Yale Women's, Gender and Sexuality Studies
Volume 3, Issue 2
spring 2013
Editor, Geetanjali Singh Chanda
Managing Editors, Linda Hase & Craig Canfield
Layout Design, Nick Appleby

PhotoWGSS Chair’s Letter

It's been an exciting spring semester this year, with so much news about gender and sexuality in the media everyday.

As a scholar of South Asia and feminist movements, it was good to see the protests and marches in India that emerged in response to a horrifying sexual assault in New Delhi. The protests succeeded in pushing the Indian government to address crucial shortcomings in the Indian Penal Code with regard to sexual violence. Progress was made, although much remains to be done to ensure that laws adequately impact a changing cultural climate. What remains to be seen is whether the laws will be implemented in a useful way. Will police behavior change so that women are able to go to police stations to complain about sexual violence without fearing either humiliation or additional violence at the hands of police and courts? Will these laws enable all women, rich and poor, to get justice from the courts?

There are also questions about what is going on in the Middle East with regard to uprisings against authoritarian regimes. Women protestors have been molested and attacked in Egypt, while in Syria, the continuing war means that everyone's life has become difficult; a militarized society is not necessarily beneficial to everyone equally.

And in the US, a militarized society is struggling with the issue of gun control. In Connecticut, a new bill has been signed by the Governor, so we have seen real progress on this issue. There is a reason for many of us to push for additional controls since so much intimate violence involves guns and affects women, and especially women of color, young men of color, and the LGBT community in different ways.

Similarly there is progress on some issues. Gay marriage is being debated in the Supreme Court, with new hope that marriage equality may just happen. At the same time, there are new regulations on reproductive rights in many states in the US.

These are just a few of the many issues that focus on gender and sexuality which have been in the news this spring. There is no lack of issues to debate in our classes! In the classroom with Yale's terrific undergraduates we are constantly involved in discussions and examining the issue from all sides. Our discussions are a testimony to why the WGSS Program remains pertinent and important in using a gender and sexuality lens to understand the world.

Two other more Yale related news that I'd like to share with you: we had a successful search for an Assistant Professor. We are so pleased that Vanessa Agard-Jones, an anthropologist working on gender and sexuality in Martinique, will be joining us in Fall 2014. (Read more about her elsewhere in this issue.)

A wonderful alumni group, YaleWomen, that we had introduced you to in the last newsletter convened their inaugural conference in Washington DC in April. Sonia Sotomayor addressed the conference, and I was so pleased to be invited to participate and to attend on behalf of WGSS. Professor Laura Wexler and I were there to share our enthusiasm about WGSS and its students.

This year we are also graduating our largest class of majors in some years: 10 brilliant, passionate students who we have enjoyed working with and who have become important members of the WGSS community. We congratulate them on their achievements and look forward to their accomplishments in years to come.

We were also delighted that one of our alums, Rhiana Gunn-Wright, was the recipient of a Rhodes scholarship. She is the first WGSS major to receive the Rhodes and it is so well deserved. Rhiana will head off to Oxford University to study public policy and we are sure that she is one person who will help make the world a better place for low-income women. (You can read an article from Rhiana elsewhere in this issue.)

As we wind down the spring semester and head to the celebrations of graduation and Commencement, I wish you all a happy spring and summer. I look forward to being back in the fall.

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