Here at Feministing, two of our great loves are academic feminism and young feminists. Now we’re bringing the two together: today’s Academic Feminist column kicks off a series of interviews with students about their college theses or final projects that explore topics related to gender and sexuality. The first interview in our series comes from Marisa Irabli.
Marisa Irabli is a recent Rutgers University and Douglass Residential College graduate (May 2014), having received a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology, with additional concentrations in Women’s and Gender Studies and Women’s Leadership. She is currently pursuing a Master of Arts/Certificate of Advanced Study in School Psychology at Alfred University.
1. What is your final project about?
My final project was a collaborative showcase of student-written theatre pieces portrayed by other students with regards to raising awareness about domestic violence and sexual assault, with the intent to create a safe, cathartic space. Affective Catharsis through Theatre (ACT) was my social action project funded by The Institute for Women’s Leadership (IWL) at Rutgers University (a two-year interdisciplinary program on women’s leadership). Undergraduate students were asked to write cathartically about sexual assault and/or domestic violence in the form of a monologue, 2-5 person scene, or spoken word poem, while other students were to be the actors in the scenes, and it was showcased in the student-run Cabaret Theatre. Every person who saw the show was given a set of private apropos reading material, including contact information and literature on sexual assault and domestic violence.
2. What got you interested in this subject?
After making gender-based violence my field of study at the Institute for Women’s Leadership and after much research, I learned that DV/SA is a serious problem, even at the very-local level. I became interested because I wanted to bring this very taboo subject out into the open.
3. What is the one thing you are most proud of?
I am most proud of the brave writers and actors involved in my show. It’s a tall order to speak out about these issues, and they were able to do it with finesse and sensitivity.
4. What was the most difficult?
The most difficult part was feeling like I helped open a wound to only walk away from it in the end. But I was able to leave everyone involved with contact information about support groups, hotlines, and other facilities to help them along their journey to healing.
5. What is the one piece of advice you’d offer to students who will be working on final papers/projects next year?
Depending on the context of your work and how it engages with the community, the number one priority should be to provide a safe, appropriate space for those involved.
Are you a feminist student? Would you like to be interviewed for the Academic Feminist? Send an email with the subject “Feministing Student Series” to firstname.lastname@example.org. Include in the body of the email your name, your school, your year of graduation, your major, and a one-paragraph description of your paper. Please attach your paper as a word or PDF file. Anyone who is a current college student or has graduated within the last year is eligible.