my friend and I took it that way and it came off that way as well. That’s really the one instance that I can think of where it was that explicit. It was crazy. It was my first semester at Georgetown and my only business class. It made me wonder, ‘Is this always going to happen?’

I’m an accounting major, and I feel like a lot of people in the business school go into banking, which is a very male-dominated field. A lot of my classes are also majority-male and guys will often take over the discussions. I’ve had professors who I’ve noticed in the past will call on just the guys in the class. I don’t think it’s necessarily a conscious thing—it’s just how it is. That really frustrates me because it affects everything from classes to recruiting and ultimately, the way girls perceive their worth and value in various settings. For instance, I went through a recruiting thing for sophomores and it was basically a ‘get to know your interviewer’ session. One example that was given was if the interviewer is a man who plays the same sports as you, then you can talk about the sports you’re interested in. Not to say girls can’t play sports, but I feel like that sort of thing lends itself a lot to the guys who are interested in finance.

Also, in my feminist utopia, girls would find happiness and worth in their own selves and in what they’re doing versus trying to get the attention of other people, no matter what the gender. In a lot of conversations with my girl friends, I’ve noticed that some of them get their worth from romantic relationships or interactions with guys and that makes me really sad because you’re your own person and I feel like a lot of girls root their worth in whether they’re having romantic relationships with guys or how they’re being treated by guys. A lot of people have this perception that ‘guys are stupid,’ but you can’t just say that all guys are stupid or dumb. I feel like that perception comes from the fact that if you’re rooting your worth in guys who aren’t treating you right, then you’re just going to think that guys as a whole are ridiculous or stupid. The flipside to ‘guys are stupid’ is ‘girls are crazy’. While I’m sure there are things that some people do to make that true, not all girls are crazy and not all guys are stupid.”

A Shattered Ceiling

“In my feminist utopia, any career field—specifically business, which is so male-dominated—would not be a scary place for women. Anyone, regardless of gender, would have the opportunity to succeed. A woman would be able to go to class or work without thinking ‘my voice isn’t going to be heard.’ Rather, a woman would think, ‘what I have to say is as valuable as what the men I work with have to say.’”

 

