Retreat considers sexism, gender identity

Joslyn Aguilar
Staff Writer

One of the final sessions of this year’s diversity retreat sessions focused on gender identity, sexism and gender stereotypes.

About 15 community members attended the April 22 event, part of the series put on by the Center of Multicultural Services, which focused this year on justice, diversity and equity.

Gender identity is one’s personal sense of their own gender, whether it is cis, non-binary, trans, fluid or more, and sexism is discrimination based on gender. 

The April 22 Zoom event was led by Daniel Loera, director of multicultural affairs; Misty Levingston, associate director of multicultural affairs and Black student services; and Alexandra Burrel, the University’s chief diversity officer. It broke students into three groups: men; women; and non-binary, gender-fluid or trans. 

Each group was invited to discuss their experiences in an open and honest way.

For the women’s group, Burrel asked the participants questions about their own experiences with gender identity and sexism. She also shared her personal challenges, how as a child she was told she should be washing dishes and playing with dolls, and painting her nails. 

Sarah Chung, sophomore chemistry major, said she has similar experiences. 

“I always get told, ‘Why I don’t know how to cook, or bake,’ as a girl,” Chung said. “I get told, ‘Oh, isn’t that what girls like to do?’ as if there aren’t other hobbies or interests I can enjoy doing.” 

Amnaa Taha, freshman political science major, shared how thankful she was for the retreat and how it benefited her. 

“I really like the openness of the conversation, and how I can talk with people I can relate with in terms of being a woman,” Taha said.

Others agreed.

“I loved today’s discussion,” Chung said. “Especially as a woman of color and as an Asian-American girl, I felt like listening to this topic was aspiring and listening to the others was just amazing.”

After spending time in small discussion groups, participants returned to the full group discussion.

Loera shared the kind of sexism he and other men experienced, how they need to present a strong masculine image absent of emotions, since men are always told, “Boys don’t cry.”

The full group discussion allowed all to have a better understanding of one another’s struggles with gender identity, sexism and gender stereotypes. 

The series’ next session of the diversity retreat will be at 1 p.m. today. 

Joslyn Aguilar can be contacted at joslyn.aguilar@laverne.edu.

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Joslyn Aguilar, a junior communications major, is a staff writer for the Campus Times.

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