Since she first performed on television in October, Mayam Mahmoud’s new fans have been posting up to 50 supportive messages a day on Facebook. But there have also been a few unwelcome messages. “Some say I’m creating a bad name for Islam,” she says. “Or even that I’m an infidel.”
A hijab-wearing rapper, Mahmoud has challenged some Egyptians’ expectations of how women – and hijab wearers in particular – are meant to behave. Mahmoud, 18, is not Egypt’s first veiled rapper, or even its most experienced. But through her appearances on Arabs Got Talent, a variety show that has become a primetime success across the Middle East, she is one of the few to attract something approaching mainstream attention.
“It’s got a lot of people talking about whether it’s possible for a veiled girl, or even a girl, to do this,” says Mahmoud, who says her veil is a personal choice and has little relevance to her music. “If a girl has a dream to work in a field where many girls don’t work, or to do post-graduate study, or to work in a position higher than her husband – all these things often can’t be done.”
Rapping is a case in point, she says. It is by no means a conventional path for Egyptian men, but for women it is twice the battle. “The girls in this field are thought to have bad morals. It’s known that when a girl tries to record a track, she will just be one girl in the studio with a lot of guys for a long time. So it’s hard to find someone to work with her, to create a beat, to master the track.”
Mahmoud, an economics undergraduate from Cairo, says she tries not to listen to listen to western hip-hop. Her biggest influence is her mother, who introduced her to poetry aged 12 and encouraged her to write her own work. When her poetry turned into rap, her parents were initially sceptical because they felt it was not a sufficiently feminine activity for her. But gradually they grew convinced, and eventually they allowed her to record a track in Alexandria, Egypt‘s second city, while they waited in a cafe around the corner.
Her appearances on television constituted her first public performances. Interest in her music grew quickly, and she has since played five concerts to enthusiastic university audiences who say they find her empowering. “The other day a woman came up to me and said she’d been watching me on TV with her friends,” Mahmoud recalls. “She said: keep on talking about all the things that we don’t have the courage to talk about. You’ve become the hope. You are pushing people to start doing stuff.”
Mahmoud’s fans find her inspiring not just because she is a woman but because her work centres on sexual harassment, a local taboo. Harassment is an endemic problem in Egypt: 99.3% of Egyptian women reported being sexually harassed, with 91% saying they felt insecure in the street as a result, according to a UN survey published in April.
For her part, Mahmoud carries a sharp nail to protect herself in a worst-case scenario. But many women feel afraid to discuss the issue publicly because they fear they will be stigmatised. Women who speak out are often assumed to have somehow provoked the attention. “It’s happening to everyone,” says Mahmoud. “But everyone is scared to talk about it.”
Her songs tackle harassment and victim-blaming head-on – condemning Egyptian society for accepting harassment as part of everyday life, and for laying the blame for it on women rather than men.
“I won’t be the shamed one,” she says in one of her raps. “You flirt, you harass and you see nothing wrong with it. But even if it’s just words, these are not flirts, these are stones.”
Mahmoud thinks the problem can only be tackled if women call out harassers in the street, and she hopes her rapping will encourage others to follow her lead.
“A woman will often choose to stay silent in case she’s told it’s her fault,” said Mahmoud. “But every time we don’t say anything, we make the problem bigger. Maybe the reason harassment is worse here than many other places is because we choose to shut up – and then they think they can do it more and more.”
Additional reporting by Manu Abdo
The WGSS Annual New Faculty Open House was a great success. Thanks to all who participated!
Hey students! Do you know we offer a WGS Individually Designed Major? Check out the application at http://www.fairfield.edu/media/fairfielduniversitywebsite/documents/academic/cas_wgss_indp_major.pdf .
We are excited to announce our spring semester courses! With registration right around the corner, be sure to think about including some of our courses in your schedule!
||CO 246 A & B
|Literature and the Visual Arts
||EN 171 A
|Edith Wharton and Her Circle
||EN 235 A
|Inventing Themselves: African American Women in U.S. History
||HI 263 A
|Gender, War and Peace
|Nursing of Women and the Childbearing Family
||NS 314 B & S
|Politics, Race, Class and Gender
||PO 153 A
|Christian Feminist Theology
||RS 236 A
|Sociology of the Family
||SO 142 A & B
|Race, Gender and Ethnic Relations
||SO 162 A & B
|Women: Work and Sport
||SO 169 A
|WGS Studies Internship
||WS 299 A
|WGS Studies Capstone Seminar
||WS 301 A
|WGS Studies Independent Study
||WS 399 A
Please come see one of our directors in DMH 102 (Dr. Orlando) or DMH 227 (Dr. Gudelunas) or email them (firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com) to find out more about the program.