Alejandro Lesmes

 “In my feminist utopia, social relationships would dramatically change. There would be a greater balance in the use of talents and skills of both genders. People would have a greater freedom regarding what they want to do in life. It’ll strongly push more women to be engaged in more roles in public policy, the sciences, like applied mathematics and engineering, etc.  Oftentimes, I find that the roles we currently have in our society make people a certain way; they diminish the value of a partner depending on his or her gender. In my feminist utopia, women wouldn’t feel pressure to at any point leave their careers aside due to kids. This would allow more women to aspire to what they really want to do in life, as well as from a young age; girls would not be limited in school to perform certain roles in society. In the end, it will allow, in relationships, for both partners to have the same so-called ‘bargaining power.’ Oftentimes, in our current society, many women are not able to leave an unhappy relationship because they do not have the financial independence and freedom to do so. So, in a utopic world, there would be equal distribution of responsibilities and duties among partners, both financially and emotionally. Currently, mothers oftentimes—even though it may not directly be stated—feel like they have the responsibility to be the primary caregivers and to fix whatever happens to their kids.  The workforce, which also relates to the realm of politics, is currently a male-dominated world— we can see that it’s a lot about being tough. Because being tough, harsh, and strong is what we consider, nowadays, a masculine quality. But this power struggle in which we threaten one another is probably not the best idea in many scenarios. For example, in war, with presidents being mostly male and wanting to show superiority and manliness when dealing with other countries’ leaders, we tend to drift away from actual mutual understanding and collaboration. We try to be the best and the strongest, rather than working together to create synergies that allow for greater well-being and output.  Being from Colombia, I see a lot of differences between the culture back home versus the one here in the U.S. Speaking about society in general, in Colombia, it’s very much a culture where men are literally the primary financial providers and therefore, many women face the atrocity of having to bear relationships and circumstances that are really bad for them, like sustained abuse, even rape, just to have somewhere to live because if they leave and they get separated, they might not know how to find food or shelter. Here at Georgetown, women are really empowered, but just comparing Georgetown women to average women in Colombia—maybe not from my closest friends because in my school, fortunately, girls were really privileged and could pursue anything they wanted—the contributions that women make to society are not as relevant in the eyes of the country in the sense that women are not encouraged to be the best that they can be. Many of them automatically assume that their role in life is to provide for their spouse and for their kids, and to basically be a mother. That also plays a role into child pregnancies and how women are the ones who have to bear the consequences of teenage pregnancies, and oftentimes, the guy leaves, basically ‘dooming’ the woman’s entire life moving forward because she doesn’t have the available resources to actually develop, have a career, and have a child.  Additionally, in Colombia, women are primarily seen as objects, solely seen as sources of pleasure and beauty. That is exemplified in the amount of fashion shows and carnivals that we have in Colombia. Of course, they’re there to celebrate and there’s some meaning behind it, but it just puts a lot of pressure on women’s images. I think oftentimes, the value of many Latinas comes from their hair, their eyes, their bodies, and that is also exemplified in the amount of surgeries that they have. Basically, they’re exploited just to be beautiful and be pleasing to the eye, while in the U.S., I see women that want to make a change, go into politics, be bankers, and want to run the world. When comparing it to the average Colombian population, I just feel that Colombian girls don’t even have those ambitions; they’re just not raised that way. They see their mothers and they assume their job is to be just like them. Women thus learn to assess themselves and their self-worth by their beauty. Beauty therefore correlates to how many guys pay attention to them, so they base their value on the perceptions that men have over them, which creates a dynamic in which women are not able to grow and truly blossom because men are judging them…and men are those that possess the power.  I think it’s important to talk about this stuff because for example, if I have any kids of my own or if I marry someone, I hope to find a person and raise girls that are empowered and can actually change the world. This might sound very drastic from my point of view, but I want them to not only contribute to my family, but to society. When women stay at home, as is the case for many Latin American women, it’s not only bad for them—as women and as members of society—but for society in general because the potential of those women that are not taking advantage of their true capabilities will never fully contribute to our economic system, our society, and to all of the advancements that they could be helping create and innovate—literally making the world a better place.”

“In my feminist utopia, social relationships would dramatically change. There would be a greater balance in the use of talents and skills of both genders. People would have a greater freedom regarding what they want to do in life. It’ll strongly push more women to be engaged in more roles in public policy, the sciences, like applied mathematics and engineering, etc.

Oftentimes, I find that the roles we currently have in our society make people a certain way; they diminish the value of a partner depending on his or her gender. In my feminist utopia, women wouldn’t feel pressure to at any point leave their careers aside due to kids. This would allow more women to aspire to what they really want to do in life, as well as from a young age; girls would not be limited in school to perform certain roles in society. In the end, it will allow, in relationships, for both partners to have the same so-called ‘bargaining power.’ Oftentimes, in our current society, many women are not able to leave an unhappy relationship because they do not have the financial independence and freedom to do so. So, in a utopic world, there would be equal distribution of responsibilities and duties among partners, both financially and emotionally. Currently, mothers oftentimes—even though it may not directly be stated—feel like they have the responsibility to be the primary caregivers and to fix whatever happens to their kids.

The workforce, which also relates to the realm of politics, is currently a male-dominated world— we can see that it’s a lot about being tough. Because being tough, harsh, and strong is what we consider, nowadays, a masculine quality. But this power struggle in which we threaten one another is probably not the best idea in many scenarios. For example, in war, with presidents being mostly male and wanting to show superiority and manliness when dealing with other countries’ leaders, we tend to drift away from actual mutual understanding and collaboration. We try to be the best and the strongest, rather than working together to create synergies that allow for greater well-being and output.

