Cate Peabody '19 Psychology Major, Poverty and Human Capabilities and Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Minors
In my junior year of high school, if you would have asked me if I was a feminist, I would have told you no because I didn't want to be associated with women who went against the norm of their time, solely because I was so desperate to fit in with mine. I was at a disadvantage by going to an all-girls school, having been taught about the women's movement but not having been aware that I was experiencing oppression in my everyday life, mainly because I lived in an isolated bubble. Coming to college, I saw a whole new world. Women were not the center of the classroom, but instead men were.
My first year, I was trying to fit in. I came to W&L because of Greek Life, it was what I had always wanted, a group of girls who would pick me and I would became a member of something. So, desperately trying to fit in, I started to fit the mold. I bought a Barbour jacket, I went out every weekend, and I joined a sorority. But I was still unhappy with who I was; I had this great group of girls who I was so like, but it wasn't me and I had lost my individuality. Spring term came around and my friend and I decided to take a women's studies course, Professor Verhage's The Second Sex class. I had just finished a semester of taking economics, politics, and accounting courses and was ready for a change. I got lost in that book, every page I would tap my friend on the shoulder and say "Oh my god, did you see this?" One part of the book was about child and sex development and I fell in love with the subject. I immediately emailed my advisor and told him I needed to change my major plan around. I wanted to study Psychology instead of Accounting; I needed to study as much about gender and sexuality as I could. I had in that moment, realized who I needed to become. Dr. Fulcher has been my advisor since I had this epiphany. Her classes on developmental psychology, specifically gendering of children, evoke questions that I didn't even know could be asked. Having a professor who is interested in a similar topic has helped me to expand my ideas and find a topic I'm interested in pursuing in future research.
I have had a really difficult time realizing who I am and what I want out of life. I have always felt that as a human, it is my responsibility to leave the planet a better place than how it was when I got here. Not only that, but it is my responsibility to voice my opinions and push myself and others to be their best selves. Fitting in to the W&L mold didn't let me do that, instead it is standing out that does. Taking women's, gender, and sexuality courses; engaging in discussions on poverty and the capabilities of humans; studying how people gender themselves and how to incorporate gender fluidity and neutrality into society, that helps me to be confident in who I am. I have since stopped trying to fit in and instead decided to stand up. I now articulate my ideas through choreographing dance pieces, doing volunteer work to better the community, and being my true self at all times. I've found a passion and identity to continue after college. I'm the woman with the ugly clogs on her feet and the nasty woman slogan across her chest for all to see.