WGSS is pleased to announce that committee member, Emily Orlando, is now co-director of the program! Professor Orlando’s teaching and research interests include 19th- and early 20th-century literature, Victorian culture, women’s studies, African American literature, and the intersections between visual, literary, and popular culture. She has taught courses in American literature, Victorian literature, transatlantic decadence, women’s/gender studies, and the first-year writing sequence.
She is the author of Edith Wharton and the Visual Arts (Choice Outstanding Academic Title 2008), as well as articles that have appeared in the following peer-reviewed journals and books: American Literary Realism; New Voices on the Harlem Renaissance: Essays on Race, Gender, and Literary Discourse; Memorial Boxes and Guarded Interiors: Edith Wharton and Material Culture; Women’s Studies: An Interdisciplinary Journal; Edith Wharton’s The Custom of the Country: A Reassessment; and Edith Wharton in Context (forthcoming, Cambridge University Press).
For an interesting look at the job market, check out this article (with pictures) from the Huffington Post: http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2013/09/16/mens-jobs-need-women_n_3817409.html
“Despite the continued efforts of campaigning agencies and equalities charities to attract more women into traditionally male-dominated fields, the figures are far from encouraging.
According to construction charity, Be On Site, women currently represent only 11% of the construction workforce in the UK, with just 2% of those in manual work. Similarly, less than 9% of engineers in the UK are women and a disappointing 15.5% of the total STEM workforce (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) is female.
The argument that women simply have no desire to break into traditionally male-dominated industries — and therefore it’s their lack of interest that perpetuates the gender disparity — is a flimsy one.
Certainly the roles that have long been regarded as ‘men’s’ jobs can seem prohibitive to a woman. But it is not because they pose a risk to manicured nails. As a female, entering into a world that has a longstanding reputation for misogyny and gender inequality takes guts, determination and tenacity (but not balls, thank you).
If you think this sounds a little hysterical, type ‘female construction worker’ into Google images. There’s certainly no shortage of women in hard hats and tool belts but those high-visibility corsets and micro-bikinis must surely be contravening health and safety regulations.
With such Jurassic attitudes evidently still at work, it is encouraging that this absence of women in great swathes of the country’s top industries is a hot topic for the Government Equalities Office.
Earlier this month Women and Equalities Minister Jo Swinson met with industry experts from the academic and business sector to mark the start of a new focus on getting more women and girls to choose STEM subjects and careers.
Lady Geek, a campaigning agency aimed at making technology more accessible to women, the Women’s Engineering Society and the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics Network were just three of the organisations that joined the discussion around what more can be done to speed up action and encourage more girls and women to take up STEM.
But this discussion is just a small part of the wider campaign that has been gathering momentum, not just within STEM fields, but in many of the most heavily male-skewed industries in the UK.
Mark your calendars, this upcoming event may be of interest to our WGSS students!
On Wednesday, October 2, 2013 at 7:30 p.m., prominent theologian Teresa Berger will deliver Fairfield University’s 13th annual Anne Drummey O’Callaghan Lecture on Women in the Church – a free and public event held in memory of a Norwalk, Connecticut woman who was a lay minister in area Catholic parishes.
Dr. Berger, professor of Liturgical Studies at Yale Divinity School, will give a talk entitled – “Women as Celebrants and Interpreters of Catholic Liturgy: From Sacrosanctum Concilium to Cyberspace.” Taking place at the Quick Center for the Arts, the event is co-sponsored by the O’Callaghan Family, Fairfield University’s Department of Religious Studies and the Center for Catholic Studies.
“This presentation will map the many ways in which both women’s lives and Catholic liturgy have changed significantly over the last fifty years,” said Dr. Berger, whose most recent book is “Gender Differences and the Making of Liturgical History” (Ashgate: Liturgy, Worship and Society, 2011). “It will highlight vibrant gains in these changes as well as some quite remarkable losses. Throughout, we will attend to the immense diversity of women’s voices as they have emerged and made themselves heard with regard to Catholic liturgy.”
Calling all students! The Ella T. Grasso Leadership in Action grant funds young women enrolled full-time in CT colleges & universities who make a difference in their communities. Undergraduate and graduate students are encouraged to apply – the application is due October 1, 2013. Please read below for more information directly from the Connecticut Women’s Hall of Fame website. For more information, please visit http://www.cwhf.org/educational-resources/ella-grasso-leadership-grant .
