One of the most controversial subjects discussed in this country is that of abortion. Although I came to think that most people were pretty liberal on the subject, a lot of the newspaper articles I’ve read say otherwise. I also had to remind myself that I was reading newspapers from the late 70s, not too long after Roe v. Wade. They make for an interesting read.
I’ve been looking at other colleges and their Gender and Women’s Studies collections on their library pages to see what I can produce in terms of a “guide” to the WMU Archives. As a GWS major I have done so much research for my classes, but a lot of that research was mostly done with an academic mindset and not really thinking about how public activism may have affected the lives of everyday women. Or what women in a local setting have been doing to empower other women. Published authors that most feminist theory revolves around: Lorde, De Beauvoir, and Friedan just to name a few. These and other feminist theorists have helped shape the way we look at and analyze feminism from certain perspectives, but from the library websites I’ve looked at, including WMU’s you’re mostly getting the formal, academic standpoint of feminism, which is what we need for our discussions on theory. But what about the private lives of women? What were they reading in newspapers, and how were they presented in yearbooks, and what sort of personal obstacles did a young woman face in her college years? These are some questions I’m looking to answer while I am interning at the WMU Archives. Being here is different than other internships because it’s almost like an independent study. I’m interacting with text instead of people.
I also have to remember that today’s definition of feminism that includes intersectionality is far different than in the past. I’m reminded when I look at a WMU yearbook from the 1800s that I definitely won’t be seeing any people of color *laughs* but that is part of the history of our country unfortunately.
The notes that I take on the extensive amount of documents I will encounter during my time here will hopefully give the next GWS student a slightly easier time looking through historical records as they relate to feminist research
After completing my last week at the Kalamazoo Gay Lesbian Resource Center and reflecting on my experience, I could not be more satisfied with my time there. I have grown in so many ways because of this internship. Gender and Women’s Studies encourages students to use a feminist lens and values and I did just this. It is easy to observe the inequalities that the LGBT community faces, but what is in the media is only the tip of the ice berg. There are so many deeper issues within the community that I was able to observe through my internship. Fortunately Kalamazoo is very diverse and has supporters for the LGBT community, but there are still many people and the government holding them back from achieving equality. One of the first things I learned was that people in Michigan can be denied housing and fired for being gay. I knew that I was not the only person unaware of these laws and felt compelled to tell others. This internship has taught me how important knowledge is and being active in your community is to create change. There would not have been ordinances passed in the surrounding townships without all the help from the community members coming together. The Resource Center strives to help anyone in need and creates events to bring everyone together. Every community needs a center like this to help the LGBT community and help reduce inequalities.
Going forward, I will continue to use the skills I obtained through this internship and spreading the things I learned. I now know of resources that are helpful to the LGBT community and feel my role as an ally has strengthened because of my experiences. This internship has helped me grow as a person and use my Gender and Women’s Studies skills in real world settings.