Children colorful painting drawing on the wall, child dreams, background texture

The Future of Feminist Art: An Open Call for Children’s Art

By: Shanelle Haile, PhD Student in the Department of Sociology and Grad Parent Coordinator at the Sarah Doyle Center

We are kicking off a new academic year of feminist parenting programming by inviting your children to submit works of art to the Sarah Doyle Center’s Radical Roots blog. Feminist art is often associated with the feminist movement of the 1960s and 70s, a movement that challenged male dominance, sought the recognition of women in society and questioned gender assumptions. Thus, artwork categorized as feminist often depicts images and concepts pertaining to gender in society. We welcome feminist art submissions that depict these images and concepts but also recognize that some of our little ones are only just learning how to hold a crayon. So we also invite “abstract art” submissions. Take a look at the short video linked here where my own toddler creates a doodle titled “Love”; doodling can be a great way for young children to express themselves during the early stages of their artistic development. Abstract art can also be a means for older children to create images that are unbound to gender or to gendered concepts. And the best thing about it is that no special tools are needed!

Submit your child’s work of art (whether feminist or abstract) by October 20th and be entered to win one of five art kits. Each art kit includes a book Women in Art: 50 Fearless Women Who Inspired the World and an art toolkit for doodling and drawing. All submissions will be digitized and added to the SDC blog/digital art gallery. Simply snap a photo of your child’s artwork and upload on this google form. We welcome artwork from children of all Brown University graduate and medical students, staff, faculty, and postdoc parents.

Be sure to check the SDC Blog for programming updates and to view your child’s featured artwork.

For an abstract art idea, take a look at the Dangerous Doodle instruction video linked HERE for an easy abstract art tutorial.

Image credit: Raimonds Kalva LV/Shutterstock.com

The Two-Pager Club

By: Nicole Sintentos, Claritza Maldonado, Jacquelynn Jones, Maggie Unverzagt Goddard, Kate Duffy, Doctoral Candidates in American Studies

Providence, RI

This time has changed the way that we gather and create.

In late May, Nicole Sintetos reached out to the other graduate students in the American Studies department with an invitation to participate in a writing club. Below is her email, rooted in a feminist praxis of collaboration and care.

To: American Studies Graduate Students

From: Nicole Sintetos

Thu, May 28, 2020 at 5:32 PM

Re: The Two Pager Writing Club

Hi All,

I have been struggling to write the last two months: perhaps it is the isolation that curbs one’s confidence, or just the general depletion of joy in the world, or the increasingly overt brokenness of this country,  but let me tell you the words are not flowing. And yet, the dissertation (or any pressing deadline for that matter) needs to get done.

I’m interested in starting an unorthodox writing club. The rules: everyone in attendance must upload two pages (not three! two!) of any type of writing by Monday at midnight. Truly, any type of writing, as long as it is fresh off the press. It can be a dissertation chapter fragment. A journal entry about one’s frustration writing a dissertation chapter fragment.  A series of incomplete stream-of-conscious ideas written at two in the morning after too much wine in which you are haunted by your incomplete dissertation chapter. A partial fields essay in which you fight with Foucault. A poem about your love for Foucault. A McSweeney’s List. Really, anything.

Then, on Tuesday, over lunch, we will each discuss our individual submissions (simply, one thing we are still struggling with and one thing that we think might be fruitful).  We must then isolate just a single sentence from our submitted writing that we think is worth keeping and read it aloud.The scale of the writing group is to celebrate kernels of ideas, not fully fledged essays, and to hold space for the joy of writing at the sentence level. We actually will not edit each other’s work: the uploading is simply to provide an accountability structure for ourselves, though others can read and offer global compliments. Lunch will not exceed an hour.

I have long-felt that graduate school should be seen as a team sport. The same holds true for writing. And, frankly, I miss the spaces of community where we can casually talk about ideas.

If interested in joining the Two Pager Writing Club please shoot me an email.

Nicole

In addition to gathering virtually each week, Nicole’s email prompted us to focus on both process and the creative work that we do beyond graduate school. Below, each member of the Two Pager Club shares a look into their creative lives and practices beyond our research and dissertation projects. We hold this space for each other to recognize and celebrate the life that we live within and beyond the academy. We encourage you to experiment with art supplies (broadly conceived) and think more about creative process rather than sheer productivity.