Ella T. Grasso Leadership in Action Grant Program
In 2011, the Connecticut Women’s Hall of Fame launched the Ella T. Grasso Leadership in Action Grant Program, designed to honor the late Governor Ella Tambussi Grasso and her lifetime of public service and civic engagement. Believing that there is no better way to learn leadership skills than by developing and implementing a project plan and also that young people have the potential to find creative new ways to address community issues and problems, we strive to encourage and applaud their ingenuity. Our goal is to provide opportunities for college students to have real-world leadership-in-training experiences that foster real social change. Grant recipients will design and implement a community action project from start to finish. A faculty advisor/sponsor’s involvement is required, but it is the student who will develop the specifics of the project, outline goals and objectives for its outcomes, put together a plan for its implementation, create budgets and timelines, follow through with the project’s implementation, and report on successes, failures, and the true impact of the project on the community.
Grant(s) will be awarded each fall to young women enrolled at Connecticut colleges or universities to fund or partially fund community action or public service projects. The project must be completed within one year following the grant award. Deadline for submission of applications: October 1.
Young women entering their junior or senior year at a Connecticut college or university are eligible to apply. Second-year students enrolled at two-year community colleges are also eligible. Students enrolled in a graduate program are also eligible to apply. Applicants intending to carry out a community action project in Connecticut during the grant period are eligible to apply for the grant. Applicants are eligible regardless of their primary area of study.
What kinds of projects are eligible?
Any community action, community service, or community outreach project is eligible for consideration. Possible examples include educational programs in the community or on the campus; programs affiliated with a community service/non-profit organization (e.g. women’s shelter, crisis pregnancy center, etc.); literacy projects; summer projects with elementary/middle/high school age students, etc.; public service projects raising awareness for political issues; field studies (for academic credit or otherwise) focusing on an issue affecting the community. Preference will be given to projects focusing on serving women or raising awareness of women’s issues.
We are wrapping up another great year at the WGSS Program! Tonight’s award ceremony will conclude our events for the academic year. Wow, what a busy year!!! We wish the best of luck to our graduates and we look forward to seeing our returning students in the Fall!
This year, the Annual Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies Lucy Katz Award will be presented to Dr. Ellen Umansky
At the award reception, she will be speaking on “Why Gender Matters: Feminist Reconceptualizations of Religion”
Wednesday, May 8, 2013 : 7:30 p.m. at Alumni/ae House
This year the Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies Person of the Year Award is being rededicated to honor Professor Emeritus Lucy Katz in honor of her work as a founder of the Women’s Studies Program (now Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies) and
her longtime work on behalf of women on campus and in the community.
Reservations required. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Senior WGS majors Thomas Grund, Marnie Whalen, Eeica D’Aurora, Anna Wolk and Sarah Joseph presenting their final project on “Majority/Minority: The status of women and sexual minorities on campus.” (And then celebrating after with program director Dr. David Gudelunas). Congratulations seniors!
Join us as we celebrate our graduating seniors!
On Thursday, May 2nd at 5PM in BCC 200, WGSS Capstone students will be presenting their capstone research on “Majority/Minority: The status of Women and Sexuality Minorities on Campus.”
We hope to see you there!
It was standing room only as Dr. Alphonso, Dr. Arendt, Dr. Lawrence and Dr. Orlando talked about their current academic projects at last week’s “In the Works” Panel discussion, part of Women’s History Month here at Fairfield University. Attendees listened to the professors, from a range of disciplines, discuss topics ranging from Edith Wharton to roller derby.
Join WGSS for a faculty panel discussion about current research projects:
Professor Alphonso – “Family, Politics and the State”
Professor Arendt – “A Rink of One’s Own: Gender, Sport and the Alter Ego in Contemporary Roller Derby”
Professor Lawrence: “Jarena Lee’s Calling: Biography and Storytelling”
Professor Orlando: “Edith Wharton, Women and the Politics of Representation”
All are welcome! Refreshments will be served. BCC 206
Women’s Day, April 4, BCC Lower Level – 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m
Come discover and celebrate women, past and present, who have found their identity through imagination and innovation! Enjoy table presentations from several Fairfield University clubs, arts and crafts, baked goods, a Bead-for-Life jewelry sale, performances throughout the day, and much more!
At 6:00pm, in BCC 206, be sure to check out “In the Works,” WGS Faculty Talk about their Current Projects. In honor of Women’s History Month, WGS faculty will share their current research pertaining to women, gender and sexuality.
All WGSS Minors are invited to submit a research paper for the Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies Award. This award is coordinated by the Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies Program to recognize outstanding work. Please follow the steps outlined below.
Submit a Research Paper at least 2000 words in length on a topic in any of the following areas: women’s studies, feminist theory, gender studies, queer theory.
