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Friday, April 24th

I Met God and She’s Black: A Perspective in Womanist Theology

Kenashia Thompson, Winthrop University

Womanism, an emergent voice for African American women, is defined as a social theory based on the history and everyday experiences of black women. The term, first coined by Alice Walker, later led Katie Canon to found a new paradigm of thought for black women’s religious experiences known as Womanist Theology. In this paper, the goal is to define Womanist Theology as a religious conceptual framework that considers, yet revises, traditional practices and interpretations of the Bible to empower and liberate African American women. It will argue, by viewing historically black denominations, that Womanist Theology can be visualized as a colloquy that allows for black women to embrace a religion, a Jesus, a God, and a lifestyle that is free from oppression and suppression of white supremacy and patriarchy. Due to the problems of racism, classism, patriarchy, and sexism, this research will also argue that the Womanist biblical approach provides an adequate solution to the problems of being black, female and Christian in America.

Subverting the Patriarchy: Artistic Manipulations of the Female Trope in Weimar Germany

Martha Whiteman, Winthrop University

Gendered social anxieties prevailed during the Weimar Republic as women gained the right to vote. With the rapid departure of men from Germany at the onset of World War I, women were thrust into the public sphere to fulfill necessary labor roles. This cross-over from the domestic to the public sphere incited anxiety in the male population, who felt a loss of control and dominance in an otherwise patriarchal society. In reaction to this fear, men began to both physically and societally exert their dominance over women through the science-based process of classification. By breaking the collective idea of women down into categories, men created a distinction between their idea of a woman and all those who deviated from it. The avant-garde male artists were especially influential in German society, as they visually depicted the gendered changes around them. By depicting women as subjects of these classifications, they effectively reinforced these classifications and created concrete tropes. The four main tropes that this research will address are the Neue Frau, the Garçonne, the Prostituierte, and the Mutter. In looking closely at these classifications, this research intends to reveal the flawed misconceptions of female autonomy and sexuality by visually comparing male and female artistic renderings of women in the Weimar Republic. Through more intimate and sympathetic renderings of female subjects, women artists utilized stereotypical female classifications as a way to subvert the male-created trope, painting a more complex and authentic picture of female sexuality and autonomy in the Weimar Republic.

The Representation of Female African American College Students on Television: A Content Analysis of A Different World and Grownish

Monejah Black, Winthrop University

This research examines the portrayal and representation of the African American female college experience on television sitcoms. A content analysis was conducted on two situational comedy television shows, A Different World and Grownish, coding the comparative aspects of each show to include: the depiction of the female lead, the predominant theme of each episode, resolution of conflict, perceived realism, and overall tone. The study suggests that though Grownish addresses diverse issues faced by millennial students, the portrayal of these issues dilutes the overall message, while A Different World succinctly illustrates the problems students face. Results and implications will be discussed.

Theorizing Masculinity in a Post-Patriarchal Society

Richard Lyda, Winthrop University

Faculty Mentor: M. Gregory Oakes, Ph.D.

This essay explores the ideas of gender construction, performance, and subversion, with special attention to masculinity and its relation to patriarchy. Specifically, this essay addresses the question of whether masculine gender identities could continue to be constructed in a post patriarchal world. By engaging with Simone de Beauvoir’s response to biological determinism, I will explain why biology alone is not a sufficient explanation for masculine identity and its association with male bodies. By exploring drag and Judith Butler’s performative theory of gender, I will explain the causal relation that exists between discourse, an idea forwarded by Michel Foucault, and gender construction, and also potential means of subversion of such a discourse. Together, these ideas will demonstrate how, absent patriarchy, new ideas of gender and its social significance will emerge. Though I am not able to predict the exact details of a post-patriarchal world and give a definitive answer to the above-posed question, I can say that, absent patriarchy, gender identities and their construction would be nearly unrecognizable compared to their current schema.

Women's Labor Force Participation and Occupational Prestige in the United States: 1968 – 2018

Katelyn Watford, Winthrop University

This research centers on the evolution of U.S. women’s labor force participation and the prestige of their occupations from 1968 to 2018. Occupational prestige qualifies the social standing of each occupation in the labor force. Previous literature recognizes that women’s labor force participation has significantly increased since the late 1960s due to cultural and historical changes, such as the Civil Rights Movement and the prevalence of war in the United States. However, few sources in the literature focus on the prestige of the occupations that women held, which raises the question of how the occupational prestige of women’s employment has changed since 1968. Based on the literature, it is expected to find that white women are more likely than non-white women to increase their participation in higher prestige occupations, that married women are more likely to participate than single women, and that the presence of children under the age of six hinders the participation of women in higher prestige occupations. This paper uses Annual Social and Economic Supplement data and prestige scales to analyze changes in the relative importance of occupations that women have held over time. Results indicate that, during the period covered in this analysis, women’s participation in the labor force and their position in the occupational structure have improved substantially, and that these trends are partially explained by their investment in education. However, the rearing of children and household maintenance activities still slow the development of their potential.