Collage image of rhubarb plants and fruit with image of a hand and record turntable.

Collage, Claritza Maldonado

Collage, like poetry, has taught me a lot about fragments, small pieces, and the many beautiful (and sometimes ugly) things that form from them. Most of the images I cut out for this collage are from different tourist magazines, food magazines, fashion magazines, and advertisement pages.

Photo of jeans with sunflowers painted on the back pockets. Yellow, orange, and brown paint bottles with paint brushes and painter palletlay next to the jeans.

Jean Art, Jacquelynn Jones

I started painting jeans because I wanted to use what I had to create something new. Painting this design, while using a new medium, has shown me that inspiration takes time and imagination needs space. It has also served as a needed reminder to slow down, to be patient, and to enjoy the process. 

Photo of an abstract watercolor drawing and art supplies.

Watercolors, Maggie Unverzagt Goddard

I’ve always wanted to understand different watercolor techniques, but I’ve also been intimidated. By playing with different materials, I’m trying to suspend my sense of judgment and allow myself to experiment—a kind of curiosity and acceptance that I try to bring to my writing too.

Photo of a red door within an old stone wall on a sunny day.

Photo, Kate Duffy

I walk around the neighborhood, taking time to notice, ponder, and appreciate the things I see.  This red door in an old stone wall has become a favorite point of interest. Since the pandemic began I’ve observed the vines grow thick with green leaves, then begin to fade again. On and on we go.

Photo credits: All images are by the creator named below the image.

Colorful confetti backdrop with the words "Announcing our Sarah Doyle Center Feminist Crossword Puzzle prize winners."

Announcing our Crossword Puzzle Challenge Winners!

By: Felicia Salinas-Moniz, Senior Assistant Director at the Sarah Doyle Center

Thank you to everyone who participated in our first feminist crossword puzzle challenge this year! Congratulations to the first 5 students who completed the puzzle correctly and won a “Radical Roots: Nourishing Feminist Work” tote bag prize filled with feminist swag.

Jose Celaya-Alcala
Sumera Subzwari
Juliana Katz
Katherine Clark
Olivia Howe

We had almost 50 people submit answers to this crossword puzzle challenge, so we’ve decided to release another crossword puzzle challenge in late-October. Stay tuned to the Radical Roots blog for when it goes live.

Our first crossword puzzle of the fall term is still online for those who haven’t had a chance to work on it yet. There is a node you can toggle called “show errors,” which will check your answers for accuracy. Additionally, the answer key can be found here when you’re finished and want to verify your answers.

If you were one of the students who submitted answers to the puzzle, we’d love to hear from you! Were there any questions, in particular, that stumped you? Did you learn something new about feminist history that you didn’t know? Please comment on this entry and share with us!

Radical Oral Histories

By: Amanda Knox, Assistant Archivist at the Pembroke Center for Teaching and Research on Women

Dispatching from an unusually cluttered dining room in Attleboro, MA

Photo of Amanda Knox capturing the oral history of Diane Straker, Administrative Assistant at the Pembroke Center, in January 2020. Both are seated at a table with shelves of file boxes behind them.
Photo of Amanda Knox collecting the oral history of Diane Straker, Administrative Assistant at the Pembroke Center, in January 2020. Photo taken by Martha Hamblett, Programs and Stewardship Coordinator at the Pembroke Center.

When the Pembroke Center Oral History Project began in 1982 it was a way for women to ensure their stories would become and remain part of Brown University’s historical record. At that time, oral histories were largely discredited as scholarly sources. For the most part, anybody can “do” oral history; you really only need a recording device and someone willing to share their story. It was radical for the alumnae to believe their stories were valuable. It was radical for the Pembroke Center Archives and the Brown University Libraries to add those stories to the collections and make them available for research. It was radical for the Pembroke Center to change the name of the project, formerly known as Brown Women Speak, in order to be more inclusive and steward stories from trans and non-binary members of the community. Today, it feels radical to continue our oral history work through the COVID-19 global pandemic and fight for racial justice.

