Concurrent Sessions – 2023 Conference

Concurrent Session 1 - Thursday, April 13, 9:00am - 9:45 am CST

Transgender Athletic Participation: A Systematic Literature and Policy Review   

The concept of “care” not often centers trans people within the discourse of participation in athletics. Though the topic of trans participation in athletics has become an acute political topic in recent years, our research pushes past the polarization of this debate and examines the existing empirical evidence relating to trans care, inclusion, and justice in athletics.

We will discuss through a critical lens the cisheterocentric nature of state laws and association policies concerning trans participation in athletics. We will contrast this with the findings of empirical academic research, which suggests that equal opportunity and inclusion in athletics is not only a protective factor for the mental and physical health of trans individuals but presents an important form of “sustaining hope” within the community of trans youth.

Care and justice critically interact when considering youth participation in athletics. While the emergence of anti-trans policies is a broad form of trans antagonism, the ability to participate in athletics is a form of connection to community and care. Centering trans youth while drawing comparisons between empirical research and policy promotes the development of shared responsibility toward care.    

Susan Maloney (she/her), Research Specialist, Department of Educational Leadership and Policy Analysis (ELPA), University of Wisconsin – Madison School of Education
Benjamin Lebovitz (he/they), Graduate Student (Ph.D.), Department of Educational Leadership and Policy Analysis (ELPA), University of Wisconsin – Madison School of Education
Mofan Yang (she/her), Graduate Student (Masters), Department of Educational Leadership and Policy Analysis (ELPA), University of Wisconsin – Madison School of Education

Forging a Climate Justice Approach for Archives and Digital Collections  

The global climate crisis has brought intersectional issues into conversation and driven scholars to research through a climate justice lens that sheds light on the disproportionate impacts on marginalized communities. With scholars relying heavily on archives and digital collections to discover materials, libraries are beginning the labor-intensive process of rethinking their approaches to metadata, including subjects and keywords, along with their approaches to processing and collection development. Simultaneously, institutions are facing challenges from increasing extreme weather events posing threats to physical storage. Expanding digital collections, and a general reluctance to weed them, will have a compounding impact on the exponentially increasing carbon footprint of big data storage. This panel will explore how archives and digital collections can use climate justice as a grounding point to rethink how academic libraries approach their missions to provide resources and instructional support by engaging with critical approaches, ecofeminism, queer ecology, conscious editing, reparative metadata, and digital feminist pedagogies in the collection, presentation, and preservation of primary sources and data.   

Amanda Boczar (she/her), Curator – Digital Collections, Special Collections – Library, University of South Florida
Sydney Jordan (she/her), Coordinator for LGBTQ+ Studies Collections, University of South Florida
Dahlia Thomas (she/they), Collections Specialist for Oral History, University of South Florida

Community Writing: Empowering Women’s Voices through Collaborative In-class Writing

In this presentation, we will discuss the benefits of community writing as a form of feminist pedagogy. According to Dr. Janet McCabe, men speak anywhere from 1.6 to 3 times more than women in college classrooms. When women speak up, McCabe describes them as “more hesitant” and “apt to use more apologetic language.” Despite striving to create a community in which all of our students feel comfortable, we often notice a lack of participation amongst our women students. As writing instructors, we confront this phenomenon by engaging our classes in low-stakes community writing. Specifically, we use digital tools to create a collaborative writing space that allows us to scaffold the writing process. In doing so, we establish a safe working space that centers female voices through writing. As students become more comfortable asserting themselves in the digital space, they become more vocal in the physical classroom. We will outline our process for collaborative writing and the steps we take to ensure women are engaged, providing artifacts from our classes as examples. With this presentation, we aim to foster a discussion about the various ways in which writing can be used across disciplines to empower women’s voices in the classroom.   

Jessie Wirkus Haynes (she/her), Assistant Professor, English, Bellin College
Jackielee Derks (she/her), Teaching Assistant Professor, Marquette University

Teaching without Fear? Engaged Pedagogy in the Classroom     

The ongoing pandemic cast into relief the importance of affective and engaged pedagogy. As a feminist teacher, I always encourage students to challenge hierarchies between body/mind, private/public, passion/intellect. I ask them to understand their “education as an explicit political project” and to see the classroom as a “location of possibility,” particularly in the face of neoliberal logics (Alexander 2005; hooks 1994). However, I question the “mainstreaming” of “care” pedagogy. In this presentation, I discuss 1) how educational institutions appropriate affective pedagogy, 2) students’ reactions to passionate pedagogy, and 3) how we practice feminist pedagogy with vulnerability and without fear.    

Shahin Kachwala (
she/her), Assistant Professor, Women’s & Gender Studies, SUNY Oneonta 

Concurrent Session 2 - Thursday, April 13, 11:45 am -1:00 pm CST

Dismantling Bias in Academic Writing, Reading, and Research: A Librarian’s Approach in Integrating Inclusive Language Practices   

This talk focuses on how librarians can apply inclusive language practices when teaching academic writing, reading, and research skills. The inherent nature of these academic skills has been concentrated on a particular dominant white male lens. By centering on specific approaches such as gender-neutral phrases, inclusive pronouns, and gender assumptions, the presentation highlights how learners can acknowledge and address their own biases as well as biases that exist in academia, research databases, and the discourse of academic reading and writing. Teaching and applying an intersectional feminist lens in academic reading, writing, and research uplift the voices and scholarships of women of color, people of color, and other marginalized groups and is part of the process of dismantling inequity and exclusion in and outside of the classroom.       

Raymond Pun (he/him), Academic and Research Librarian, Alder Graduate School of Education

Writing Hope Workshop: Philosophical Counseling & Speculative Futures

Participants in this workshop will be invited to explore their own fears, hopes, and dreams for the future. The co-presenters, both teachers and scholars who employ feminist, anti-racist, decolonial, and anti-colonial pedagogical practices in the classroom, will invite participants to engage in the essential and fulfilling work of visioning the future. Workshop participants may wish to replicate the process in their own classrooms.

Lisa King, an Associate Professor of Philosophy at Edgewood College and a certified Philosophical Counselor, will lay the foundation for participants to think about how they understand themselves in relation to power and futurity through Hannah Arendt’s notions of natality and power as collective action. 

Lauren Lacey, an Associate Professor of English at Edgewood College and writer and scholar of speculative fiction, will walk participants through a writing process designed to help them create an example of what Walidah Imarisha calls “visionary fiction.” The writing may turn out to be the seeds for a poem or story or essay, or it may simply be the means through which participants can more clearly imagine a future they desire. 

Lauren Lacey (she/her or they/them), Associate Professor, English, Edgewood College
Lisa King (she/her or they/them), Associate Professor, Philosophy, Edgewood College

“I love Brazilian Women”: An Autoethnography of the Sexualization and Racialization of Brazilian Women in the U.S. Context    

Through an autoethnography that places my own self within the social context, this paper explores the ways in which the Brazilian women’s body is hyper-sexualized in the United States and how language has a central role in this process. Thus, I explore the image of eroticized beauty and its damaging consequences through my own experiences in U.S. higher education. I ask how these narratives came to be, how they persist to this day, and how they have shaped my experiences. I use autoethnography as a method to embrace the role of the researcher in the research process and connect it to larger socio-political issues. In this research, I provide an account of how Brazilian women, and Latina women more broadly, negotiate these representations living abroad.   

Luisa Turbino Torres (she/they); Assistant Professor; Center for Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies and Department of Political Science; Florida Atlantic University

Narratives of Invisibility for Asian American Women Graduate Students in Applied Psychology Training Programs: Recommendations from a Systemic Literature Review for Disruption and Inclusion    

This presentation addresses the call for context-based perspectives in program and training as well as attention to the gendered racism experiences of Asian American women students (Mukkamala & Suyemoto, 2018). We discuss pedagogical and andragogical practices that challenge white supremacist cisheteropatriarchal colonial norms for Asian American women that permeate and shape their learning, living, and training experiences (Truong & Museus, 2016). With the rise of racialized acts of hate and bias (Weismann, 2020) and the insidious process of gendered racism (Mukkamala & Suyemoto, 2018), Asian American women experience 2.3 times more incidents than their men counterparts across all contexts, including university settings (Jeung et al., 2021). In particular, Asian American women experience epistemic or institutional academic violence and the silencing and ongoing dismissal of local or culture-based knowledge (Cueva, 2014). Recommendations are provided for programs to disrupt white supremacy pedagogy, intervene in multiple contexts of training, and increase accountability in managing critical incidences to better support Asian American women graduate students in applied mental health psychology programs.     

