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 girl with the big gold hoop in her nose, the ugly clogs on her feet, and the nasty woman slogan across her chest for all to see.