To date, Mary Murphy, the Nancy L. Buc ’65 Pembroke Center Archivist, and I have collected over 40 interviews with students, staff, faculty, and alums, who have wanted to talk specifically about their experiences with the pandemic and subsequently about their experiences at the recent protests against racism and police violence. Over thirty of these interviews are currently on the Pembroke Center Oral History website, including interviews from Soyoon Kim ’19, Virginia Thomas ’20, and Sara Matthiesen ’15, all of whom have connections to the Sarah Doyle Center.

Soyoon thoughtfully discussed her work as a Program Coordinator for the Global Brown Center for International Students. She recalled a panel of health experts who initially were not concerned about the virus spreading out of Wuhan and she also recounted assisting international students with their transitions off campus. At the end of her interview, Soyoon said, “I myself, Soyoon Kim, feel very lucky and privileged and so grateful for the support, the network of support that I have at Brown, in my physical vicinity with my housemates, with my partner, and with family back home.” After her interview, I was left with these words and the reminder to recognize and appreciate the outstanding community I am also privileged to have.

To that end, Virginia Thomas addressed concerns about the trajectory of higher education and the strength and resilience of the students in her “Queering Oral History” course. We had a wonderful conversation about interviewer-interviewee dynamics, the ways in which socially distanced interviews can impact the story an interviewee shares, and the power of capturing LGBTQ history through individuals’ stories. When I asked her what she would want listeners to know tomorrow and 50 years from now, she said she wants them to know they’re not alone. Members of the LGBTQ+ community can often feel alone and isolated on the best of days. Under today’s circumstances, these feelings can be and are exacerbated. Virginia reminded me to think beyond myself and my own feelings, to reach out to friends and those acquaintances who were about to be friends before we all had to part, in order to do my part to reduce suffering. 

Additionally, Sara spoke about her experiences as a professor and as an activist during this time. She commented on protests she participated in, media coverage of the pandemic, states’ legislation on access to reproductive healthcare, and rights and resources for essential workers. She emphasized that “every political effort and social movement was fighting for a thing that seemed impossible until it wasn’t.” This is another statement I have not been able to forget since interviewing Sara at the beginning of May. Making it through this pandemic may seem impossible, but one day it will just be something that we all did. At one point, it seemed impossible for oral histories, particularly those from women, trans, and non-binary people, to be recognized as legitimate records. Today it is my charge to actively collect them and make them available, in part because they are in such high demand.

Over the course of my time at the Pembroke Center I have listened to well over 200 interviews. Many, like Soyoon’s, Virginia’s, and Sara’s, have left a lasting impact on my heart and my mind. My hope is that you, too, will listen to these stories from members of your community, find inspiration from them, and know that your use of them is a radical act.   

crossword puzzle image with "Sarah Doyle Center Feminist Crossword Puzzle Challenge Fall 2020" in the center

Sarah Doyle Center Feminist Crossword Puzzle Challenge (Fall 2020)

By: Felicia Salinas-Moniz, Senior Assistant Director at the Sarah Doyle Center

With fall semester upon us and asynchronous community building still at the fore, the Sarah Doyle Center is opening our Fall term with another crossword puzzle challenge! Test your knowledge of feminist history and see how many questions you can answer without doing a search online. But online searches are okay when you come across questions that you don’t know. When that happens, take a moment to explore more about the answer you find — you’ll likely come up with further questions and queries for research!

We invite anyone to participate. However, prizes are only open to Brown University students at this time. The first 5 Brown students who correctly solve the puzzle will win a “Radical Roots: Nourishing Feminist Work” tote bag filled with the following: a copy of How We Get Free: Black Feminism and the Combahee River Collective, edited by Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor, a Daily Undated Passion Planner (with planner stickers), a set of colorful gel pens, and some Sarah Doyle Center pens. The names of the 5 winners, along with the crossword puzzle answer key, will be posted on the Radical Roots blog at the end of the 2-week quiet period on 9/15. The Sarah Doyle Center will mail prizes to the select 5 winners of this puzzle.

Special thanks to the Pembroke Center for Teaching and Research on Women for co-sponsoring this crossword puzzle challenge. Mary Murphy and Amanda Knox, archivists at Pembroke, contributed the questions specific to gender history at Brown. HINT: You may need to listen to a few Brown alumnae oral histories to answer some of the puzzle questions. We’d also like to give a special shout out to Amy Chin and Shanelle Haile, our fabulous SDC graduate student coordinators, for contributing questions to this puzzle, too.