Add a cover sheet that should include the following information:
–year of expected graduation
–campus or off-campus telephone number
–campus box number
–the course for which the paper was written, the semester the course was taken, and the name of the professor.
Please prepare the paper as follows:
— Put the title of your paper at the top of the first page
–put the title and page number on all subsequent pages
–type and double-space the paper
–do NOT put your name on any page except the cover sheet.
Submit two (2) copies of your paper (with the cover sheets attached) to Dr. Colleen Arendt’s mailbox, DMH 232.
DEADLINE: 4:00 pm Tuesday, April 2, 2013
Contact Dr. David Gudelunas, Director of WGSS, with questions.
In honor of Women’s History Month, WGS faculty will share their current research pertaining to women, gender and sexuality. Refreshments will be provided! Join us on April 4, BCC 206 at 6:00 p.m. The following professors will be sharing on their latest research:
Gwendoline Alphonso: “Family, Politics and the State”
Colleen Arendt: “A Rink of One’s Own: Gender, Sport and the Alter Ego in Contemporary Roller Derby”
Anna Lawrence: “Jarena Lee’s Calling: Biography and Storytelling”
Emily Orlando: “Edith Wharton, Women and the Politics of Representation”
Sponsored by the Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies Program.
Five Fairfield University professors who visited Havana in January will give their multidisciplinary impressions of contemporary Cuba in “Havana Today: Between Continuity and Change” on Thursday, March 21, 2013, at 6 p.m. The discussion, which is free and open to the public, will take place in the University’s DiMenna-Nyselius Library multimedia room.
Faculty participating in the talk will be: Joy Gordon, Ph.D., professor of politics; Gisela Gil-Egui, Ph.D., assistant professor of communication; Olivia Harriott, Ph.D., associate professor of biology; Ania Aksan, Ph.D., assistant professor of economics; and Giovanni Ruffini, Ph.D., associate professor of history.
Light refreshments will be provided.
The event is part of the University’s two-year focus on Cities. It is sponsored by the Humanities Institute of the College of Arts & Sciences; the Latin American & Caribbean Studies Program; the Public Lectures & Events Committee; the Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Program; and the departments of Philosophy, Communication, Biology, Economics, and History.
Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies Alumnae Panel
Kelley Center Presentation Room – Tonight!
Tonight we kick off Women’s History Month with the Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies Program Alumnae Career Panel Discussion!
Hear about life after Fairfield as some of our recent graduates share their experiences in the working world. The discussion will be moderated by Professor Orlando. Refreshments will be provided.
Join us for the Screening of White Rainbow
Thursday, March 7th at 6pm, BCC Lower Level
The holy city of Vrindavan India, also known as the “City of Widows” harbors nearly 20,000 widows who are abandoned on the streets and flock there in the hopes of finding “Moksha” – Salvation. In Indian society, widows are stigmatized and maligned. Learn about a little known yet urgent subject and help bring social justice for women and societies worldwide!
For more information on the film, visit http://asiasociety.org/policy/social-issues/human-rights/mohini-giri-indias-voice-voiceless
Brought to us by the Montage Initiative; Center for Faith and Public Life; International Studies; Peace and Justice Studies; Sociology and Anthropology; Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies; Model United Nations Club
The six Core Pathways represent different ways in which you can give shape and trajectory to your experiences at Fairfield, both in and out of the classroom. Through reflecting on the Pathways in a way that incorporates your own interests, passions and academic goals, you will be working to discover your way and deepen your experience through your four years at Fairfield University.
In your E-portfolio entry, present through words, pictures, videos, assignments or projects — or other artifacts and mementos from your year thus far — how the variety of experiences you’ve had both in and out of the classroom have helped you to understand that one of the six Pathways may represent a fruitful, rewarding thematic guide for appreciating your progress so far at Fairfield, and for planning your next couple of years here.
The “Global Citizenship” core is about recognizing and respecting the identities and dignities of all people as well as the planet we all live on. This is a perfect fit for WGSS!
Support WGSS and win $500!
Expect a lot of great things coming from Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies this semester! Check back often as we are planning our annual Women’s Month events as well as other events. New courses are also in the works for the next academic year so it is an exciting time to be involved with WGSS!
Here’s an interesting link to get the semester started and to get us thinking about gender: Nepal to issue “third gender” citizenship.
Join Dr. David Gudelunas, chair of WGSS, on Wednesday night at “Talk about communication: 25 years of communication at Fairfield University” The event will take place at the Dolan School of Business Dining Room at 7:30PM.
Dr. Gudelunas will discuss communication taboos, specifically the intersection of media, culture and sex.