Tracy C. Guan, MS (she/her/hers), Graduate Student, Counseling Psychology, University of Wisconsin – Madison
Alberta M. Gloria, Ph.D. (ella/she/her/hers), Professor of Counseling Psychology, University of Wisconsin – Madison

South Asian Immigrant Experiences with Intimate Partner Violence   

South Asian immigrant people of color and their experiences with intimate partner violence (IPV) have been understudied. More specifically, there has been limited research conducted regarding the cultural experiences of South Asian immigrants who experience IPV and their help-seeking behavior. This study involved interviews with South Asian immigrant survivors of IPV currently seeking services from IPV-specific organizations. These 90-minute semi-structured interviews were conducted by a first-generation bilingual Southeast Asian woman. The interviews were conducted to examine cultural norms, patterns, and factors associated with the experience of IPV as well as help-seeking behavior for IPV incidents. Inclusion criteria include ethnically South Asian and having experienced IPV in the past two years. Adopting a socioecological systems framework, the interviews will examine whether gender norms are associated with patterns of abuse within familial systems. Additionally, the study examines the reasons survivors sought services and what they hope for from the services.  Findings from this study are expected to contribute to a deeper understanding of processes of deconstructing patterns of abuse within immigrant populations.   

Roli Sharma (she/her), Graduate Student, College of Education, Counseling Psychology Department, University of Wisconsin – Madison  

Cultivating Spaces of Freedom within Oppressive Institutions     

What does it look and feel like in one’s body to engage in social justice work alongside those younger than ourselves? How do we invite our somatic experiences, or our bodies’ knowledge, to inform and guide us through this work? This talk centers on the changing work of CU Boulder’s youth-led civic engagement program, Public Achievement Program, guided by its first woman and femme of color and a Black woman Director and Instructor, Soraya Latiff, that engages healing justice and community-care practices at the root of a year-long curriculum that prepares university undergraduates of color to guide teams of middle and high school students of color in community organizing and community healing research and action projects on topics such as racism, immigration, climate justice, ethnic studies, mental health, and LGBTQIA+ issues. These are spaces within a predominantly white higher education system and in a predominantly white school district where a majority of students of color convene to organize and, for the first time this year, integrate healing work and building on Indigenous wisdom to center community care and storytelling as part of students’ transformative resistance.    

Soraya Latiff (she/her/hers), Director and Instructor of Public Achievement, School of Education, Center for Community Based Research and Learning, University of Colorado – Boulder  

#CleanseYourBody: Intersections of Social Media, Ableism, and COVID-19    

The COVID-19 pandemic threw into stark relief the stigmas and biases ill and disabled individuals face. Insinuations that “only” ill and disabled folks suffer severe complications from the virus reflect eugenicist ideals and ignore the reality of SARS-COV-2. Furthermore, medical rhetoric often implies that disabled lives are less valuable and perpetuates hierarchies of human value that are based on narrow understandings of wellness/impairment. This paper contributes to exigent conversations about disability and wellness under capitalism and challenges the dominant perspective, which both overlooks disability and ignores the social and political-relational models in favor of the medical model. I examine how social media perpetuates dangerous narratives around health/wellness and how those narratives have affected the disability community throughout the pandemic, focusing on the commodification of wellness culture and the proliferation of neoliberal, white supremacist, ableist, and patriarchal ideals embedded in “wellness” rhetoric.  

Elizabeth Forsythe (she/they); Graduate Student; English, Rhetoric & Composition; Washington State University

Black Rage: Building Capacity for Black Mad Liberation    

This presentation will provide a brief history of the construction of disability, including the medicalization and criminalization of Blackness. From drapetomania to resisting arrest, I will share my theories on what may come next. This presentation will return to a historical example focusing on the American Psychiatric Association update of the DSM-II in 1968, correlating with increasing riots and displays of Black rage across the United States and how history is inevitably doomed to be repeated during the COVID-19 pandemic, mass death and disability, and the addition of prolonged grief disorder to the DSM-5. The second half of this presentation focuses on my lived experience as a Black mad person, organizing in abolition and disability justice movement spaces. I introduce “neuroexpansive,” a term I coined earlier this year, introducing another framework specifically for Black people beyond disability justice theory and exploring what autonomous organizing and relationship building looks like as we continue to be the most deeply impacted by multiple crises. I close with what I have observed thus far in social justice movements: co-optation efforts of disability justice and what must be done if we are to continue pushing for disability justice in movement spaces.    

Ngozi Alston (they/she), Organizer, Independent Researcher

Neuroqueer Articulations: Identity and Experience at the Intersection of Neurodivergence and Queerness

Norms about our neurology (neuronormativity) and norms about gender and orientation (cisheteronormativity) are deeply intertwined. “Neuroqueer” is the practice of challenging both these norms simultaneously and can also serve as a descriptor for individuals who are both queer and neurodivergent (those who “diverge from dominant cultural standards of neurocognitive functioning” (Walker)). This research contributes to the blossoming of scholarly and community dialogue about neuroqueer theory and practice. Drawing on feminist and neuroqueer theories and methods, I explore the experiences of self-identified queer/LGBTQ+ and neurodivergent folks through interviews, artwork and creative writing, and autistic autoethnography (often referred to as autistethnography). I ask, how do neurodivergent queer folks understand and express their experiences at this intersection? What language, labels, and identities do they claim or reject? How do they negotiate cisheterosexual and neurological norms simultaneously? How can this illuminate transformative directions for neuroqueer theory, practice, and coalition-building?

Samantha Moore (she/her), Graduate Student, Women’s and Gender Studies, University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee

Radical Women Self-Portraitists: An Intersectional Exploration of the Poetic Form   

This presentation discusses my efforts and how to create a more holistic short course that accounts for and illuminates women self-portraitists’ lived experiences. Our rampant selfie-taking moment showcases what American poetry has expressed for centuries: a national impulse for self-portraiture. Gertrude Stein, for example, played with self-portraiture in her Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas, considered one of the 20th century’s greatest English language nonfiction books. A powerful self-portrait is a work of exploration, an act of making. This presentation discusses several poems whose wit, vigor, suffering, and anger are not merely reflected but enacted every time the poem is read. They seem to document and reclaim the artist’s voice, space, and self. The presentation was inspired by discussions generated in an undergrad women’s literature course, “Radical Women Writers,” in which students were introduced to Kimberle Crenshaw’s theory of intersectionality.  Throughout the semester, students tended to focus on the intersections of gender and race, overlooking other significant social identities such as age, class, ability, religion, etc. Thus, the focus here is upon those identities, and in particular, the presenter’s own invisible disability as she navigated teaching during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Laura Sweeney (she/her/hers), Instructor of Record and Teaching Artist, English, Illinois State University 

Concurrent Session 3 - Thursday, April 13, 1:30 pm - 2:30 pm CST

Inclusive, Critical, Feminist, and Futuristic Education about Robots, Autonomous Vehicles, and Artificial Intelligence    

As robots, autonomous vehicles, and other artificial intelligence (AI) entities become bigger factors in developed and developing nations, individuals are faced with serious safety, bias, and well-being concerns in settings increasingly controlled by intelligent technologies. The problems involved are often framed as purely technical matters; however, the social and psychological dimensions of these concerns are often revealed using feminist and critical approaches. This presentation proposes ways that these issues can be introduced to students, workers, and community participants to expand the voices being expressed on these matters. For example, robotics are reframing certain kinds of employment, and the diverse voices of those involved should be heard in whether and how changes take place. Reflection on questions about the biases and stereotypes that AI can reinforce can also aid in enlightening students about the social impacts of high technology. My recent book, Good Robot, Bad Robot: Dark and Creepy Sides of Robotics, Autonomous Vehicles, and AI (Oravec, Palgrave Macmillan, 2022), attempts to outline these issues for students as well as technological developers.

Jo Ann Oravec (she/her), Professor, Information Technology and Supply Chain Management, University of Wisconsin – Whitewater

Digital Rage in #MeToo: Activist Spaces in Malayalam Cyberspace    

Examining manifestations of digital rage that accompanied #MeToo allegations on social media platforms, this paper locates the activist work of the Facebook group “Women Against Sexual Harassment” and their efforts to support survivors to reveal their testimonies anonymously. I explore contestations around a #MeToo allegation involving a prominent producer in the Malayalam film industry, where the identity of the complainant was outed on Facebook Live to instigate attacks against her. I interrogate how the language of men’s rights becomes part of the backlash against #MeToo, and how alliances emerge from the recasting of the alleged perpetrator as the victim figure.

Darshana Sreedhar Mini (she/them), Assistant Professor, Communication Arts, University of Wisconsin – Madison

The “Postcard Project” – Online Students Bring Feminism to Their Local Communities

Women and Gender Studies can be challenging to teach in an asynchronous modality for various reasons, but an asynchronous format does offer some benefits that a seated modality does not, such as the fact that students are located in various local communities. I paired this information with a line from bell hooks’ Feminism Is for Everybody text. She explained, “I just felt that somehow the movement had failed if we could not communicate feminist politics to everyone. I would often say that we needed to go door to door to share feminist thinking (that never happened).”

This talk will focus on my students’ efforts to expand upon hooks’ suggestion that we share feminism with others. To inform others in their local communities about feminism, the students designed postcards that they printed and placed in various locations throughout their towns/cities, turning their local communities into spaces for refusing patriarchy. Examples of the students’ postcards, areas of placement, and main takeaways/learning will be discussed.