HOW TO PLAY: 

You can complete the puzzle online at the following link: https://crosswordhobbyist.com/827878/Sarah-Doyle-Center-Feminist-Crossword-Puzzle-Challenge-Fall-2020

When you are finished, click the “Submit Answers” button on the left (or the triangle on the left, if using a mobile device) and enter your name and Brown email address. The puzzle is best visible on a computer. (NOTE: you do NOT need to create an account on the crossword puzzle site to play).

Happy feminist crossword puzzling!

A diversity of multi-hued hands (some with painted finger nails) on a white background with fists in the air, as a symbol of resistance.

Representation for Reclamation: An Introductory Resource List for Decommercializing and Reclaiming Feminism

By: Jordan Allums ’21, Sarah Doyle Center Co-Curricular Development Summer Intern and senior studying Political Science

Point Richmond, CA

Dear readers, 

My name is Jordan Allums and I am a senior at Brown studying political science. This summer, I worked with the Sarah Doyle Center as the Co-Curricular Development intern to curate a list of resources to serve their programming around gender and feminism. I did this work in tandem with Elon and Ope, the two Digital Communications interns, and drew a lot of inspiration from their themed social media content. At the beginning of the internship, I planned to focus on Black feminist theory, but as I got deeper into my research I felt a need to highlight a diversity of topics to address some urgent needs I observed in our current moment. Namely, I decided to focus on self-care, affirming trans women, and uplifting dark-skinned Black women. These nuanced approaches to my work allowed me to expand this list beyond simply defining or diagnosing certain issues, but rather deconstruct and reframe the ways we understand them. I envision this list being used to critically analyze mainstream feminism, note where it’s lacking, and hopefully present a better way forward. 

I want to be transparent about my identity and how that may have influenced this list. I am a light-skinned, cis-heterosexual, middle-class,  able-bodied Black woman. Being that I am discussing identities that I myself do not claim, I accept responsibility for any biases or holes in the content of this list that you might observe. These are not a sign of willful neglect, but rather my limited capacity to know and address all of the concerns of these communities. Moreover, the specification of trans women and dark-skinned Black women is not intended to ignore the myriad marginalized identities that exist. Rather, I felt that these communities were particularly in need of support in our current social climate. Trans women are frequently left in the shadows, only to be pushed into the media spotlight when they are brutalized. Dark-skinned Black women face disproportionate neglect and disrespect compared to their lighter-skinned counterparts. These two issues have been especially salient in the last couple of months as racial tensions around the world have exposed which narratives and lives are centered in the movement and which are left in the margins. 

I also want to make a note about the intended audience of some of these resources. You may notice that just because an article or book is written about someone, it is not necessarily directed at them. Many, but not all, of these resources are meant to educate people outside of a certain community in order to foster greater empathy and understanding. For people who identify with those communities, the same resources may read as redundant or “preaching to the choir.” For those readers, I hope you find value in the other resources in this list or that it at least prompts you to look for outside resources that can help you better than I can. 

Finally, this work was completed during a 4-week internship. Naturally, I had to set realistic expectations about what I could accomplish in such a short time. Therefore, I relied on reviews, recommendations, and summaries to vet whole books. I cannot give my stamp of approval on the entire contents of any given book, nor should readers assume that my judgment is objectively correct. Readers are instead strongly encouraged to engage their critical thinking skills while absorbing the information in these books. Please also note that this list is by no means exhaustive; it is a stepping stone in the life-long journey of educating oneself on these topics. On a similar note, this list is intentionally structured in a way to allow you to pace yourself and avoid content overload. Feel free to ease into the material with the web articles listed first, and then when you have the bandwidth you may do a deep dive into the topics using the full-length books listed afterwards. 

Thank you for taking the time to browse this list, and I genuinely hope that it has an impact on you, big or small. Be sure to follow @sarahdoylecenter on Instagram to continue exploring issues around gender and feminism. 

Be well, 

Jordan Allums ‘21 

You can view “Representation for Reclamation: An Introductory Resource List for Decommercializing and Reclaiming Feminism” at this link.