Being from Colombia, I see a lot of differences between the culture back home versus the one here in the U.S. Speaking about society in general, in Colombia, it’s very much a culture where men are literally the primary financial providers and therefore, many women face the atrocity of having to bear relationships and circumstances that are really bad for them, like sustained abuse, even rape, just to have somewhere to live because if they leave and they get separated, they might not know how to find food or shelter. Here at Georgetown, women are really empowered, but just comparing Georgetown women to average women in Colombia—maybe not from my closest friends because in my school, fortunately, girls were really privileged and could pursue anything they wanted—the contributions that women make to society are not as relevant in the eyes of the country in the sense that women are not encouraged to be the best that they can be. Many of them automatically assume that their role in life is to provide for their spouse and for their kids, and to basically be a mother. That also plays a role into child pregnancies and how women are the ones who have to bear the consequences of teenage pregnancies, and oftentimes, the guy leaves, basically ‘dooming’ the woman’s entire life moving forward because she doesn’t have the available resources to actually develop, have a career, and have a child.

Additionally, in Colombia, women are primarily seen as objects, solely seen as sources of pleasure and beauty. That is exemplified in the amount of fashion shows and carnivals that we have in Colombia. Of course, they’re there to celebrate and there’s some meaning behind it, but it just puts a lot of pressure on women’s images. I think oftentimes, the value of many Latinas comes from their hair, their eyes, their bodies, and that is also exemplified in the amount of surgeries that they have. Basically, they’re exploited just to be beautiful and be pleasing to the eye, while in the U.S., I see women that want to make a change, go into politics, be bankers, and want to run the world. When comparing it to the average Colombian population, I just feel that Colombian girls don’t even have those ambitions; they’re just not raised that way. They see their mothers and they assume their job is to be just like them. Women thus learn to assess themselves and their self-worth by their beauty. Beauty therefore correlates to how many guys pay attention to them, so they base their value on the perceptions that men have over them, which creates a dynamic in which women are not able to grow and truly blossom because men are judging them…and men are those that possess the power.

I think it’s important to talk about this stuff because for example, if I have any kids of my own or if I marry someone, I hope to find a person and raise girls that are empowered and can actually change the world. This might sound very drastic from my point of view, but I want them to not only contribute to my family, but to society. When women stay at home, as is the case for many Latin American women, it’s not only bad for them—as women and as members of society—but for society in general because the potential of those women that are not taking advantage of their true capabilities will never fully contribute to our economic system, our society, and to all of the advancements that they could be helping create and innovate—literally making the world a better place.”

Freed

“In my feminist utopia, women would not be limited in school to perform certain roles in society and would be free to aspire to what they really want to do in life. There would thus be an equal distribution of responsibilities among partners, both financially and emotionally. Women, as contributing members of society, would be able to fully take advantage of their true capabilities, making the world a better place for all.”

