On Wednesday, Sept. 14, the Department of Languages and Literature and the Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Program hosted a roundtable discussion entitled “Women Writer’s Post-Roe v. Wade: Teaching and Learning in a New Environment.”
In a crowded classroom, beneath fluorescent lights, people gathered to discuss the overturning of Roe v. Wade, which split the nation in June. Bodily autonomy was outlawed overnight, striking fear into the souls of many Americans–especially women.
The roundtable discussion provided professors and students a safe place to share their stories and opinions and was facilitated by Profs. Emily Bryan, Claire Marrone and Nidhi Shrivastava and student Jill Amari, who is a Co-Editor of Audrey’s Corner and the Chief Copyeditor of The Spectrum. In this article, we offer a continuation of the roundtable environment in creative writing.
“The Formality of Hypocrisy” by Haley Alvarado
Falling into a portrait of grief. Seven years too late and seven years too soon. The fate of women before and those born to be bystanders of the ledgers written by men. To speak on the duality of my love for my gender is strange. This love is not simple. In its wake leaves expectation. I’m supposed to know better, yet not enough to have authority over my body.
Torn apart by educators till it felt like my seat could not hold me close enough to bury me in nothingness. For dressing in skinny jeans with rhinestones in elementary. Curated on exhibit and asked if I just wanted the attention of boys before even truly knowing what a crush indicated. My prepubescent body was studied by older individuals for wearing the items sold in the kid section at GAP and Old Navy. There was nothing dirty with the clothes but the young ballerina’s body for having any trace of femininity.
I wanted to purge myself till I condemned myself to conform. Hated for smiling, hated for not smiling, hated for being pretty, hated for nothing. I hoarded my emotions, searching for peace of mind. Clothing, threads, became another way for civilization to fill my face with contradictions. I glimpse myself in the paint underneath my nail beds with their eyes. Now, they stay stained.
The formality of hypocrisy as a woman is that the stench of it lingers on your skin no matter what you do.
more by Julianna Rezza
i am most fixated on what is inside.
that’s not to say
the war on external perfection
is not a just one,
because it is.
we spend in our bodies–
we must spend in our bodies.
trapped by the unachievable…
is one worth fighting.
and i fight it every day.
but i am fighting to survive.
not a lieutenant,
not a general,
not shouting directions with a voice full of raspy confidence.
i am a soldier–
so my place is different.
it is across from a girl folding a napkin
to a thousand little pieces
in cheesy diner lighting
after only eating a salad.
it is behind the camera
telling the girl with
a palm placed over her stomach
that everyone is looking at her smile.
it is holding a pen–
getting every gorgeous emotion in words
reading a novel
absorbing and shredding a film that
focuses right in between the chin and the belly button
but only on the woman.
it is finishing a dissertation
with sweat in between my knees and underneath the wire of my bra,
but spending the extra hour helping someone else.
because i’m fighting the war of the inside.
the trillions of firing thoughts
the pints of imagination.
every emotional nuance
every fleck of brilliant yellow light
floating in the body of every girl.
i’m fighting to prove
that i am more than my curls,
because i am filled with everythings.
bad everythings and good everythings and
worried everythings and determined everythings. with love everythings and fear everythings.
i’m made of tiny villages that are fully functional
quaint cafes and strawberry fields.
i’m made of wastelands
of places no one should walk.
i’m made of moments and moments and moments
of knots and stretches
of sins and triumphs
of every second evolution toiled
to get me here.
i’m made of that.
so while i will fight the good fight–
with mud on my face
and rage in my bones
to prove that perfection of the body
is all relative.
i am also cross legged in a circle,
a pencil lightly draped in my hand
explaining to everyone and no one,
perhaps too emphatically,
that the exterior is just that.
and i am–
we all are–