Women's and Gender Studies Conference

People from various colleges attend the 2019 Transforming Gender and Society Conference organized by the ISU Women's and Gender Studies Program held in the Memorial Union on April 6. The conference touched on topics such as gender, sexuality, race, ethnicity and age.

In the last session of the day at the Transforming Gender and Society Conference on Saturday, students from across Iowa presented on a variety of topics including human trafficking, gender in the Olympics and different feminist organizations.

The first presenter of the session was Antonio Ball, an Iowa State student. Ball is a sophomore in sociology, who shared his research regarding rape and human trafficking as a tactic of war.

His presentation surrounded the idea of during a time of war or global crisis, there is a spike in human trafficking and rape.

“Often times, sexual assault in situations of crisis is seen as a dynamic of obedience and power,” Ball said.

The next presenter was Madeline Peak from Grinnell College who discussed the correlation between gender in the Olympics and gender in society.

“Olympic rules equal society rules,” Peak said.

In her presentation, Peak told the audience of gender verification tests in the Olympics and how these tests uphold stereotypes of female capability.

“Gender verification tests were portrayed as being a benefit to women, when in reality it was used to uphold stereotypes of female strength, and made women far more likely to be disqualified,” Peak said.

Peak went on to discuss the societal implications of the rules set by the Olympics.

“When the solution is coming from the oppressor, it is likely not in the interest of helping the oppressed,” Peak said.

The next presenter was Carolina Ramos, a junior at Drake University, who spoke of human trafficking and its effects on immigrant women.

“In order to invoke change, we must have hard discussions. This is one,” Ramos said.

Ramos told the audience of how the laws enforced in the United States to prevent human trafficking can have a negative impact on immigrant women.

“Men at the border have used their power and privilege to take advantage of women. Migrant women are seen as illegal and not protected under U.S. law,” Ramos said.

Ramos gave suggestions to what she sees as the solution to helping migrant women.

“If we really want to cause change, we need to prioritize survivors,” Ramos said.

The next presenter was Hannah Bernhard from Loras College. Bernhard delivered a speech on her research of the Third World Women’s Alliance, a revolutionary socialist movement in the 1970’s. The TWWA had a newspaper publication called Triple Jeopardy, of which Bernhard conducted her research from.

“I analyzed every article and picture and collected data on what was most discussed by the group. The most common topics were sexism, racism and imperialism,” said Bernhard.

This session closed out the 2019 Transforming Gender and Society Conference. The conference welcome students, community members, and staff from all over the state who shared experiences and offered advice.

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