Faculty members fight against female oppression

Melina Khan, Staff Writer

Quinnipiac University faculty members are leading the fight against gender-based violence through multidisciplinary work and research efforts.

From professors in the College of Arts and Sciences and the School of Communications to the provost of the university, the issue of gender-based violence is of leading importance in their professional work.

Provost Debra Liebowitz, who has a background working on issues of gender and international politics, said it is not surprising that there are experts in the field across campus.

“Our curriculum deals with very different kinds of issues, so these things are relevant whether you’re talking about healthcare, or the law or literature,” Liebowitz said.

Liebowitz said issues of inequality such as gender are important because it structures our society.

“I think it’s incredibly important to think about the ways in which axes of equality or inequality intersect with categories of identity to shape people’s experiences,” Liebowitz said.

It is important to raise awareness of gender issues to promote change in our community, according to Liebowitz.

“I think it behooves us in the community to work on awareness because it is in part the awareness that is what’s going to allow individuals to change their behavior but also is going to allow others to feel like they have the voice to speak out about what happened,” Liebowitz said.

Anthropology professor Hillary Haldane said her work in the field is important because gender-based violence “is a problem found in every single country on the planet.”

Anthropology professor Hillary Haldane (left) and her two students visited Morocco as part of their research about gender-based violence in 2019. (Courtesy of Hillary Haldane)

According to Haldane, it is necessary to be transparent on these issues in our own community.

“There is a reason all universities have Title IX policies and coordinators,” Haldane said. “And this is a good thing, being transparent about our efforts to end violence will make us eventually a much safer and equitable place for all genders, for all peoples on our campus.”

However, across a nearly 30-year career researching gender-based violence, Haldane said her work has shifted.

“Humans have always had a capacity for violence,” Haldane said. “What is unique about the violence we are confronting today is how it has been shaped by capitalism and colonialism.”

Psychology professor Penny Leisring shared that her work, rooted in issues of domestic violence, has also shifted with the times to extend beyond physical forms of partner violence. For example, she began conducting research studies on cyber forms of abuse in romantic relationships.

Media studies professor Nancy Worthington, who began working on gender issues as part of a larger interest in identity in the media, has also seen gender-based violence change in cyber capacities.

“I think mainstream media has gotten more responsible about its portrayal of (gender-based violence), but there are insular online spaces that condone it in alarming ways,” Worthington said.

Worthington also discussed promoting gender equity at Quinnipiac and beyond.

“It’s really important to be open to learning about experiences that transcend your own and that challenge ways of thinking that seem normal or common sense,” Worthington said.