Mackenzie Krzmarzick (she/her); Lecturer;  English, Philosophy, and Communication Studies; University of Wisconsin – Stout  

The Radical Knitting Club and Public Pedagogy    

Critical feminist pedagogy encourages us to create counter-hegemonic educational spaces and practices and to challenge gatekeeping around education. At Anne Arundel Community College (AACC), the library and the Gender and Sexuality Studies Program have partnered to develop the Radical Knitting Club (RKC), a counter-hegemonic space that both encourages the critical analysis of knowledge around social justice and models counter-hegemonic practices through the creation of a decentralized public pedagogical space that works alongside formal educational structures. RKC brings faculty, staff, students, and community members together in intellectual community through art and activism. Using a model of public pedagogy inspired by old union practices, we have a rotating reader who reads from a social justice-oriented text. RKC members listen to the reading, work on their knitting or other crafts, and discuss the text. Using the same model, we sponsor quilting workshops where folks make quilt squares that reflect their experience with community through a social justice lens. The quilt squares become part of the AACC Community Quilt. In this paper, we will explain the theoretical underpinnings of RKC, share our design, and discuss our progress.   

Heather Rellihan (she/her), Professor, Gender and Sexuality Studies Program, Anne Arundel Community College
Sophie Reverdy, Librarian and Instructor, Anne Arundel Community College

Pleasure & Safety are Interconnected: The Clitoris as a Model   

The imposition of hierarchies has stigmatized and distorted knowledge about the clitoris. In instances when educators and activists resist the status quo by acknowledging the clitoris, they often assert that the clitoris’s sole function is sexual pleasure. Though recognizing clitoral pleasure supports liberatory progress, the sole function premise is inaccurate. The clitoris also functions in bodily protection and safety. The clitoris supports reproduction as well while simultaneously fully functioning outside of reproductive sexuality, i.e., penile-vaginal intercourse (PVI). The clitoris quite literally gives the clitoris-having subject reproductive support and choice about participating in reproductive sex/PVI without switching off functionality, a reconciliation implicated in autonomy and reproductive justice when viewed through intersectional lenses. Patriarchal cultures have not been able to conceptualize sexual pleasure, sexual safety, and freedom to participate (or not) in reproductive sexuality as characteristics that might co-occur for women as a sociopolitical identity, be they cisgender, transgender, or intersex women. The clitoris could serve as a pedagogical model for social-political movements.   

Angela Towne (she/they), Program Coordinator, LGBTQ Resource Center, Southern Illinois University  

Housing Advocacy to Fight Inequity    

Hear from a policy advocate on state and local advocacy examples in housing. Learn about housing advocacy and the intersection of disability rights, anti-discrimination law, and other topics that have been evolving post-COVID-19 pandemic.    

Katerina Klawes (
she/they), Policy Advocate, JustHouse

Tell Us the Stories of the Beloved Community & Use Your Voice to Effect Transformative Change   

Part eco-Nordic noir, part magical-realist examination of power, identity, and myth, Things We Found When the Water Went Down is a novel that asks us to explore what it means to heal—or not—after violence. Author Tegan Nia Swanson is also the Systems Change Coordinator for End Domestic Abuse Wisconsin, the statewide coalition against domestic violence. In her work to foster safety, healing, and justice for survivors, she advocates that we must also dismantle systems of oppression, colonialism, environmental violence, and the carceral state. Join her for an author reading and interactive session about how storytelling, art, and advocacy can effect transformative change in our communities.         

Tegan Nia Swanson (she/her/hers), Systems Change Coordinator, End Domestic Abuse Wisconsin

Concurrent Session 4 - Thursday, April 13, 3:00 pm - 4:15 pm CST

COVID-19 Impacts on Faculty: How Institutions Can Respond   

The Study of Faculty Worklife (SFW) is a longitudinal climate survey of faculty at the University of Wisconsin-Madison that was first developed in 2003. To date, seven waves of data collection (2003, 2006, 2010, 2012, 2016, 2019, and 2022) have occurred. All waves include tenured/tenure-track faculty at UW-Madison. During the last wave of data collection, one of the most widespread and long-lasting crises the academy has faced in modern history occurred, the COVID-19 pandemic. Research suggests that faculty members face both short-term and long-term impacts due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In the most recent iteration of the SFW, we asked two critical questions: (1) What long-term effect(s) of the COVID-19 crisis on your professional trajectory are you most worried about? (2) What university-level programs or policies would be most helpful in supporting you and reducing the professional losses and disruptions you have experienced due to the COVID-19 crisis? Our presentation focuses on the analysis of these two questions to identify both faculty concerns, particularly for women and BIPOC faculty, and suggestions for institutional response to alleviate negative impacts.   

Dessie Clark (she/her), Director of Curriculum Development and Implementation, WISELI, University of Wisconsin – Madison
Sidney Brandhorst (she/her), Development Specialist, San Diego State University
Jennifer Sheridan (she/her), Executive and Research Director, WISELI, University of Wisconsin – Madison
Christine Bell (she/her), Associate Researcher and Evaluator, University of Wisconsin – Madison
Tiaira Porter (she/her), Executive and Research Director, University of Wisconsin – Madison

A Cultural Wealth in Education Scale: Centering the Cultural Strengths of Latina/x Undergraduates    

Scales measuring Latinx undergraduates minimally consider their cultural strengths and much less reflect the nuanced and unique narrative of their educational experiences. Given the lack of emphasis on culturally-valid and specifically-constructed scales for Latinx undergraduates, we developed a scale using a strength-based approach to center familial and generational capacities as they thrive in spaces not previously integrative of their culture. We use the Psychosociocultural (PSC) Framework (Gloria & Rodriguez, 2000) that considers students’ self-beliefs, relationships, and values, as well as Yosso’s (2005) Community Cultural Wealth (CCW) constructs of aspirational, familial, linguistic, resistant, social, and navigational capital. Our scale consists of eight items based on a 5-point Likert-type scale, with higher scores reflecting Latinx students’ ability to step into their current and generational cultural wealth to persist academically. The scale allows for a decolonized and empowered approach that uplifts students’ narratives and centers an accurate and deep value-structured understanding of their educational experiences.    

Elizandra Sandoval, B.S. (she/her), Graduate Student, Department of Counseling Psychology, University of Wisconsin – Madison
Alberta M. Gloria, Ph.D. (ella/she/her/hers), Professor of Counseling Psychology, University of Wisconsin – Madison

Positioning Access to College for Young Parents as a Reproductive Justice Issue    

Young parents experience alarming inequities in college access; they are 41% less likely to attend college by age 23 compared to their childless peers. These disparities are due to myriad reasons, including the overrepresentation of young parents in poverty and the stigmatization of young parents. Reproductive justice (RJ) resists societal problematizations of young mothers through its assertion that all fertile persons have the right to choose to have a child, choose not to have a child, and/or to parent their children in a safe and healthy environment. RJ supports the validation of young mothers as worthy and deserving of resources that help improve outcomes, such as higher education. Yet, U.S. policies such as the Hyde Amendment, Personal Responsibility, and Abstinence Only Until Marriage legislation are key in the marginalization of young parents as an unworthy population for advanced education. In this presentation, I describe disparities in access to postsecondary education for teenage mothers and how policy contributes to these disparities. Further, I situate this issue within a reproductive justice framework, identifying these as human rights violations associated with policy and structural oppression.    

Kate Westaby (she/her), Doctoral Student, Educational Leadership and Policy Analysis, University of Wisconsin – Madison

Comparte tu Cuento: Caring for Stories of Reproductive [In]justice in Community-Engaged Projects    

Marginalized women have long been fighting for reproductive justice, which connects reproductive rights and issues like immigration rights, fair wages and housing, quality education, and safe neighborhoods (Silliman et al. 2016). We have also seen a shift toward reproductive justice in rhetoric and writing studies (Reflections, 2020; De Hertogh et al., 2022). This presentation considers the complications of implementing a feminist ethic of care into a community-engaged project with promotores de salud, who are Latinx health promoters working for reproductive justice in Wisconsin. Cuentos de Confianza is a bilingual digital storytelling project written by promotores about their lived experiences as Latina women advocating for sexual and reproductive education and health in their communities. I grapple with how to care for these women sharing their vulnerable stories on a digital platform by incorporating cultural rhetorics practices such as story, relationality, and constellative practices (Powell et al., 2014) into a feminist ethic of care. This demonstrates how feminist scholars can expand their notion of care to better account for the complexities of caring for vulnerable stories that circulate in digital spaces.    

Danielle Koepke (she/her/hers), Graduate Student, English (WGS certificate), University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee

Survival of U.S. Latina Single Mothers   

U.S. Latina single mothers struggle to survive because of societal challenges such as poverty, lack of affordable housing, lack of affordable childcare, and lack of child support. These difficulties are shaped by intersections of gender, ethnicity, class, income, education, immigration status, language limitations, and physical appearance. Drawing on a reproductive justice framework, I will use a qualitative approach to analyze blogs created by Latina single mothers. The goal is to center the experiences, narratives of hope, and collective action these mothers have for themselves and their children.