Image credit: elladoro/Shutterstock.com

An Offering of Fortitude, with Consuelo Jimenez Underwood

By: Teresa Conchas ‘22, Sarah Doyle Center Student Program Coordinator 

My antique dining room table in hot and sticky San Antonio, TX

Consuelo Jimenez Underwood is a bright soul who sings to the world with welcoming arms. In her early seventies, she beams with an optimistic and enthusiastic energy that is especially touching these days. Each time I experience the treasure of being in her presence, I notice a change in my body and mind — my shoulders relax and my words flow out with ease. Consuelo has a gift for opening, and it comes to her so naturally. 

As many of you in our Sarah Doyle community may recall, Consuelo visited Brown this past fall on a week-long artist residency, during which she collaborated with a group of undergraduates to create Exposing Unseen Boundaries, the most recent installment in her “Borderlines” series. The exhibition showcased a combination of new and old works: the “Brown-Violet Borderline,” “Apocalyptic Rain Song,” a hand-woven barbed-wire basket and tapestry, and photographs documenting a performance along the borderlands. Her artwork reaches deeply into the dynamic political and ecological forces emerging from the U.S.-Mexico border, and sifts through these complex entanglements with bold strokes of color and texture. 

I was fortunate to spend a couple hours chatting with her one afternoon in mid-April. Below you will find some personal reflections and meditations in response to our conversation together. Moreover, I had the opportunity to help out with elements of the Exposing Unseen Boundaries exhibition; included are images of the “power wand” I created (first photo) and the “soil blessings” I arranged (third photo) for its two main wall installations. 

On Solitude

As a fellow textile artist myself, I am all too familiar with the labor-intensive and social distancing aspects that accompany the art-making process. And while I find comfort in the company of my needle and thread and the repetitive motions of embroidering in and out and weaving over and under, every now and then I feel as though asking us to commit our whole selves as artists to the work is too much of a demanding sacrifice — the piling hours of isolation and concentration can become unbearable at times. Thus, when I look upon Consuelo’s beautiful and intricate weavings and paintings, I am filled with wonder and appreciation in reverence to her ability to inhabit this liminal space, carving it out as a universe of her own and transforming it into one of truth, liberation, and imagination. 

When I inquired into her experiences with solitude, she addressed it with a warmth reserved for old friends, referencing Emily Dickinson’s perspective on “solitude of space.” For her, this solitude of “a soul admitted to itself” is long-term, and she is intimately acquainted with its sacred possibility, urging us to presently “do something with it,” to share and create in it. 

Her words on solitude particularly resonate with our moment, as we learn to navigate the difficult and lonely waters of our newly-imposed social guidelines. In our state of quarantine, how can we learn from solitude, find grounding in it, and most importantly, care for ourselves and our loved ones amidst it? I am convinced that art has a vital role in addressing these big questions, in helping us process and understand the new world we are confronted with. Art is healing and unifying, and we should embrace creative practices as a vessel for learning to live with ourselves and our thoughts during this period of remaking and adjustment. Though she is “sad that it’s happening so harshly,” if we have the time and energy, Consuelo asks us to pause and rest, to listen and reflect (inwardly and outwardly) in the silence of our solitude. It will be challenging — approach it with an abundance of patience and tenderness for yourself — but I am excited for the learning, discovering, and imagining that will come of it. 

On Borders

While this is a time engulfed in fear and uncertainty that has exacerbated division and inequality in previously unrecognized ways, Consuelo insists that we resist growing and expanding borders and boundaries — which can be a particularly troubling task when we are required to remain six feet apart. We concluded that borders have reached a new extreme, as we carry them with us on our own person now, “like you’re wearing them.” Several weeks later, this statement still haunts me, its implications becoming further real with each passing day. 

However, rather than dwell in this fracturing, I am choosing to think about borders in the counter-context of inhabiting a shared world through strengthening ethics of connection and care and deepening meanings of community. Nowadays I find myself being more purposeful about acknowledging and cherishing living presences of all sorts — whether that’s greeting neighbors I hadn’t spoken to in years along my daily bike rides or tuning into the birds happily chirping from my front porch — gestures that had long gone neglected and taken for granted. Our restorative solitude has allowed us to “get to know ourselves in order to better understand others,” making our points of connection that much more intentional, enriching, and precious. 

