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Guest speaker travels for female empowerment

The Women’s and Gender Studies Program presented “Building Bridges and Swimming Upstream: Chronicles of a Feminist Peace and Justice Activist” Wednesday in Jennett Lecture Hall.

Guest speaker, Dr. Kathryn L. Norsworthy, Ph.D., works as a Counseling Psychologist and Professor at Rollins College in Winter Park, Florida. Dr. Norsworthy is an activist for the rights of the LGBT community. She is also a successful author.

Her speech focused on the power of the feminist movement and the role that women are often associated with in society.

Focusing on the terms “privileged” and “oppression”, students were asked to elaborate on what those words meant to them. Many different responses were given for the word oppression including “pushing people down”, “hierarchies” and “socially constructed barriers.”

Dr. Norsworthy went in depth about each of these responses using the role of minorities in society. The facts that we have had only one black President and no female presidents are just a few of the many examples she used. She also explained how there were nowhere near as many females holding positions that the males in society hold.

While students were elaborating on these issues in our own country, Dr. Norsworthy began to explain the similarities of feminists and women of other countries. She explained that, although it may come in different forms, oppression was shared in all cultures.

This is why she travels and participates in the “borders crossings” program.

“I have been traveling to Southeast Asia for about 15 years,” Dr. Norsworthy said. “I would categorize everything I do as peace building. The purpose of the presentation was for me and for any of us from the U.S. to become more aware of the power and privilege we hold and what we symbolize when we go to work in other parts of the world. We also must realize that there are many ways of thinking and that we all something to offer from our own experiences and our own knowledge.”

Students who attended the lecture gave their take on the as well.

“I thought it was amazing,” Alvinette Patterson, a senior sociology and anthropology major, said. “Last year I was the main organizer for the Vagina Monologues, so seeing feminism talked about in a positive light makes me so happy.”

The lecture seemed to influence everyone in some way or another. Dr. Norsworthy was grateful for the experience.

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