Mackenzie Foy

 “My feminist utopia would have no competition—or at least no losers—and a healthy relationship to the earth and our natural systems.  I was thinking about competition and how that’s very toxic, generally, and also masculine. Competition for survival seems particularly toxic, which is something women and femmes have to deal with all the time. For example, you need to get a good job otherwise you can’t eat, you need to pay your bills, and you also have to pay to live on the land—you don’t have a choice to not live on the land. Those types of competition are both toxic and masculine and in a utopic world, that wouldn’t exist. I think competition is inherently masculine; the idea that there has to be a winner and a loser…that’s a binary. The winner is oftentimes someone who is aggressive, more powerful, and better resourced—all things I associate with masculinity. Especially domination…that’s what a winner is. In a capitalist sense, a winner is definitely an authority, a singular powerful figure, and that’s not the only style of winner or competition that can exist. I think about communities winning. What would that look like? Or where there’s not actually a loser at all—where everyone wins. Things like abundance come into play. If there’s enough of everything where there doesn’t have to be a loser—there’s no winner-loser economy at all—everyone has what they need because it’s all there and we’re not competing for it.  I also think environmental sustainability is inherently feminist and also utopic…and we’re doing the opposite of that right now. In my feminist utopia, I would hope to be able to not work. I have a complicated relationship to work. First off, it’s demanded in our current system; you have to work to survive and you have to work to not be a loser. Especially at Georgetown, in this type of stress culture, if you’re not doing 8 different things, it’s kind of weird. I know that when I graduate I’m still going to have to work for someone in order to get paid and I think in a world where there’s no losers or where we have a healthy relationship to the land, I don’t have to work in a traditional sense, I can chill in some space and take care of a river and just do that. Or I can take care of a farm. I think a world where we have to work is very stressful and bad for your body and the world; it’s unnatural.  I think this utopic world in a way is possible. I can’t imagine the steps it would take to get there and actually something I resent is when people are like, ‘but how?’ because it’s not my job to figure out how—it’s collective responsibility. I’m not supposed to know the answer; I didn’t invent imperialism and I’m not going to invent the answer…maybe, who knows, but probably not. That’s something we would have to work on to figure out. I know I said we wouldn’t have to do work, but we would have to do  that  work in order to actually create that system and it would look like trial and error. We do so much work to uphold patriarchy that we could spend some time just deconstructing it. That would be cool. There’s a lot of fundamental restructuring that would need to be done and I acknowledge that it’s challenging, especially as far as we’ve gotten into this way of being. It’s hard to step back and be like, ‘OK, let’s just start from scratch.’ No one wants to hear that. But when we have a climate crisis then we’ll have to…when it becomes unbearable to live in this climate…I don’t know…I don’t think we can go back, but we have to go somewhere—maybe sideways.  I also do see some of this feminist utopia in our current world. To me, nonbinary folks embody that; it’s about respecting your intuition about yourself. If more people did that, we’d be more open to ideas of more winners. It’s a communal and relative process to me—defining myself—and I think that process would also belong in my utopic world. For me, nobody ever told me I was non-binary and people are constantly telling me I’m not actually, and are questioning who I think I am. As a gender non-conforming person, I didn’t feel a pressure to choose masculinity or femininity. It’s also less as I get older. We respond to children and young people expressing their gender very weirdly and viscerally. But with an adult, there’s usually less of ‘Why are you wearing that?’ but as a kid, it was very much like, ‘Don’t sit like that,’ ‘You’re being too tomboy-ish,’ ‘that’s not what girls do,’ etc. Growing up and being an adult, it’s less. People look at me weird, but that’s fun. So, I don’t mind that. And also, I’ve been able to have a queer community of gender-queer folk around me, so in that way, I don’t feel pressure to be some sort of way. But as a kid it was harder. Even finding the language to describe who I am was impossible. Because my family is a very hetero family arrangement, I didn’t even know it was an option.  Also, witches are the number one example of my feminist utopia. I’m writing a thesis on it. I feel like, in fact I know that, witches and folks who practice conjuring and root work are very in tune with natural systems. They respect them and have a very reciprocal relationship with the earth. That, to me, is what the underpinning of magic is. How they do that kind of herbalism and creation of medicines is a healing practice that’s based in natural systems—it’s ancient; they used to practice in different ways. I think that cult has a lot of specific white European connotations and that’s not what I’m talking about. I’m talking about people of color and indigenous and neo-indigenous communities who have been doing this kind of conjuring work for a long time. That, to me, is part of the healing and restorative practices that come along with it…not so much the hexing and the stuff on the offense, but the stuff on the defense. That would all be in my feminist utopia and that’s here now; it has been in the past and it will be in the future, so we can hang onto that.

“My feminist utopia would have no competition—or at least no losers—and a healthy relationship to the earth and our natural systems.

I was thinking about competition and how that’s very toxic, generally, and also masculine. Competition for survival seems particularly toxic, which is something women and femmes have to deal with all the time. For example, you need to get a good job otherwise you can’t eat, you need to pay your bills, and you also have to pay to live on the land—you don’t have a choice to not live on the land. Those types of competition are both toxic and masculine and in a utopic world, that wouldn’t exist. I think competition is inherently masculine; the idea that there has to be a winner and a loser…that’s a binary. The winner is oftentimes someone who is aggressive, more powerful, and better resourced—all things I associate with masculinity. Especially domination…that’s what a winner is. In a capitalist sense, a winner is definitely an authority, a singular powerful figure, and that’s not the only style of winner or competition that can exist. I think about communities winning. What would that look like? Or where there’s not actually a loser at all—where everyone wins. Things like abundance come into play. If there’s enough of everything where there doesn’t have to be a loser—there’s no winner-loser economy at all—everyone has what they need because it’s all there and we’re not competing for it.

