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Students participate in Women’s History Month discussions

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Photo from http://harveymackay.com/
Photo courtesy of harveymackay.com

Throughout the month of March, CSU-Pueblo has participated in the celebration of Women’s History Month by offering various events related to women’s studies.

On March 17, history professor Judy Gaughan gave a presentation, First Ladies and Emperors’ Wives, in which she compared the women of the Roman Empire and the wives of the U.S. presidents.

Gaughan’s presentation focused on “the relationship between power and gender and also whether there is a line between private and public displays relating to gender,” she said.

The presentation covered the societal perception of genders, specifically women.

Gaughan said she found similarities between first lady Martha Washington and the wife of a Roman emperor, Livia Drusilla.

“Both women had more money than their husbands, more connections, and offered ideal examples of what women should be during their time,” Gaughan said.

Following Gaughan’s presentation, CSU-Pueblo women’s rights group I Am That Girl held an open debate over the book and film “Fifty Shades of Grey.”  Approximately 13 people participated in the discussion, including one male.

The discussion focused largely on the portrayal of BDSM culture and whether or not “Fifty Shades of Grey” advocates for sexual choices and sexual preferences and whether it permits abusive relationships.

“Lots of people think that the dominant has all of the power and uses the submissive as a play toy for his or her pleasure. In the book and movie, Christian tells Ana that she has full control due to the fact that she can say no,” said Chelsea Frick, a student who participated in the discussion.

Discussion participant Juliette Mogenson said she doesn’t think the book should be sold in the teen section of bookstores.

“Teens do not have the critical thinking skills about the situation and are impressionable. Because it’s a top-selling book and the movie makes sex seem cool and romantic, teens are getting involved in unsafe situations. The book and movie make it seem okay for women to be treated in such a way as Christian treats Ana,” Mogenson said.

Eliana Taylor said she thinks the book encourages women to make their own sexual choices.

“We don’t have a right to say whether or not these personal choices are wrong. Being submissive is different than being battered. Just because Ana was submissive in the bedroom doesn’t mean she submitted to Christian in public realms,” she said.

During the third round of the discussion, students discussed whether or not “Fifty Shades of Grey” normalizes abusive relationships.

“I fear that women will be exposed to this and think that its normal to be hit by their significant other, that they should like it. And I’m afraid that men will think to themselves that physical harm could be something new and exciting to try to liven up the bedroom,” participant Trevor Hardin said.

Taylor said she doesn’t think the movie normalizes abuse but instead puts a spotlight on BDSM culture. She also said that as the book progresses, the abuse becomes more minimal.

Makayla Miller argued that “even though Ana leaves Christian she ends up going back to him. This seems like a problem because it shows women that they can run back to the same unhealthy relationship.”

Miller went on to discuss the similarity between porn and “Fifty Shades of Grey.”

“Women who are disturbed by men watching porn are reading this book. It’s a double standard. We can’t be offended by men’s choices when we are essentially doing the same thing,” she said.