Ariana Berenice (she/they/ella), Graduate Student, Women Gender and Sexuality Studies, Oregon State University

Economic Violence and the Criminalization of Low-Income Mothers of Color    

In the aftermath of U.S. welfare reform, low-income mothers have been left to grapple with the demands of mothering in a work society that does not account for the labor — and necessity — of social reproduction. Low-income mothers of color are viciously targeted with what I term “economic violence,” exposing them to criminalization for attempting to create conditions of material survival for themselves and their families. Examining contemporary media cases of low-income mothers of color Shanesha Taylor, Debra Lynn Harrell, and Eva Hernández, each who experienced criminalization, I explore connections joining reproductive justice and abolition feminism here. In particular, this paper thinks through the convergence of racialized motherwork and welfare reform as sites of analysis to understand how the bodies of women of color are marked to fill the low-wage, cheap labor needs of racial capitalism, and “economic violence serves to lock these unjust hierarchies in place. Illuminating the systemic injuries that low-income mothers of color confront vis-à-vis economic violence, I explore how reproductive justice and abolition frameworks create conditions and possibilities for countering this violence and for intersectional economic and re-distributive justice.

Heather Montes Ireland (she/ella), Assistant Professor, Women’s and Gender Studies, DePaul University

Feminism and Motherhood: A Reconciliation of Identities   

Historically, there has been tension between mothers and feminists due to gender essentialism, mothers’ alignment with patriarchy, and weaponizing of motherhood. It has been stated, however, that motherhood is the “unfinished business of feminism” (O’Reilly), and feminism without mothers excludes women for whom being a mother is a central identity. Under patriarchy, being a “good mother” invokes a form of motherhood that is oppressive to women. The good mother is typically associated with White, cisheteronormative, middle-class women. When communities of mothers mobilize, there is little to no inclusion across race, and values of White femininity are rigorously gatekept, excluding Black women. Feminist scholarship must crucially interrogate motherhood since, for many women, motherhood is linked to the matrix of domination. In this talk, I draw from personal narrative to explore intersections between feminism, being a Black woman, and motherhood. I do this by 1) journeying through the “momosphere,” online communities based on white femininity and motherhood, and 2) describing my praxis as a Black mother in relation to Whiteness. This talk is transnational in context and is undergirded by anti-Black racism as a global problem.   

Kay Byer (she/her/hers), Graduate Student, Human Development and Family Studies, University of Wisconsin-Madison 

Students Queering Reproductive Justice    

With the recent Dobbs v. Jackson decision, many are concerned about the wearing away of rights and protections for LGBTQ people, especially those who are multiply marginalized. Throughout fall 2022, an introductory LGBTQ studies class put together a series of campus events, surveys, social media campaigns, and interactive exhibits to educate their peers at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay about queering reproductive justice. They took on questions such as, “How are LGBTQ people impacted by weakened rights and access to reproductive healthcare, and what barriers have historically existed?” “Why is there opposition to autonomy around gender identity, sexuality, and reproduction, and how would you debunk misinformation that challenges autonomy?” “How would you make the mainstream reproductive rights movement more inclusive and intersectional?” “What would a world look like where we have control over our own lives and bodies?” In this panel, several representatives from the class will share their projects and reflect on what this experience was like for them. They will then have a dialogue with the professor about what it means to learn and educate others about reproductive justice right now in Green Bay.   

Kaden Paulson-Smith (
they/them/theirs); Assistant Professor; Democracy and Justice Studies, Political Science, and WGSS; University of Wisconsin-Green Bay
Kylie Heling (they/she), Undergraduate Student, University of Wisconsin-Green Bay
Adeline Huybrecht (she/they), Undergraduate Student, University of Wisconsin-Green Bay
Andrea Auel (she/he/they), Undergraduate Student, University of Wisconsin-Green Bay
Graci Melms-Heitkemper (they/she), Undergraduate Student, University of Wisconsin-Green Bay

Concurrent Session 5 - Friday, April 14, 9:15 am - 10:30 am CST

Concerning Hopelessness in the Gender and Women’s Studies Classroom   

Drawing on data collected from student assessments of classroom discussion in two upper-level GWS classes, I analyze two central themes that emerge. First, the hopelessness that students feel when learning that all systems of oppression are mutually constituted, and the sense of isolation that comes with questioning what they, as individuals, can do in the face of this overwhelming reality. Second, the paradox of GWS classrooms as all at once being sacred spaces as well as echo chambers that hinder meaningful dialogue among people with differing backgrounds, identities, and perspectives. There remain significant difficulties within GWS programming in the recruitment of a broad cross-section of students with different embodiments, identities, histories, and experiences. Students identify this as an ongoing concern and feel that their efforts within these classroom settings become futile outside the classroom. This paper explores how GWS pedagogy may address that hopelessness, offering strategies for the sustainable application of knowledge and engagement for students outside of the classroom, as these classroom communities are temporally bound by academic calendars.   

Kate Phelps (she/they), Lecturer, Gender and Women’s Studies, University of Wisconsin-Madison

Hope, Pedagogy, and the Radical Act of Expecting a Future 

The interventions of feminist and anti-colonial theorists are arguably more urgent than ever in this present moment of bio- and socio-political crises. In feminist classrooms, how do we navigate affective responses of hopelessness that students may experience as we teach and learn both efficaciously and ethically about and amid crises such as climate change, systemic oppressions, and surveillance? How might feminist scholars understand the meaning, nature, and strategic value of hope in an increasingly dystopian world and disrupt the prepackaged narratives of capitalist constructions and military-energy regimes? This panel considers a range of theoretical and pedagogical approaches to the question of how feminist technoscience, environmental humanities, and post/anti-colonial studies might develop concrete strategies to help people (including our students) understand the enormity and complexity of these problems while simultaneously equipping them with ways to respond more productively than with despair. We believe that this project showcases how feminist studies provides students in all majors with vital intellectual tools for facing the challenges of the world today.    

Ellen Moll (she/her), Director, Center for Integrative Studies in the Arts and Humanities, Michigan State University
Prathim-Maya Dora-Laskey (she/her), Associate Professor, English and Gender Studies, Alma College


Resisting Grading Regimes, Reimagining Our Classrooms   

This workshop provides participants with a space to think collectively about the problems with grades and the possibility of moving beyond them. Given the embeddedness of grading within the repressive logics of racial capitalism and the carceral colonial state – and in light of growing evidence that grades are biased, stifle learning, and discipline students and faculty alike – we hold that resisting grades is key to liberatory pedagogical praxes and to the broader project of anti-racist and anti-colonial feminist knowledge production. As scholars who have published and/or presented about the effects of grading on women’s and gender studies classrooms, we have heard from many faculty and students who want to resist grades but lack the tools to do so. Since research on how to disrupt grading is rare, we are not proposing a panel featuring expert opinions on this topic. Instead, building on Freirean principles, we hope to create a space where learning can happen in dialogue: where participants can discuss the way they grade (or don’t grade), share the strategies they’ve developed for negotiating or dismantling dominant grading regimes, and reflect on the successes they’ve had and the challenges they’ve faced along the way.  

Liz Montegary (she/her); Faculty; Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies; Stony Brook University
Stina Soderling, Faculty, Women’s and Gender Studies, Hamilton College
Carolina Alonso Bejarano, Faculty, School of Law, University of Warwick

Our Voices: Feminist Pedagogy and Community Engagement through UWGB’s LGBTQ+ Archives Collecting   

In the Fall of 2019, the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay’s (UWGB) Archives Department began a collaboration with the Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies program to collect the oral histories of members of the local LGBTQ+ community. What began as an independent study course with two students has become an ongoing collecting focus, “Our Voices: LGBTQ+ Stories of Northeastern Wisconsin,” at UWGB. This panel will explore issues of feminist pedagogy and collaboration, along with practices of social-justice-centered community engagement, that are at the foundation of this work. Panelists will include the Director of the Archives, WGSS faculty, and WGSS students involved with community archiving. The course content and interview preparation process have sparked challenging questions for students about LGBTQ+ history, narrative, and community. Alongside these discussions, we have developed a practice of care and empowerment for our students—many of whom identify as members of the LGBTQ+ community—as well as the individuals in the community who share the stories and artifacts of their lives.   

Deb Anderson (she/her), Director of Archives, University of Wisconsin – Green Bay
Kimberley Reilly (she/her/hers); Associate Professor; Democracy and Justice Studies, History, and WGSS; University of Wisconsin – Green Bay
Stephanie Fellan (she/her), Undergraduate Student, University of Wisconsin – Green Bay
Valerie Murrenus Pilmaier (she/her), Associate Professor, University of Wisconsin – Green Bay

Curandera Writing: Contemplative Writing class   

Curandera writing is writing for healing. We believe that each of us can begin to heal ourselves with journaling and intentional prompts. We can heal the world if we begin healing ourselves and our families. We will uncover our reasons for doing our work in academia, activism, or our lives. How is that work connected to what our tierra (planet) needs for us? Being bilingual is not required. But having an intersectional mindset is strongly encouraged.” Bring two glasses of water, a journal and your favorite writing instrument.