I also think environmental sustainability is inherently feminist and also utopic…and we’re doing the opposite of that right now. In my feminist utopia, I would hope to be able to not work. I have a complicated relationship to work. First off, it’s demanded in our current system; you have to work to survive and you have to work to not be a loser. Especially at Georgetown, in this type of stress culture, if you’re not doing 8 different things, it’s kind of weird. I know that when I graduate I’m still going to have to work for someone in order to get paid and I think in a world where there’s no losers or where we have a healthy relationship to the land, I don’t have to work in a traditional sense, I can chill in some space and take care of a river and just do that. Or I can take care of a farm. I think a world where we have to work is very stressful and bad for your body and the world; it’s unnatural.

I think this utopic world in a way is possible. I can’t imagine the steps it would take to get there and actually something I resent is when people are like, ‘but how?’ because it’s not my job to figure out how—it’s collective responsibility. I’m not supposed to know the answer; I didn’t invent imperialism and I’m not going to invent the answer…maybe, who knows, but probably not. That’s something we would have to work on to figure out. I know I said we wouldn’t have to do work, but we would have to do that work in order to actually create that system and it would look like trial and error. We do so much work to uphold patriarchy that we could spend some time just deconstructing it. That would be cool. There’s a lot of fundamental restructuring that would need to be done and I acknowledge that it’s challenging, especially as far as we’ve gotten into this way of being. It’s hard to step back and be like, ‘OK, let’s just start from scratch.’ No one wants to hear that. But when we have a climate crisis then we’ll have to…when it becomes unbearable to live in this climate…I don’t know…I don’t think we can go back, but we have to go somewhere—maybe sideways.

I also do see some of this feminist utopia in our current world. To me, nonbinary folks embody that; it’s about respecting your intuition about yourself. If more people did that, we’d be more open to ideas of more winners. It’s a communal and relative process to me—defining myself—and I think that process would also belong in my utopic world. For me, nobody ever told me I was non-binary and people are constantly telling me I’m not actually, and are questioning who I think I am. As a gender non-conforming person, I didn’t feel a pressure to choose masculinity or femininity. It’s also less as I get older. We respond to children and young people expressing their gender very weirdly and viscerally. But with an adult, there’s usually less of ‘Why are you wearing that?’ but as a kid, it was very much like, ‘Don’t sit like that,’ ‘You’re being too tomboy-ish,’ ‘that’s not what girls do,’ etc. Growing up and being an adult, it’s less. People look at me weird, but that’s fun. So, I don’t mind that. And also, I’ve been able to have a queer community of gender-queer folk around me, so in that way, I don’t feel pressure to be some sort of way. But as a kid it was harder. Even finding the language to describe who I am was impossible. Because my family is a very hetero family arrangement, I didn’t even know it was an option.

Also, witches are the number one example of my feminist utopia. I’m writing a thesis on it. I feel like, in fact I know that, witches and folks who practice conjuring and root work are very in tune with natural systems. They respect them and have a very reciprocal relationship with the earth. That, to me, is what the underpinning of magic is. How they do that kind of herbalism and creation of medicines is a healing practice that’s based in natural systems—it’s ancient; they used to practice in different ways. I think that cult has a lot of specific white European connotations and that’s not what I’m talking about. I’m talking about people of color and indigenous and neo-indigenous communities who have been doing this kind of conjuring work for a long time. That, to me, is part of the healing and restorative practices that come along with it…not so much the hexing and the stuff on the offense, but the stuff on the defense. That would all be in my feminist utopia and that’s here now; it has been in the past and it will be in the future, so we can hang onto that.

One With Nature

“In my feminist utopia, we would have no competition—or at least no losers—and a healthy relationship to the earth and our natural systems. To me, nonbinary folks embody that; it’s about respecting your intuition about yourself. If more people did that, we’d be more open to ideas of more winners. It’s a communal and relative process to me—defining myself—and I think that process would also belong in my utopic world.”

Michele Dale