Dr. Sallyanne Ryan will reflect on 25 years of communication at Fairfield.
Dr. Qin Zang will discuss psychological reactance and verbal defensiveness in the workplace: “the effects of perceived threat and interactional justice in supervisor requests.”
Dr. Michael Pagano will discuss a collaborative approach: “getting interpersonal with simulation pedagogy.”
This lecture is funded by a grant from the Humanities Institute of the College of Arts & Sciences Part 2 in the series in Spring 2013.
Come out and support WGSS!
Come meet the faculty of WGSS, have your questions answered and learn about our upcoming courses at the Majors/Minors Fair in BCC Oak Room from 11am to 3pm. We hope to see you there!!
This week, some of America’s biggest and best known corporations, including Walt Disney Co., J.P. Morgan Chase & Co., and consumer products giant Unilever, will descend on Boston to recruit students from the nation’s top business schools.
The companies will promote industry trends and career opportunities. And they will also highlight policies that make their workplaces friendly, comfortable, and inclusive for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender employees.
On Thursday, more than 1,000 MBA candidates, corporate executives, and recruiters will gather at the Seaport Hotel and World Trade Center for the annual Reaching Out LGBT MBA Conference, which aims to connect lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender, or LGBT, business school students with some of the nation’s leading companies. Now in its 14th year, the conference has grown from 150 students networking over boxed lunches at Harvard Business School to a three-day event with high-profile sponsors, a sign that corporate America is more progressive than the public sector when it comes to lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender rights.
The first major public company to offer health benefits to gay and lesbian couples, in 1991, was Lotus Development Corp., a Cambridge software company — more than a decade before Massachusetts became the first state to legalize same-sex marriage. Nearly all of the 636 major companies surveyed this year by the Human Rights Campaign — 99 percent — prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation; 80 percent forbid discrimination based on gender identity. Yet there are no federal laws, and only a handful of state laws, that do the same.
“There’s really no question that corporate America is leading the charge in the area of workplace fairness,” said Paul Guequierre, spokesman for the Human Rights Campaign, an LGBT civil rights organization in Washington. “In 29 states you can be fired from a job for being gay, and in 34 states for being transgender. That sad fact makes corporate nondiscrimination policies vital for LGBT workers.”
Executives say their companies haven’t put these policies in place for altruistic reasons. They are hungry for talent and want to attract the best and the brightest. In addition, labor specialists say, a diverse workforce contributes to a company’s profitability. A variety of experiences and opinions leads to a more well-rounded, creative process, and can appeal to a wider array of consumers.
Like many people in the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community, Hannah Yankelevich, who will graduate with an MBA from Dartmouth College next year, said she’ll consider how companies treat LGBT workers when she weighs offers. She’s thinking about returning to General Mills in Minneapolis, where she interned over the summer, because the chief executive announced that the company opposed an amendment recognizing marriage only as the union between a man and a woman.
“I wouldn’t work for a company that didn’t offer a supportive environment for the LGBT community, ” said Yankelevich, 27, one of the organizers of the conference.
State Street Corp. is attending the Reaching Out conference for the first time this year as it seeks to further expand its recruiting into minority and underrepresented communities. The Boston financial services giant attends conferences held by the National Black MBA Association and the Association of Latino Professionals in Finance and Accounting for the same reason.
“Were not going to advance State Street unless we have access to the best talent, and that’s by offering an environment where employees can bring their whole selves to the workplace,” said Mike Scannell, head of talent acquisition and global inclusion. “For us to not be open to individuals regardless of their background is really prohibiting us from getting access to the best resources and talent that are out there.”
Along with policies prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, State Street has an employee group for LGBT workers and offers domestic partner health insurance, including transgender benefits for prescriptions and laboratory tests. The company is considering covering sex change surgery.
Mike Harrington, vice president and senior counsel at State Street, said he probably wouldn’t have come to State Street from a Boston law firm in 1998 if the company wasn’t welcoming to gay employees. In fact, Harrington told a headhunter that he wouldn’t apply for an opening at one New England company because it didn’t offer health insurance for same-sex partners. But it’s more than the benefits that have kept him at State Street. He feels comfortable plastering his office with pictures of his two sons and partner of 12 years.
“My family is the same as everyone else’s,” he said. “For me, it’s more about being in a place where I talk about Dave in the same way that the woman who sits next to me talks about her husband.”
Antonio Gomez-Lopez, a second-year student at the MIT Sloan School of Management, feels the same way. Gomez-Lopez, who helped organize the Reaching Out conference, said a company’s LGBT policies play a crucial role in deciding where he will work.
“I don’t want to hold a double life,” he said.