Meet Maria Gomez! She majors in cell and molecular biology and French, and wants to be an OB-GYN. She also just came back from Feminist Camp; read about her experience below:
Describe yourself and why you wanted to attend the Feminist Camp:
As a woman in STEM, I can often see the disparity that exists between men and women in these fields. When watching conferences or reading research papers, the pervasiveness of sexism in scientific academia is evident. When volunteering at the emergency department, I have seen patients refuse female doctors. However, despite being greatly affected, women in these fields often have neither the formal background nor the resources to combat this prejudice. I wanted to attend Feminist Camp in order to be better equipped to deal with these situations in my future career and to remove some of the obstacles that stand in the way of female scientists, primarily for women of color.
What were your favorite parts of the conference?
From the moment I arrived in NYC to the moment I left, I absolutely loved every part of Feminist Camp. I was fortunate to visit Vice’s office, to watch a live taping of Democracy Now!, to view the Dinner Party exhibit in the Brooklyn Museum and to have a mini-internship at Planned Parenthood, among many other fantastic opportunities. However, the magic of the whole experience is probably best encapsulated by the afternoon spent in Gloria Steinem’s house listening to Chanel from Ancient Song Doulas. Hearing her speak about reproductive justice, how it encompasses a wide variety of choices, and how it is often not accessible to women of color or gender non-conforming individuals was truly inspiring. As an aspiring OB-GYN, I found her mission to be in direct agreement with what I want to do with my life. She showed me how to integrate my passions in a concrete manner as I seek to advocate for the dignity of women through their healthcare and personal choices.
Highlight any information you learned about reproductive health and reproductive justice:
During the day dedicated to reproductive justice, I was able to truly experience the entire gamut of choices that women have. I visited an adoption agency and learned how they offer support and counseling to the pregnant person so that they can best choose what to do with their future. I learned how to perform an abortion on a papaya, a fruit often used during training due to its similarity in shape to the uterus. We dispelled myths about abortion and were taught how important, yet rare abortion training is for physicians. We also heard from full spectrum doulas, who provide emotional support during adoption, abortion, birth, etc. All these experiences helped to strengthen the beautiful definition of reproductive justice, described by SisterSong as “the human right to maintain personal bodily autonomy, have children, not have children, and parent the children we have in safe and sustainable communities.”
Detail what you learned that you hope to never forget:
This week was a transformative experience that helped me to learn about the strides we have made and the obstacles we still need to remove to influence philanthropy, the career world, reproductive justice, the media, and art as women. I met incredible individuals with powerful stories and missions. However, the most tangible lesson I learned was the strength and power that we have to create change and impact the world as women. With the current administration, it is easy to feel hopeless and defeated when seeing the advances made threatened by politicians. I hope I never forget to be inspired by our strength and the promises that our future has. This will only be possible if we fight together and advocate for our rights and those of other underprivileged communities.
Why should other students attend a Feminist Camp:
Feminist Camp is an invaluable opportunity for anyone interested in promoting women’s rights and serving as an ally for communities whose voices might often be ignored. I believe that spending this week with such a variety of hosts and fellow campers is an eye opening experience that brings a spotlight to our interests, privileges, and shortcomings. As a whole, Feminist Camp helps to narrow and specify our goals as activists while connecting us with organizations and individuals that can support and strengthen our missions.
How did this experience help with your future ambitions?
As I previously mentioned, Feminist Camp helped to motivate and guide me in navigating my future as both an aspiring medicine student and as an advocate for women’s rights. More importantly, it gave me the tools to integrate both of these aspects into a concise mission. After this week, I am more certain than ever of my future career path, and I have been connected with incredible individuals and organizations who can help me promote these goals. Personally, I’m looking forward to working with the local Planned Parenthood and the local chapter of the National Council for Formerly Incarcerated Women and Girls to continue my activism. After all, it is important to take advantage of tools given throughout Feminist Camp and to actively seek the changes that we want to see in society.
Does this sound like something you might be interested in? Tulane undergraduate students can apply to NCI for funding to attend Feminist Camp. Email Betsy Lopez at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Responses have been lightly edited for length and clarity.