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Audre Lorde Scholars Women Symposium

The purpose of the Audre Lorde Scholars Women Symposium is to bring together college women leaders from across the St. Louis region to participate in a half day of interactive workshops, presentations and speakers with a focus on women's issues while amplifying women's voices and stories.

The 2022 Audre Lorde Scholars Women Symposium will be held on Saturday, May 7, from 11 a.m.-2 p.m. in the Busch Student Center St. Louis Room.

Register for the Symposium

Audre Lorde Scholars Program logo

The theme for the 2022 Audre Lorde Scholars Women Symposium is “Who Said It Was Simple? Navigating the 21st Century as Women of Color" and examines challenges faced by women in current times when seen through an intersectional lens of race, gender, sexuality and more.

Empowered women empower women. The Audre Lorde Scholars Women Symposium thus serves as a catalyst for the voices of marginalized women to be amplified. The Symposium has four main goals:

  • To increase awareness and promote discussion on current and ongoing women and gender issues through informative presentations and workshops.
  • To inspire informative engagement with activism that is intersectional in its scope, focus and intention.
  • To build a community that is forged through a sisterhood that recognizes and celebrates the inherent talent and dignity of all that identify as women, especially Women of Color and other marginalized women.
  • To promote the Audre Lorde Scholars Program at SLU.

Events

Please see the ful schedule of events for the 2022 symposium below.

Session 1: 12:30 - 1 p.m.

The Impact of British Colonialism on South Asian Beauty Standards*

Busch Student Center 251A

The ideals of imperialism led to what became the "British Empire," in which Britain, like many other western countries, sought to assert their superiority by conquering lands beyond their own. This led to the pillaging, destruction, and overall ruin of many developing countries and people. Britain, for instance, had control over South Asia, parts of Africa (during the scramble of Africa), parts of China, etc. South Asia, which was known as the British Raj (meaning British Rule) consisted of modern Pakistan, India, and Bangladesh. Through this, they were able to spread their power through their control of natural resources and the people of these countries. Although British Imperialism came to an end in terms of control over the land, its influence never truly did. An instance of this is the struggle of women in South Asia to meet modern beauty standards. From a distant, outside perspective, there is nothing suspicious. But, a closer look reveals the desire for lighter skin, smaller noses, lack of hair, etc. and connects this to how British oppression and influence lead to these ideals. This presentation will tell a story from start to finish, beginning with an understanding of the British Raj, life under imperial rule, to how women suffer due to societal pressure to fit into beauty norms defined by South Asia's oppressed past. South Asia's current issues in furthering British beauty standards will further be discussed, with a possibility of either expanding to other countries/areas of the world or narrowing down to a particular case (to be decided based on research).  

Presenter: Esha Dani (she, hers), Audre Lorde Scholar 

Crisis Pregnancy Centers 

Busch Student Center 251B

The focus of this presentation is to raise awareness on the coercive nature of Crisis Pregnancy Centers (CPCs), which are institutions that purport as legitimate medical facilities, when, in reality, they often don't have a licensed provider in-clinic and don't adhere to evidence based medical practices -- instead relying on religious ideology. The purpose of CPCs is to manipulate pregnant persons to carry their child to term, using tactics like withholding pregnancy test results until the individual agrees to not abort the fetus. One such CPC near SLU, called Thrive, has had a history of their leadership and staff expressing bigoted views, including racism, transphobia, and slut shaming, in addition to victim blaming sexual assault survivors. This presentation will highlight local reproductive resources that offer comprehensive medical options, as well as foster a safe and non-judgmental environment for women of color.  


Presenter: Deepa Shukla (she, hers) and Casey Nichols (they, them) 

The BBL Effect*

Busch Student Center 253D

The BBL effect is a viral trend on TikTok created by Antoni Bumba to the song “Knock Knock” by SoFaygo, poking fun at the current cultural emphasis of this liposuction and fat replacement surgery that has engendered a dramatic increase in the procedure leading it to become a borderline epidemic, despite its concerningly high mortality rates relative to other plastic surgery procedures. The trend satirizes these women’s bougie and elitist attitude that they develop after their surgery. This shift in attitude and subsequent increasing desire to receive a BBL procedure has led to the concept of an “Insta baddie” where many women undergo procedures that transform them into what has become the ideal image of a woman that is amplified on Instagram. Inspired by the likenesses of women like Kylie Jenner, Kim Kardashian, and Amber Rose, the “Insta baddie'' takes on an amalgamation of many ethnic features along with an hourglass shaped figure the surgery achieves. The ideal “Insta baddie” becomes a naturally unattainable beauty standard that many women desire to achieve through various plastic surgeries.  


The BBL surgery is a part of an overwhelming plastic surgery craze that is creating uniform beauty standards where women of color’s features and body types are being erased almost to the point of eugenics. From individual women of color to groups of friends or families, many of them dedicate an incredible amount of time and money to have their ethnic features removed, while white women are spending time and money to have those ethnic features installed. Through the internet, discourse on what has been coined “Asian-fishing” and “Black-fishing” has been centered on how women of color’s features have been appropriated to the extent that white women are being mistaken as people of color. This selective body modification has worked on already existing white, colonial beauty standards, like colorism and featurism, creating the expectation that women of color are expected to look like the white women whose features are artificially attained. In this societal critique of the 21st century’s standards for beauty shaped by current media trends, the presenters hope to instill a sense of appreciation for the ethnic features women of color possess as they remind us of our ancestors and contain our rich culture. We want to convey how damaging the surgical erasure of ethnic features can be, especially as we work to dismantle white supremacy’s hold on our society.  


Presenters: Shruti Punnachalil (she, hers), Audre Lorde Scholar and Alexandria Flowers (she, hers), Audre Lorde Scholar 

Warrior’s Epistemology: Building an Accessible Future by Responding to The Failures of Sickle Cell Care 

Busch Student Center 253A

12:20-1:30 p.m.


* Repeats in Session 2 

Session 2: 1 - 1:30 p.m.

Roles of Gender and Race in Healthcare  

Busch Student Center 254

This presentation explores how intersectionality plays a role in health care, focusing on gender bias and racial background. It will examine how these two areas might affect the level of care patients receive and how it might result in detrimental issues for the patient and the system at large. For instance, there is a lack of awareness of how diseases affect women because many research studies observe men. This gap in knowledge, although not the physician’s fault but rather a systemic problem, can be extremely detrimental to the patient-physician relationship because it leads to less accurate diagnoses since all diseases cannot be applied to women and men in a similar way. As a result, there is less trust due to delays in diagnosis and a lack of proper progression of treatment. Furthermore, there are other notions that affect physicians’ understanding of their patients, impacting the quality of care. Sometimes healthcare professionals think women exaggerate their pain or misdiagnose their pain for other pain. It could just be simply because they do not understand the pain as they are not women themselves, not dependent on their capabilities as a physician. However, it is still important to consider as it can be endangering the patient because they might be in serious pain but are not given attention because the doctors do not have the same experience. Furthermore, there are certain circumstances unique to those of a particular race that those of different racial backgrounds might not understand yet those factors play an important role in the person’s health and need to be addressed. Attendees will be able to learn more about the gender disparities and inequities present in the health care system while reviewing potential solutions. 

Presenter: Sugandha Bollu (she, hers), Audre Lorde Scholar