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Last night, the keynote address for Missouri State University’s celebration of Women’s History Month brought a famous feminist voice to Springfield. KSMU’s Emma Wilson reports.
“Sexism Thrives…Here, There, and Everywhere”, this title was part of what compelled students, professors and members of the community to attend the culminating event. The speaker was Dr. Paula Caplan, who’s a clinical and research psychologist at Harvard University as well as a Springfield native.
Caplan says, “It’s about how sexism continues to thrive, unfortunately, and how in every realm you look in you see it, whether it’s on campuses, in the mental health system, in the courts or in the military.”
Toward the end of her presentation Missouri State Theater Department faculty and a student did a reading of a play written by Dr. Caplan. Closely based on a true story, the performance of “What Mommy Told Me” presented a scenario that, Caplan says, is all too common and addressed gender inequalities in the courtroom. The short play was about a mother who lost custody of her sexually-abused daughter to the abusive father. Caplan says that including a monologue or performance can have an emotional impact on the audience that lecturing alone may not be able to.
“Any time anyone asks me to do a lecture about anything I do some sort of performance as part of it. Because I love, you know, coming at it from both of those ways.” Caplan says.
Dr. Sharmistha Self, a professor of economics at MSU, organized the event and says she hopes this lecture will create dialogue about women’s issues within the community.
Dr. Self says “The thing she’s talking about isn’t just about a small group of people or just about, you know, people in women’s studies or something so one hopes that this will start a conversation, a much larger conversation about everyday issues that are kind of sticky and uncomfortable an we don’t want to talk about.”
Dr. Caplan says that one of her favorite things about lecturing in settings like last nights is that it brings people together with common goals. Although Women’s History Month comes to a close today, she hopes the conversation is just getting started.