On Hope and Art Futures

Consuelo also emphasized our collective human resiliency, expressing that “we can sustain anything” while we firmly hold onto hope and resist the defeat of despair. Although we are enduring immense pain and devastation, she considers our current moment a call to shift and improve, for “when there’s chaos, it’s a time to change the world a little bit.” A profound structural change is long-due, and it is up to us to accountably fight for it — we owe this to ourselves and the loved ones we have lost. Equipped with a renewed vision of justice and the might to see it through, we will mend and repair the fabric of our humanity in radical ways. 

She assures us that the arts aren’t going anywhere, and that their power to build consciousness and uplift communities is more important now than ever. Anticipating a return “back to the hand” and the rise of guerilla art activity in a public reclamation of art that is accessible and relevant, she views this as a positive reinstatement of the arts as being for and belonging to everyone, the “big empty gallery and museum spaces were getting to be too stuffy for their own good” anyway. And though the arts are the first to be cut from budgets, we will keep them alive and flourishing with our creative resourcefulness. So dream tremendously about the world you want to live in and then take part in actively creating it with your pen, brush, guitar, voice, body, etc. 

Consuelo believes in the promise of young people with her whole heart and spirit. Her confidence in this next generation’s potentiality to sew the tears and scraps of our broken society together bestows dually upon us inspiration and commitment. We will continue to make movement, breathe, survive — and surely do good too. 

For those who missed our series of events featuring artist Consuelo Jimenez Underwood, included are links to the artworks she created and the talk she gave while on campus in October:

High-resolution photos of the Exposing Unseen Boundaries exhibition available at this link: https://brown.widencollective.com/c/pv5fm3af  

For more information about the artist and her collection of works/exhibitions, visit her website at http://www.consuelojunderwood.com/

Image credits: Photography by Nicholas W Dentamaro/Brown University

Illustration of hands holding a gaming controller with pink and yellow cords coming out of the top and connected to 2 wireless symbols (one green and one red).

Gaming While Girl

By: Elisia Lopez, Junior studying Literary Arts and Anthropology, Special Projects Coordinator at the LGBTQ Center

Since coming back home, one of the ways I’ve been distracting myself from all this stress has been by playing video games. It wasn’t until pretty recently that I had actually started playing them semi-regularly. Before now, before I found a group of supportive friends who encouraged me to start gaming, it wasn’t really something I super felt comfortable doing or even something I was supposed to do. And, to be honest, a huge influence on my relationship with video games has been the fact that I’m not a dude.

Despite the fact that about half of self-identified gamers are women, there is still a lot of stigma around “gamer girls” and a general lack of confidence in women’s gaming abilities. And, while anyone should be able to enjoy a game without concern for how well they do or not, there is still a degree of discomfort when it comes to playing video games, especially if you’re not amazing at it, and even more so if you’re playing alongside or against people who are much more skilled than you.

One thing I’ve been realizing is that sometimes this discomfort is internal, sometimes it’s external.

I remember the first time I was ever introduced to Super Smash Bros, which is basically a culmination of every Nintendo character I didn’t know beating each other up…for some reason. I was probably around ten or so, and I was at a friend’s birthday party when they busted out the Wii. I had been pretty excited to learn how to play this new game that everyone swore up and down was so fun. When all the characters showed up on the screen and we finally got to play, I slowly went from being totally psyched to just bummed out. I remember asking how to play and just not having any of my questions answered. I was feeling tense and–for lack of a better word–shitty because I had no idea what to do. I couldn’t last more than a minute, so I eventually bailed.

And yeah, I know, we were ten. Around ten. I’m not trying to bash on what people did when we were kids because, you know, we were kids. But this is just one of the earlier instances of an ongoing pattern. The same thing happened when I first played Mario Kart. The same thing happened when my cousins tried to get me to play Assassin’s Creed. When this kind of thing keeps happening over and over and over, it becomes something that eventually stops you from wanting to play.