Araceli Esparza (she/her/ella), Director – Midwest Mujeres, Midwest Mujeres Collective

Concurrent Session 6 - Friday, April 14, 12:45 pm-1:45 pm CST

The Poetics of Everyday Abolition: A Love Language

Abolition can be found within the canvas that is yet to be painted, the soil waiting to be fertilized, the sapling needing warmth and nourishment to grow. The tea that is still brewing, the simmering broth, the flower bud waiting to bloom, the caterpillar ready to metamorphose. Abolition is not a means to an end; it is a pathway to new beginnings. Abolition starts from within. It starts with recognizing the oppressor that lives within all of us (Lorde). It starts with killing the cop in our heads and in our hearts. Abolition is how we get free. We will explore the following questions, wrestle with their complexities, and embrace all of the messy entanglements they bring:

What if we get to be free?

How do we build a poetic of radical love? What would it mean to practice everyday abolition?

What would it mean to birth a constellation of visions and strategies for collective liberation?

Sahibzada Mayed (any pronouns), Graduate Student/Student Instructor, Design Engineering and Communication Studies, Northwestern University

Beyond the Child Welfare System: Co-created Collective Care Networks as a Way Towards Abolitionist Futures    

Abolition feminism teaches us that our survival is dependent on the destruction of institutions upholding values of individualism, scarcity mindsets, and fear—which are products of capitalism. Kaba and her co-conspirators introduce the idea of “non-reformist reforms” (2017), which instigates the decline of oppressive structures and reminds us that “the master’s tools will never dismantle the master’s house” (Lorde, 2007). Understanding that while our greater goal is abolition, we can be accountable for the co-creation of ways to alleviate struggle under the current conditions. One example of a structure I approach as a non-reformist reform is the child welfare system. I will elucidate on the child welfare system’s reliance on a young person’s removal from their homeplace, the manufacturing of statelessness in “the system,” and the erasure of community identity in order to maintain power—which thus creates a care deficit. Families and young people experience this care deficit by the State’s reliance on family policing to preserve hegemonic family formations rather than meeting the needs of the people. Finally, I will argue how young peoples’ resiliency and trauma-informed understanding of the world can influence pre-existing and co-created collective care networks. Hope is sustained by our collective envisioning of a future that goes beyond hegemonic ideas of family.

C Nelson (they/them), Graduate Student, Geography, University of Wisconsin – Madison

Reproductive Justice as Dismantling the School-to-Prison Nexus 

Abolition feminism offers guiding blueprints to dismantle structures of oppression both nationally and locally. This paper explores a rural abolitionist movement to stop increased surveillance and policing of youth. Using activist political education and local newspaper archives, we will apply SisterSong’s reproductive justice demands to show how parents and students used “the right to raise kids in a safe and healthy environment” to demand the removal of a school resource officer. As Mariame Kaba and Erica Meiners (2014) argue in “Arresting the Carceral State,” “…we won’t solve the STPP [school to prison pipeline] problem by simply changing school disciplinary policies. Because many states spend more on prisons than education, we have to change funding priorities as well.” For this reason, we will examine how the removal of resource officers did not offer systemic community change, and it was the demand of collective care that was able to save a youth rec center and stop the building of a juvenile detention center in rural Minnesota.

Mary Jo Klinker (she/they), Professor, Winona State University
Tova Strange (she/her), Undergraduate Student, Winona State University

Latina Politicization Process in Climate Justice Organizations    

The increasing Hispanic/Latinx voting population in Florida has an increasing influence on elections in the state and on national politics as well. Despite the population growth of Hispanic/Latinx communities, there has been a historic lack of Hispanic/Latinx voting participation in the U.S. Latina women make up the majority of the Hispanic/Latinx voter electorate and are the primary drivers of political and social change within their communities. Thus, Latinas are key to increasing the overall political participation of Hispanic/Latinx communities in the U.S., both in terms of voter turnout at other forms of civic engagement. The primary aims of this study are to explore the politicization and conceptualization of political participation of Latinas in Miami who are politically active within the environmental justice movement in order to examine what motivators and barriers influence their engagement. In particular, this study explores if exposure to feminist political discourse has encouraged political participation within this population, which prior research indicates may increase civic engagement.    

Barbara Perez (she/her); Graduate Student; Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies; Florida Atlantic University
Luisa Turbino-Torres (she/her/they), Professor, Florida Atlantic University

The Embodiment of Intersectional Feminism Among Asian American Womxn Undergraduates

Intersectional feminism (UN Women, 2020) takes an activist approach to dismantling patriarchy through the examination of oppressive systems and their impact on intersecting identities (e.g., race, class, sexual orientation, and age). Historically, Asian American womxn undergraduates (AAWUs) have exemplified activist attitudes reflecting a commitment to progressive social change, despite limited research. Utilizing the psychosociocultural (PSC) framework (Gloria and Rodriguez, 2000), this study examines how PSC factors influence AAWUs’ intersectional feminism. Through a qualitative, cross-sectional design, 8 AAWUs participated in 90–120-minute semi-structured interviews. Results supported the influence of PSC factors on AAWUs’ gender identity development. Findings revealed that AAWUs internalize intersectional feminist values through inclusivity, positionality, critical consciousness, and knowledge distribution. AAWUs rejected traditional family and social gender norms. Internal processes and lived experiences explained the embodiment of intersectional feminist ideals. This study elevates a historically marginalized narrative. Future research and practical implications are highlighted.   

Jillian Pearl A. Dela Cruz (she/her/hers), Undergraduate Student, Social Sciences, University of California – Irvine
Jeanett Castellanos, Ph.D. (she/her/hers), Associate Dean of Social Sciences and Professor of Social Sciences, University of California – Irvine
Alberta M. Gloria, Ph.D. (ella/she/her/hers), Professor of Counseling Psychology, University of Wisconsin – Madison

Decolonizing Undergraduate Student Research: Advanced WGS Students and Capstone Projects   

In this panel, UW-Whitewater undergraduate students will deploy an advanced feminist lens to analyze their undergraduate capstone projects, uncovering gaps in disciplinary research and the importance of Women’s and Gender Studies analysis in an undergraduate education. This work demonstrates resistance to a colonial state, specifically in disciplinary learning, and shows how Women’s and Gender Studies can serve as a tool for decolonizing undergraduate education. This panel will specifically present on: inclusive healthcare for gender-expansive individuals with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome, LGBTQ history in the American military, Lesbian subcultures and community building in the 1950s and 1960s, interpersonal relationships and coming out as LGBTQ+, and multicultural and decolonial approaches to feminist therapy. Each student presentation will demonstrate the significance of feminist analysis in creating more inclusive, equitable, and expansive approaches to learning, research, and education. And the ultimate outcome of the panel will demonstrate what type of learning and application is possible in an advanced, decolonial WGS classroom despite the limitations of institutional and disciplinary structures.

Ashley Barnes-Gilbert (she/her/hers), Assistant Professor, Women’s and Gender Studies, University of Wisconsin – Whitewater
Jenna Giese, Undergraduate student, University of Wisconsin – Whitewater
Holly Barnett, Undergraduate student, University of Wisconsin – Whitewater
Alyssa Dobbs, Undergraduate student, University of Wisconsin – Whitewater
Emily Sullivan, Undergraduate student, University of Wisconsin – Whitewater

Concurrent Session 7 - Friday, April 14, 2:00 pm-3:00 pm CST

Queering the Home & Tactics of Hope for Environmental Crisis in Vietnam   

Lower-middle-class housing in Ho Chi Minh City is not the ideal accommodation for queer individuals in Vietnam, especially with the lack of personal space between family members due to the rising living cost in a post-colonial state. Utilizing the critical lens of autoethnography, the paper explores the author’s journey of queer escapism to find hope to return to a house that is no longer the same: more boundaries yet wreaked with deterioration under the effect of the climate crisis. Constant and severe floods have led to inaccessibility to the toilet and hygiene-practicing space. Wielding concepts and theories from eco-feminist writers such as Dina Gilio-Whitaker and Jessica Hernandez, the author dissects the queer structure of their own “nuclear” family formation while facing the constant environmental threats of uninhabitable living space. At the center of critiques, the mother figure stands out. Using Patti Duncan’s work on motherhood in East Asia, the paper maps out practices of hope and perseverance against the debilitating ecology of the Vietnamese-governed state. Lastly, there is a call for communal solutions where in reality, it is the neighborhood that offers help, which undergirds the notion of collective hope in crisis.   

Trung M. Nguyen (he/she/they); Ph.D. Student; Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies; Oregon State University

Sexuate Knowledge in the Environmental Justice Movement    

Social movement scholarship (SMS) downplays grassroots women’s knowledge due to the reference to neuter subjects in neo-liberal politics. In order to highlight Global South women’s knowledge, this paper aims to answer the question: What knowledge has been produced by village women who fight against the state? I engage with the concept of “sexuate difference” of Irigaray to elaborate on how village women create sexuate knowledge in the environmental justice movement by using a case study of Thailand. I argue that the Thai grassroots women who fight for their community resort to specific sexuate knowledge in their commitment to the state resistance movement, which is different from their male partners. However, these different forms of knowledge complement each other, which results in redefining a politics based on mutual respect for sexuate differences.   

