Gervais Marsh '15
I would say I sort of fell into majoring in Gender and Women’s Studies (GWS). I took my introductory course because it was one of the few classes still available right before the add/drop deadline. I quickly realized just how pertinent all the readings seemed, not only to my own experiences, but society around me. Majoring in GWS gave me the opportunity to be a part of a community of students and professors who are constantly pushing themselves to engage with the world in more thoughtful, intersectional and intentional ways. My training in GWS serves as a constant reminder to question my own positionality and privileges. I have been fortunate to learn from some of the most brilliant Women of color professors, who laid my intellectual groundwork in Black and WOC feminism, queer of color critique, and the praxis of feminist theory in activist movements.
Majoring in GWS is truly interdisciplinary, as I drew from work in Africana Studies, Sociology, Media Studies, History and Chicana/o-/Latina/o Studies among numerous other subject areas. For me, there is a call to action in GWS, pushing me to work towards centering the experiences of those who face marginalization. My growth in the department developed through a feminist pedagogy that questions power dynamics, values lived-experiences, and recognizes the importance of difference. My GWS classes challenged norms, pushed boundaries of thought and have been a space to engage with some of the most radical students I met while at Pomona College. I’m pretty sure the world would be a much better place if everyone took at least one GWS class.
Angellica Telles '15
I first heard about the GWS-History dual major during my second semester at Pomona through my first-year ID1 teacher. I have always enjoyed stories, which is why history interested me so much, but I felt a need to study something that would allow me to make tangible change. Looking at the world through a gendered lens allowed me to make sense of my own experience as a woman of color, and the critical thinking skills I honed pushed me to ask questions about things that I was taught to accept. The GWS major is set up in a way that allowed me to take advantage of the consortium and all its amazing professors. GWS pushed me to take courses in different disciplines and this has helped me see the ways in which gender, race, ability, age, and nationality play a role in world.
GWS constantly challenged me to delve deeper into the root of an issue. I would never trade in the hours of trying to understand theory, because the moments when I made a breakthrough in my thinking, my friends’ understanding of the world, or saw the connection of another’s struggle with my own…well, those moments are priceless. My hope is that I will remain ethical in my work, hopeful about the future, and strong in the struggle.
Jett Bachman ‘15
During my first semester at Pomona, I took a class with Rita Roberts called “Black Intellectuals and the Politics of Race.” It was the first time I had ever heard the word “intersectionality,” and it was mind-blowing to suddenly have a term to describe something I knew but had not previously been able to put into words. I think much of my feminist education has felt empowering to me precisely because it has given me tools to talk about how I experience the world and how/why other people experience the world differently. One of the main reasons I chose to major in Gender & Women’s Studies is that I felt like the subject matter would affect my life whether or not I chose to study it formally.
While our department is smaller than most, the major is truly interdisciplinary. This gives students freedom and independence through the opportunity to tailor the major to their interests. I have taken GWS classes cross-listed with History, Africana Studies, English, Chicana/o-Latina/o Studies, and Sociology. To me, feminist study is essentially the study of oppression and resistance to oppression. The interdisciplinarity of the department mirrors the idea that feminist studies is not about focusing on a single issue through a single lens, but about learning to critically analyze the interlocking systems of power in our world.