A lot of it had to do with people thinking I just couldn’t be good because I was a girl. Yeah, I wasn’t good, but that had nothing to do with my gender. I just wasn’t socialized to play video games, so I didn’t. It becomes this self-fulfilling prophecy, where girls can’t be gamers because that’s a “boy’s thing,” so girls aren’t really encouraged to game, then when they do of course they’re not as good at it. And sometimes, you start passing up on playing because you know you’re no good, or you don’t have the energy to get made fun of.

In my case, I just stayed away from playing video games entirely.

Of course, that’s not everyone’s experience. But I’ve been in enough friend groups where men patronize women about how badly they’re playing that they just decide to not even try and say they’re just okay with watching. 

It wasn’t until college that I started to let myself play video games, despite how far I am from being good. Being someone who is into creative writing, a lot of the video games that appealed to me did so because of the way that they engage with stories and lore differently than books, movies, or TV, like running around in a fantasy world and defeating evil in Legend of Zelda, trying to figure out my way home from the Underground in Undertale, and just messing around in the futuristic world of Overwatch. And once I had gotten into them and understood the gameplay, I actually began to enjoy playing them–and get better at them, as practice tends to do.

Don’t get me wrong, I still get super nervous and self-conscious when I’m playing video games. Sometimes I get the overwhelming urge to stop because I don’t think I’m good enough. Sometimes I get so nervous about it that I try to preemptively explain away why I’m so bad. Sometimes I even stop playing something when someone else walks into the room. But that’s only sometimes.

Being able to game with non-cishet men and without dealing with weird gatekeeper gaming complexes has done a lot in teaching me that I am allowed to suck and still have fun at the same time. Right now I’ve logged an embarrassing amount of hours on Overwatch with my friend, and I’m able to laugh at myself when I mess up but also recognize how much better I’ve gotten at it. That’s something I wouldn’t have seen myself doing a couple of years ago.

It might not seem that deep because it’s honestly just video games. But the fact that I have been able to get to the point of enjoying something I hadn’t felt good enough to even try just because of my gender has got me feeling pretty great.

Footnote (some games, game designers, and gamers that subvert gendered expectations in video games)

  • Undertale – Features a protagonist who is referred to using they/them pronouns throughout the game. The game diverts from uber-violent expectations in video games and focuses on solving problems peacefully and with care.
  • Night in the Woods – Features a queer woman protagonist and explores her mental health and relationship with her hometown and her past.
  • Life Is Strange – A game that follows a lesbian in high school with time-altering powers. The game includes potentially triggering content.
  • Tell Me Why – The first video game from a major developer with a playable trans character, also voiced by a trans man. (I haven’t played this game, so I can’t speak to the quality of it)
  • Roberta Williams – A self-taught woman game designer who revolutionized graphic game design.
  • Anna Anthropy – A trans woman game designer who makes digital games, interactive fiction, and zines.
  • Aisha Tyler – A WoC gamer who is very vocal about sexism and racism within the gaming community.
  • Here’s a link to a list of trans game developers from 2018–check it out!
  • And here’s a link to another article with influential women in gaming.

Image credit: Sara Montoya ’21, Graphic Design and Publicity Coordinator at the LGBTQ Center

Image of the Sarah Doyle Center crossword puzzle.

Sarah Doyle Center Crossword Puzzle Challenge

By: Jennifer Katz ’20 and Katherine Sang ’21, Student Coordinators at the Sarah Doyle Center

Complete our SDC themed crossword puzzle for a chance to win this year’s Women’s History Month tote bag! Hint: Take a look at our SDC website for clues! Click here to download a pdf version of the crossword puzzle.

Please either attach an image of your completed puzzle or list all 21 words at this google form: https://forms.gle/NG9KRnpJVGkNUUKv6

The winners will be the first two people to submit all 21 correct word selections. Keep an eye out for an announcement on this blog post with the names of the two winners. Good luck 🙂

UPDATE 5.12.20: Congratulations to Melinda Li and Cristina Taylor, who were the first 2 people who correctly solved the puzzle! The answer key to the puzzle will be made available on May 18th.

UPDATE 5.19.20: Sorry, we were a day late with the answers! You can access the answer key to the SDC crossword puzzle at this link.

Image credit: Crossword questions by Jennifer Katz, puzzle and tote bag design by Katherine Sang