I consider myself a strong writer in academic spaces. Traditional academic writing, with a thesis and transitions and a few buzzwords like “hegemony,” “dichotomy,” or “postmodern” is something I can handle. I love writing essays—so much so that I am, perhaps somewhat insanely, choosing to pursue a senior thesis. But when it comes to the narrative style of blogging, I am both less experienced and less confident. Attempting to blog for the first time, I sat cross-legged in bed, repeatedly typing and deleting single words and phrases as I struggled to articulate my thoughts.
Thankfully, I found guidance and inspiration in my fellow women (for about the millionth time). I scrolled through the writing of past Moxie cohorts, and was struck by a post from this time last year. In her post “Who Am I?”, Kelly Atherton wrote about her natural science background and consuming Pre-Med identity. She explained that she had never identified as a feminist, coming from a largely Christian community and rarely discussing issues of sex or reproduction. She (bravely) shared comments from close friends that dismissed her budding feminist beliefs and her need to conceal the work she would be doing.
At first glance, Kelly and I could not be more different. My name is Anna Katz, and I am a rising senior who has spent three years avoiding hard science classes like the plague. I am pursuing a double major in African and African American Studies and Global Health, with a somewhat accidental but altogether fascinating minor in History. Even outside of my specific areas of study, my courses are firmly rooted in the social sciences and humanities: Sociology, Public Policy, Gender, Sexuality, and Feminist Studies, Literature. I strongly and proudly claim Feminist as an identity, an assertion made easier by my upbringing in a diverse and very liberal suburb of Cleveland, and I was eager to tell anyone and everyone about my upcoming summer of reproductive health work.
But in reality, Kelly and I have much in common. Like Kelly, I will be working at Choices Women’s Medical Center, where I’m sure she left big shoes to fill. Though I don’t plan to pursue medicine, I too believe in health as a human right and am committed to working toward equity of health and care. I am specifically interested in sexual and reproductive health and rights, as well as the ways in which the various facets of our identity—gender, race, employment, class, citizenship, sexuality, ability—shape our health and access. I hope to build a career in the realm of women’s health and reproductive justice, and I am eager to learn through my work at Choices.
I can also relate to Kelly’s hope to deepen her understanding of feminism and its importance through Moxie. Despite my robust feminist identity, I want to challenge myself to become more intersectional in my feminism, rejecting the exclusivity of white feminism and intentionally taking a more nuanced approach to equality. In the words of Flavia Dzodan, “My feminism will be intersectional or it will be bullshit!” I aim to critically analyze my own behavior and complicity in systems of subjugation, and to embrace the discomfort that can come with such confrontations of privilege and oppression.
I have also recently been thinking about the fluidity of sexuality and gender, and how my feminism can recognize and include these spectrums. By summer’s end I hope to have expanded my understanding of womanhood, reaching beyond mere bodies and genitalia for a more comprehensive definition of the power that is woman. I want to learn more about how the feminist movement has been exclusive of trans and non-binary folk, and blend my feminist values with a larger understanding of gender fluidity.
As I begin this adventure of a summer and embrace the challenges that come with it (blogging included), I am grateful for my wonderful support systems and strong communities of women. And I am especially lucky to be adding my Moxie cohort and the generations of budding leaders before us. A special thanks to Kelly for her blog inspiration—I’m sure you crushed the MCAT.