Chanida Chitbundid, Graduate Student, Anthropology, University of Wisconsin – Madison

Gendering Environmental Humanities: Eco-Feminist Standpoint as ‘Hope’ in Select Indian Narratives    

The present paper seeks to explore the eco-feminist standpoint as a ‘hope’ in the globalized age through select contemporary Indian English narratives by Anuradha Roy and Usha K.R. Both the writers, in terms of activism and fictional representation, demonstrate a transitional shift between feminism and humanism through ecology. Contemporary time often witnesses the overarching nature-culture binary of ‘ecoprecarity’ (Nayar, 2019), but a postcolonial gendered reflection of environmental humanities will examine the liminal positionality of the so-called ‘second sex’ of third-world in-between Nature and Culture. Critiquing ‘Prakriti’ (i.e. Nature) as a source of all life beyond a western discourse, this paper will reassess the gendered experiences of Indian women using the feminist intersectional framework of women, ecology, and survival propounded by Vandana Shiva (2010). Further, this recognition and evaluation of sexism and Anthropocene in terms of women’s experience will substantiate eco-feminism as a standpoint of ‘hope’ across transnational boundaries.   

Dr. Chhandita Das, Assistant Professor, Humanities and Social Sciences, Ghani Khan Choudhury Institute of Engineering & Technology

The Biopolitics of Transnational Intersex Humor    

How have intersex activists—people who advocate for the rights of those whose bodies do not fit typical definitions of male and female—used humor to critically illuminate cisheteropatriarchy’s contradictions and violences? Using critical intersex, trans, and crip frameworks, this paper analyzes the biopolitics of affect in transnational intersex activism. Closely reading scenes from the widely taught documentary films Diagnosing Difference (2008) and Intersexion (2012), I argue that activists grapple with and mobilize the negative affects generated by nonconsensual surgical normalization by deploying humor as a form of disidentification (Munoz, 1999). Intersex humor denaturalizes the medical industrial complex’s unwavering faith in false notions of sexual dimorphism and gender binarism that are themselves grounded in cisheteronormativity, settler colonialism, whiteness, and ableism. Destabilizing these ideologies, intersex activists have developed a rich comedic vocabulary that helps us to critically rethink the affective and embodied biopolitics of social change.    

David A. Rubin (they/them/he/his); Associate Professor; Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies; University of South Florida

How to Build Transnational Feminist Solidarity?    

On September 16, 2022, Mahsa (Zhina) Amini, a 22-year-old Kurdish-Iranian woman, was beaten to death by the Iranian state’s morality police. Mahsa’s tragic death reignited embers of anger and frustration, and thus Iranian people came out in huge numbers. Inspired by the Kurdish women’s movement, protestors chanted, “women, life, freedom.” As expected, such slogans, dancing bodies without hijab, and hijab burnings were violently cracked down on by the theocratic state. After all, it had recourse to sponsored troll armies, internet shutoff, lethal ammunition, and a way with mass arrests. Unfortunately, metropolitan academia in the West, and feminists’ collectives in particular, maintained a characteristic strategic silence. To me, however, their silence was neither new nor surprising. In 2019, I wrote a letter to the National Women’s Studies Association (NWSA) in the United States demanding a solidarity statement for Iranian women on the question of the Islamic dress code. NWSA promised a response to my letter, which they never did. In a way, the strategic silence of academic establishments is equally responsible for Mahsa (Zhina) Amini’s death. In this paper, I ask, “Why is it that Western feminist academics are hesitant or even reluctant to show solidarity and support for women in Iran fighting religious dictatorship, theocratic patriarchy, and gender apartheid?” To find an answer to this question, I draw on my own experience with transnational activism in the Middle East, Canada, and the U.S. and a decade-long ethnographic research with women political dissidents who fought the regime from the corners of their solitary cells in political prisons.

Sona Kazemi (she/her); Assistant Professor; Race, Gender, and Sexuality Studies; University of Wisconsin – LaCrosse

What We Talked About When we Talked about the Pandemic: KADEM’s Seventh Gender Justice Congress  

KADEM (Women and Democracy Association) is an NGO that works to build a safe environment and a just future for women. To this end, we have been carrying out an annual Gender Justice Congress since 2015 with the aim of enhancing Women’s Studies. Our seventh congress (2021) had the theme of “Women in the Pandemic.” The presentation explains KADEM’s experience with the “Women in the Pandemic “congress, hoping to contribute to its vision of a just society. The papers revealed some important aspects in relation to the gendered dimension of the global pandemic, specifically in the context of Turkey. These included such findings as: women’s workload did not get lighter during the pandemic; the position of women in the labor market has become even more fragile; and older women adapted more easily to the isolation process than their male counterparts. The papers studied, among other topics, reveal how women in Turkey coped with the pandemic on the spiritual level as well as new stressors on the psychological level.

Sare Rabia Öztürk, Senior Researcher, Research and Development, KADEM (Women and Democracy Association)
Sveda Bahar Savur, Researcher, Research and Development, KADEM (Women and Democracy Association)

Political Participation of Women in Russia: From State-Sponsored Feminism to Putin’s Machismo 

I argue that representation in autocracies and its effects should be considered through the lens of how authoritarian states see representation and uncertainty. Using the case of the Soviet and post-Soviet Russia which experienced a 74–year history of state feminism, I plan to study how women’s quotas functioned in the USSR and evaluate the difference in women’s representation and political participation between the 1990s and Putin’s era. I claim that the most valuable characteristics of a representative in the 1990s were competitiveness and entrepreneurship. In contrast, in the 2000s we can observe the return to the Soviet model of loyalty and codependency.

Valeria Umanets (she/her),, Graduate Student, Political Science, UW-Madison

What the Overturn of Roe v. Wade Means to Young Black Women in the United States: A Phenomenological Study    

The overturn of Roe v. Wade has heightened public conversations about reproductive justice and its effects on Black women. This proposal is a phenomenological study that seeks to investigate how young Black women (living in a state where abortion is illegal) understand the implications of Dobbs v. Jackson, historical approaches to abortion, and how reproductive rights shape their future experiences. Black women are four times more likely than white women to have an abortion. During the slave trade and before women had rights to abortion, Black women were raped by their enslavers, and their children were used to increase the slave population. Black women resisted by avoiding sexual intercourse and terminating their pregnancy with their hands. With the high rates of sexual abuse, poverty, negligence, and child-care difficulty Black women still experience today, it is most likely that Black women would return to the self-protective measures they practiced pre-abolition period. The results of this proposal will be a source of reflection and guidance to activists, policymakers, healthcare professionals, and everyone concerned about the damaging implications for Black women. 

Diane Ezeh Aruah, Assistant Professor, Mass Communication, Tennessee State University

Abortion Access for Minors: A Wisconsin Mapping Project   

Since the overturn of Roe v. Wade in June, clinical abortion care is no longer available in Wisconsin. However, states like Illinois and Minnesota have liberalized abortion care, including waiving parental consent for abortion. This mapping project explores the various barriers that Wisconsin minors face in order to receive abortion care in Illinois and Minnesota, including limited transportation options and barriers to funding.    

Barbara Alvarez (she/her), Graduate Student, The Information School, UW-Madison; UW-CORE; iSchool

Resisting Like a Plant: Reclaiming Space in a Post-Roe Landscape     

Since Roe was overturned, the rate of medication abortion has increased (Aiken et al., 2022), allowing people to control their reproductive health in the privacy of their own homes. The fight over abortion has largely been about “choice,” which is often complicated by intersecting forms of oppression. Accordingly, women’s bodies become contested sites of control – biopolitical spaces upon and within which the state exerts its power. This control is exerted through abortion restrictions and extends into the spaces we occupy. Drawing on bell hooks’ idea of the “homeplace,” I argue that the domestic space might now (again) be considered a site of resistance for people seeking an abortion. Additionally, since many people are constrained to their environment and cannot move if abortion is illegal, I also argue that we can find ways to resist that resemble the ways in which plants resist – by remaking and reassembling the spaces around us. Building on Anna Tsing’s idea of “disturbance,” we might understand the Dobbs ruling as the greatest disturbance we have experienced within the reproductive health ecosystem. Ultimately, I suggest this offers the opportunity to remake this landscape and secure reproductive justice for all people.

Morgan Robinson (she/her), Graduate Student, Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies, University of Wisconsin – Madison

The Case Study I Wish I Couldn’t Tell You: A Personal Account of Reproductive Healthcare in the Hands of Policymakers    

In the early weeks of the COVID-19 pandemic, I was denied access to a life-saving abortion. I was experiencing an ectopic pregnancy, but when I called my doctor’s office to ask for help, was repeatedly denied assistance due to “COVID restrictions.” I experienced firsthand the gaslighting (and internalized misogyny) that people with uteruses encounter in medical facilities daily when I called to ask for help. The negligence of the nurses and doctors I reached out to who were “just following the policy” caused permanent damage to my reproductive health.

