Women's, Gender, & Sexuality Studies
at Miami University
Student Profile: Roselyn Banda
Having started Women's Studies as just a concentration, I discovered that WMS is a program that one wouldn't want to miss.
Why did you choose Women's Studies?
Issues concerning women have always been of interest to me. I was excited when I discovered that it was possible to study more about women together with my education major. Having started Women's Studies as just a concentration, I discovered that WMS is a program that one wouldn't want to miss.
I delved deeper, not only into women's issues, but in ways of looking at the world through different women's lenses. It developed my critical thinking aspect, and I discovered that the Truth, with a capital 'T', is just an illusion. As an African woman, I have my ways, which are different from any other woman's around the world, but together, we must coexist.
How have WMS classes impacted your overall Miami experience?
I started the Women's Studies Program backwards, by taking WMS 602 in the spring of 2008. The program opened up my understanding of theory and methodology in the study of women's issues. I was introduced to Kimberlie Crenshaw's term, "intersectionality." Although the term applies exclusively to American women and their differences, to me, it was an introduction to the difference that all women, within America and abroad, have.
I developed an interest in how African women would define their feminism methodologically. In so doing I tried to define parameters that have limited the focus on African women's activism and scholarship. While I acknowledged commonalities for all women along issues of sex, work, and/or violence, I was more interested in the differences, a multicultural approach that allows women to speak in their own culturally different voices.
Are there particular classes, encounters, experiences as part of your WMS major that have enhanced your leadership, interpersonal relations, and/or career-related skills?
Women's Studies courses have opened my eyes to appreciate and respect differences. In Zimbabwe I took gender studies, but was mainly focused on the problems faced by African women. Due to the global approach in Miami's program, I now have an appreciation of the concerns, hopes and struggles of different women in different parts of the world.
I have also realized that the talk of the binary opposition — good-bad, right-wrong, true-false — emanate from the fact that we expect people to behave, believe and act like us. When they do not, we label them as the opposite of what we believe in.
I had never taken time to question why Muslim women wear veils. In my view, as much as in many others, it's a sign of oppression, an ancient life, and very sad and pathetic. In appreciating differences, I ask if Muslim women need saving, if they have no power to 'emancipate' themselves, or if they view the veil as bad as most of us do.
Would you recommend WMS to your peers? If so, why?
The Women's Studies Program should be a must for anyone interested in understanding the strength and capacity that women have in changing the world. In my disorientation caused by cultural shock, I was able to reclaim myself through the WMS courses. I discovered a niche, where I felt accepted as a woman, and I accepted a part that I hold within myself.