Women's self empowerment embraced

Marianne Caesar
Staff Writer

At the end of February, the importance of self-love and worth were highlighted through peer education in terms of maintaining healthy eating habits and being supportive of those challenged by eating disorders. The week after, the love carried onward, focusing on how females are represented through the media and how individual perspectives of feminism vary.

March 2, students joined Dr. Judy Halden-Sullivan in watching the documentary “Sexy Baby,” highlighting the media and pop culture’s impact upon women. Gathering in South Village Suites’ Great Room, students discussed how they have been affected by stereotypes of gender and ways in which the media challenges women’s development and growth. The event was hosted through the Housing Department’s programming resource center, Houdini.

“Sexy Baby” follows the lives of three women across the United States, each offering varied perspectives on being female in today’s world, and the factors impacting their identity. The ladies include 12-year-old Winnifred from New York, Nichole from Florida and 22-year-old Laura from North Carolina. Diverse in their backgrounds, these women share the common struggle of society and the thought processes defining women today.

This documentary showcases Winnifred’s journey into adolescence, contrasting with Nichole’s experience as stripper and former adult actress Nakita Kash. In facing the challenges of porn’s expectation toward women, Laura explores her desire for normalcy through receiving a Labiaplasty.

Labiaplasty is surgical reconstruction of a female’s labia, resulting in a change in size or recreation of symmetry. This surgery can be done on its own or coupled with Vaginoplasty, the tightening up of tissues which may have become looser from activities such as birthing. These surgeries have often been modified and expanded, impacted by the media, in order to recreate one’s physical appearances for aesthetic pleasure or unrealistic expectations rather than purpose.

Just as the definition of normalcy varies in physical nature, so it does in lifestyle for these women. They each struggle to fit within the realms of self-love and acceptance in a world with infinite conflicting standards. Formerly known as a porn actress, Nichole “Nakita Kash” placed emphasis on how largely the porn industry places unrealistic expectations in the experience of sexuality and the lack of emotional realism in the acts displayed for the camera.

“I find women wanting to be like Nakita Kash, but Nichole just wants to be like them,” said Nichole. “Adult film actors are just that: They’re actors. They are going above and beyond in a fantasy world, and that is meant for entertainment, not reality. It’s a very competitive industry where everybody is trying to one-up each other, so what you see on camera isn’t what you would experience at home.”

Individuals can further explore the diverse meaning of being a woman through The Learning Institute: Global Well-Being and Social Change. In collaboration with Millersville University’s Departments of Social Work and Art and Design, students are welcomed to submit artistic renditions expressing their definitions of “being a girl.”

The Learning Institute is hosting their 2nd Annual Global Well Being Conference which will focus on the exploitation of women and children (photo courtesy
The Learning Institute is hosting their 2nd Annual Global Well Being Conference which will focus on the exploitation of women and children (photo courtesy

All submissions are to be given in art form and can be submitted to McComsey Building, Room 218A by Apr. 1, 2015. Selected submissions will be available for viewing at a conference to be held at the Ware Center June 11-12, 2015.

This year, the Learning Institute’s 2nd Annual Global Well-Being Conference hosts the theme of the exploitation of women and children. This and other campus events, such as the visit of child sex-trafficking survivor Holly Austin Smith, allow the community to reflect on global problems and create solutions from a local base. Regardless of appearances, all individuals are diverse in thought and being and should be valued as such.