More than two years later, I am currently undergoing in-vitro fertilization (IVF), a necessary procedure for pregnancy due to the damage I suffered from the medical neglect I experienced. The reproductive healthcare roadblocks and invasion of personal choice and agency continue to be part of my experience through the IVF process, despite the fact that I am trying to establish (rather than end) a pregnancy.

This personal case study will illustrate some of the nuanced and dangerous experiences related to hyper-regulated reproductive healthcare in order to highlight the reality that sweeping policies are not flexible enough to safely and healthily address all patient needs.

Mackenzie Krzmarzick (she/her); Lecturer; English, Philosophy, and Communication Studies; University of Wisconsin – Stout  


Remembering Nokuthula Simelane – Commemorative Landscapes, Critical Citizenship and Practices of Care    

It might seem incongruous to talk about liberatory and feminist futures while directing one’s attention toward the commemoration of the past. My presentation on the different commemorative objects honoring Nokuthula Simelane—Mark Kaplan’s film essay and the statue designed by Johan van Vuuren and installed in her hometown of Bethal, South Africa —considers the emerging possibilities when the memory of this anti-apartheid activist is translated into publicly recognized heritage. What is at stake in the production of (feminist) memory landscapes (Marita Sturken) that aim not to manage but to activate the past and render memory and grief performative? What types of literary and levels of engagement are demanded of an audience when they encounter commemorative objects that repurpose established commemorative languages and, in the process, challenge conventional notions of heroism, activism, and justice in contemporary South Africa? In the collaboration between Nokuthula’s family and the artists (Kaplan and van Vuuren), new forms of memorialization emerge that, I will argue, envision the possibility of a critical citizenship invested as much in accountability for the past as in present-day practices of filial care.   

Marie Kruger (she/her/hers); Associate Professor; English and Gender, Women’s and Sexuality Studies; University of Iowa

The Impossibility of Reproductive Justice in Simin Daneshvar’s Savushun: A Novel About Modern Iran   

This paper examines representations of childbirth in Simin Daneshvar’s Savushun: A Novel About Modern Iran in the context of early twentieth-century Christian missionaries’ “soft colonization” of Iran through medical assistance programs. Yet, Savushun, which is set in British-occupied southern Iran during World War Two, offers a harsh critique of the figure of the Western doctor, especially the character of the female gynecologist. Zari, the protagonist, depicts Christian missionaries’ medicalization of childbirth as culturally alien and colonizing. Whereas a less nuanced novel might reinforce this condemnation of Western medicine by valorizing traditional healing arts, Savushun does not impose a binary between midwifery and missionary practices. Rather, she expresses regret that local midwives had not been able to deliver her three children in an implicit, if reluctant, admission that their skills were insufficient. This conundrum—there is no one who Zari trusts to deliver her fourth baby—illustrates one of the novel’s overriding themes, which is that the possibilities for “Iranianness” in the modern period are severely limited by the unviability of persistent traditions and the corrupting influence of Westernization.    

Colette Morrow (she/her), Professor, WGSS/English & World Languages, Purdue University Northwest

Rupturing Respectability: The Flamboyance, Joy, and Success of Two Black Madams in 19th Century St. Louis     

In this presentation, I will explore the labor and approach to brothel ownership by two Black madams in 1890s St. Louis: Sara “Babe” Connor and Priscilla Henry. The aim of this paper is to demonstrate models for abolitionist feminist approaches in the historical record – models for belonging and resistance without social and legal safety. These madams straddle the societal fault lines of proper and improper sexual behavior, public and private, racism and racialized desire, and demonization and belonging in turn of the century St. Louis. Henry and Connor profited from flouting social taboos and revealing the fragility, racism, and heteronormativity of social respectability. Their lives and legacies are examples of queer belonging and joy, existing and thriving within and beyond the racist, capitalist, and sexist structures of time and space in 19th-century St. Louis. And their very existence—both in the 1890s and in the historical record today—acts as a rupture in capitalist norms, demonstrating the possibilities of an alternative lived reality apart from respectable belonging.   

Ashley Barnes-Gilbert (she/her/hers), Assistant Professor, Women’s and Gender Studies, University of Wisconsin – Whitewater

Concurrent Session 8 - Saturday, April 15, 11:30 am - 12:30 pm CST

Imagining Inclusive Workplace Cultures for Women and 2SLGBTQIA+ students in STEM Professions    

This “panel” is more of a discussion to generate ideas about how to make real and lasting changes in workplace cultures so that women and 2SLGBTQIA+ students who pursue STEM education and careers feel welcome, included, respected, and safe in the workplace and choose to stay in those lucrative professions. We are two professors at Madison College: one is the Director of the STEM Center, and the other is the Coordinator of the Data Analytics Certificate and Co-Coordinator of the Gender and Women’s Studies Certificate. As we recruit more women and 2SLGBTQIA+ students to work and study within our programs and encourage them to transfer to universities to pursue STEM majors, we are also aware of the reality of inclusivity in the workplace (or lack thereof). What can college and university educators, administration, and staff do to work with employers to create more inclusive workplaces for our students so that they are able to remain in the careers that their educations prepared them for?   

Dr. Angelika Gulbis, Faculty, Sociology, Madison College
Dr. Kit Carlson, Professor, Madison College

Identifying Hostile Workplace Conditions Associated with Negative Experiences that Disproportionately Affect Minoritized Groups in Ecological, Earth, and Spaces Sciences    

The earth and spaces sciences have achieved gender parity in student enrollment, but women continue to be underrepresented in leadership positions. In terms of racial and ethnic diversity, ESE fields have some of the lowest representation in STEM. Persistent low diversity has often been attributed to low recruitment efforts. However, gender and racial biases create hostile workplace conditions that influence career advancement and retention. Hostile workplace climates have been reported in numerous publications highlighting how scientists of color, queer, women, and those who identify as disabled are most often targeted by negative experiences. Consequently, these groups feel unsafe and opt out of professional activities. Here we present combined results from the ADVANCEGeo Partnership climate survey of scientific societies for a total of 2,489 respondents. We aim to report how workplace attitudes relate to negative experiences for different demographic groups. We present how these experiences are associated with participants’ considering leaving the discipline, feeling unsafe, or reporting lower productivity at work.    

Emily J. Diaz Vallejo (she/her/hers), Graduate Student, Geography, University of Wisconsin – Madison  

From Synchronous to Asynchronous: Teaching and Adapting the Course Gender and Climate Change    

In the age of rapidly developing online courses and justified demands for further accessibility in education, transitioning and adapting courses from synchronous to asynchronous is a crucial component of academia. Consequently, educators must engage with new and alternative ways of accessing and sharing information. In this presentation, I will explain how I adapted the course “Gender and Climate Change” to an asynchronous course, including the various multimedia elements of the course design. We will explore engaging YouTube videos, websites, podcasts, and assignments that promote student interest and provide a smooth transition from synchronous to asynchronous format. I will emphasize the importance of emerging online education and how this intersects with feminist environmental studies. As bell hooks astutely notes, “To teach in varied communities not only our paradigms must shift but also the way we think, write, speak. The engaged voice must never be fixed and absolute but always changing, always evolving in dialogue with a world beyond itself.” Therefore, in this ever-changing world, it is imperative that we envision alternative approaches to teaching.    

Daniella Orias (she/her); Ph.D. Student and Graduate Teaching Assistant; Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies; Florida Atlantic University

Teaching Disney’s Moana from Climate Justice and Ecofeminist Perspectives    

The 2016 Disney film Moana, hailed in some quarters as an ecofeminist and progressive film, features a girl of color as a heroic eco-warrior, reverence for an Earth Mother, and a showcasing of female leadership. This reading is countered by a decolonial, climate justice, and ecofeminist critique of Moana as flawed for the erasure of colonialism and appropriation/distortion of Polynesian culture and religion. Tina Ngata decries Moana for its masquerade as an Indigenous story. The recognition of colonialism and male supremacy as the cause of ecological disasters is the heart of ecofeminist climate justice. The film’s problematic representation of Mother Earth is based on the Western oppositional and hierarchical dualisms that ecofeminist Val Plumwood identifies as the “logics of domination” underlying ecocide. Teaching Moana allows an understanding of the continuing role of colonialism in the climate crisis, the significance of Indigenous stories and the harm of their distortion and appropriation, the complex application of ecofeminist ideas, critical analysis of popular culture, and an examination of the multivalent power of narrative in elaborating worldviews.

Jane Caputi (she/her); Professor; Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies; Florida Atlantic University

An (Eco)Feminist Classroom: Incorporating Feminist Pedagogy to Teach Gender and Climate Change    

(Eco)feminist pedagogy is an alternative framework that educators can employ to transform environmental education into a more powerful source of social and ecological justice. Ecofeminism calls for using a critical environmental justice lens to achieve ecosocial justice, which acknowledges the links between social injustices and environmental degradation. Critical Environmental Justice (Pellow, 2017) is a paradigm that can be used to explore multiple dimensions of environmental issues in the classroom using these four pillars: 1) intersectional analysis, which brings in at least two of the following dimensions of racism, classism, sexism, heteronormativity, ableism, and speciesism; 2) multiscalar frameworks at the individual, local, global, and historical levels; 3) analysis of the role of state power; and 4) centering the indispensability and interconnectedness of all life on Earth through a pedagogy of the land. Ecofeminist pedagogy draws from Sentipensante pedagogy (Rendon, 2009) to encourage students to bring their whole selves to class. It encourages students to see themselves as a part of the environment rather than distance themselves from the environment as something to be objectively studied.    

Barbara Perez (she/they), Graduate Student, Comparative Studies, Florida Atlantic University

***Please note that this workshop continues into Concurrent Session 9 and runs from 11:30am-1:30pm.***

For theatremaker Cyra K. Polizzi and many colleagues of various specialties (directors, actors, designers, etc), virtual playwriting workshops during the COVID-19 pandemic have brought essential sustenance and hope. Writing a play practices first steps in imagining and creating a world to be embodied in the future, and is, in itself, an act of hope.

In this beginner workshop, Polizzi welcomes participants (especially those with no experience in playwriting!) to join in a series of short activities designed to spark creativity, expand our toolboxes for imagining more just futures, and bring us together around storymaking.

The workshop will be modeled after Rotate Theatre Writing Workshops which offer fun, accessible ways to experiment with playwriting featuring underrepresented perspectives. These workshops include a rotating collection of writing prompts, activities utilizing other areas of theatre (acting, directing, design, etc), and contextualizing exercises that help us recognize and shape the messages of our own developing stories.

Cyra K. Polizzi (they/she), Rotate Theatre Company Ensemble Member and UW-Madison Alum (2021: MA GWS, 2002: BA Theatre & Drama, Acting Specialist, w/ certificates in GWS and Environmental Studies), Rotate Theatre Company

Concurrent Session 9 - Saturday, April 15, 1:00 pm - 2:00 pm CST

From Today to Tomorrow: Improving Health Access for Trans and Gender Expansive Folks

This presentation will look into how the existing patient-centered learning experience provided to grad and law students via the Center for Patient Partnerships (CPP) works towards providing transgender and gender-expansive folks in Wisconsin holistic support during their health journeys. A former Student Advocate will share his perspective and discuss his experiences as a trans man both working within this advocacy framework and receiving advocacy as a client of CPP. Presenters will discuss the burden that prior authorizations and appeals place on trans folks, the need to overhaul coverage requirements and language in health plans, and the importance of amplifying trans voices in all areas of policy and law.   

Guy John Halcón (he/him/él), Graduate and Law Student, Center for Patient Partnerships, University of Wisconsin – Madison, Law School
Sachin Gupte (he/him), Clinical Assistant Professor, Center for Patient Partnerships, University of Wisconsin – Madison, Law School

Visiblizing Intersex Care    

Despite academic and political focus on trans care, the realities, needs, and potentialities of intersex care are barely acknowledged outside intersex communities. Given the predominant medical approach for 70 years has been to suppress intersex traits and identifications through physical, psychological, and linguistic means in childhood, the possibility of critical interventions by intersex individuals themselves did not emerge until the 1990s. Since then, crucial work by intersex activists has increased awareness of damage done by nonconsensual, cosmetic surgical interventions performed on intersex children, and resulted in several nationwide bans on such surgeries internationally and in several US hospital systems. However, these victories have been met with backlash from medical and parent organizations, and the need for adequate, accessible, and liberatory medical and psychological care for intersex adults remains unfulfilled and invisibilized. In this talk, we will discuss the role of white supremacy and eugenics in medicalizing intersex bodies, the strengths and limits of existing intersex care, the inability of current systems of trans care to fully encompass the needs of intersex individuals, and our hopes for the future.   

Sam Sharpe (they/them), Ph.D. Candidate, Teaching Instructor, Peer Advocate, Biology/Social Transformation Studies, Kansas State University (also InterConnect and FEDUP Collective)
Marissa Adams (she/her), Program Coordinator and Advocate, InterConnect, InterACT, FEDUP Collective

The Influence of Restricted Abortion on Women’s Dating Choices   

Reproductive rights have been fiercely contested over the past several decades. With the overturning of Roe v. Wade, women’s liberty and bodily autonomy is once more at stake. The US Supreme Court’s decision has taken away the constitutional right to seek abortion: a decision that has harmful and inequitable repercussions on the reproductive health of many Americans. Given the anxiety and confusion surrounding the removal of reproductive rights, we investigated whether a reminder of the recent Supreme Court decision influences women’s selection strategies in the online environment. Participants were randomly assigned to read an article reviewing the overturning of Roe v. Wade, or an article reviewing a recent Supreme Court decision on open-carry gun laws, or to read no article. They then examined several fictitious Tinder profiles, varying in facial masculinity, and rated their interest. We hypothesized that women reminded of abortion restrictions would be more selective in general, and would exhibit greater interest in masculine-appearing men. Given the recency of the overturning of Roe v. Wade, this study is among the first to document how women’s behavior might change in the post-Roe landscape.    

Maddie Gehl (she/her), Undergraduate Student, Psychology, University of Wisconsin – Platteville

Impacts of Overturning Roe v. Wade: Reflection through a Historical Lens

How has abortion been legally defined by Wisconsin legislation? What are the insinuations of the legal definition of abortion in Wisconsin and how will these questions provide an understanding of the reversal of Roe v. Wade (1973) in June 2022? In an attempt to answer these questions, the presenter will discuss Wisconsin policy formed in 1849 around the first time that abortion was first restricted in Wisconsin. The presenter will also discuss the consequences and practicality around reverting to Wisconsin policy created in 1849 to show how this ruling will not work for any other state that is planning on reverting to policy pre-Roe v. Wade, specifically in comparison to other states in the Upper Midwest. The presenter will also discuss which communities are more heavily affected by the reversal of Roe v. Wade (1973). In an attempt to promote a call for action, the presenter will discuss what states have currently or are planning to revert to old policy and how this will prove inadequate for those states. Finally, the presenter will touch on keeping the conversation of abortion right relevant as to continue activism around the topic, because laws will not change without advocacy which requires media bringing attention to the issue.

Elizabeth Schmitt (she/her), Undergraduate Student, Criminal Justice, University of Wisconsin – Platteville

The Price of Pleasure: An Analysis of the U.S.’s Sexual Liberation as Neoliberal & Reliant on Capitalism   

I examine the current state of sexual liberation in the U.S., both before and after the Dobbs v. Jackson decision, engaging in conversation with right-wing talking points that people should not have sex unless they can “afford the consequences”—a variation of long-standing arguments surrounding personal responsibility.  As a rebuttal, I argue that pleasure already has a monetary and symbolic price that is higher for women and people of color in the U.S.: the recent SCOTUS decision will exacerbate these inequities. By showcasing several examples of tools of pleasure and safe sex and their associated prices, I argue that the vast array of opportunities for sex at a cost shows how sexuality has been coopted by neoliberalism and left behind the sexual liberation that feminists had long hoped for. My essay follows the suggestion presented in many previous scholarly works that are critical of Western feminism, neoliberalism, and capitalism, and I hope it may be able to add to how activists and scholars think about how to counteract these systems. Ultimately, my goal for this paper is to warn for the future of reproductive justice and sexual liberation, showing how some of these movements’ language and goals have been coopted by neoliberalism.   

Madison Lazenby (she/her), Undergraduate Student, Women’s & Gender Studies, Hamilton College 

The University of Wisconsin-Green Bay (UWGB) sits in the heart of Northeast Wisconsin, surrounded by water and woods, as well as farms and industry. Euro-American colonization underlies the fabric of local communities in not only economic but also culturally significant ways. The majority of the population are unaware that social norms rooted in the history of white settlement and racial exclusion profoundly shape how they experience their daily lives. Meanwhile, the campus resides on the homelands of Menominee and Ho-Chunk peoples and is adjacent to the Oneida Nation. Indeed, UWGB prides itself on its First Nations Studies program and celebrates national recognition as a place of LGBTQIA+ inclusion. Almost half of students who attend the institution are first-generation college students, and two-thirds identify as female. Increasingly a more racially diverse educational space, UWGB seeks to be a site of access for underrepresented students. On this panel, professors discuss approaches to challenging colonialism in their classrooms, scholarship, and communities and address how they critically and creatively engage with their unique group of students.    

Jillian Marie Jacklin (she/her/hers), Lecturer, Democracy and Justice Studies, University of Wisconsin – Green Bay
Kaden Paulson-Smith (they/them/theirs); Assistant Professor; Democracy and Justice Studies, Political Science, and WGSS; University of Wisconsin – Green Bay
Ann Mattis; Associate Professor; English, Humanities, and Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies; University of Wisconsin – Green Bay