“What it Means to be a Woman”
What does it mean to be a woman?
During my time in the Core, I have read some of the most influential works in the Western Canon. I have learned about the intricacies of society, justice, romance, and human nature. My beliefs have been challenged, and for the first time, placed under close scrutiny inspection. It has not been lost on me, however, that most of the works I have read were written by men.
Throughout history, men have defined what it means to be a woman. Women in the Western Canon are characters that exist solely to be protected, villainized, loved, and conquered by men. As a woman in the Core, I have always felt a strange conundrum: to view the world through the lens of men felt like a great injustice, but a greater injustice still was to downplay the contributions of history’s renowned male philosophers and writers.
I recognize that history has not always been kind to female voices; the reality of our modern political philosophy is largely informed by the works of men. We cannot go back in time to recover brilliant female thoughts left unpublished. And as much as we would like to, we cannot simply rewrite the Western Canon’s male-dominated history.
So how does a woman make sense of her place in the Core? And how does the Core help a woman make sense of her place in this world?
While men claim ideals of justice, human nature, and society, one thing stays beyond their grasp: our womanhood. What it Means to be a Woman must always be defined by women.A woman’s place in the Core is not one of passive object. Women are our own protectors, villains, lovers, and conquerors. We are the active authors and interpreters of our own stories, and as such, active writers of society’s future.
I photographed strong, brilliant, and powerful women in the Core and asked them which single Core quote resonated with them the most. I wanted to take the greatest works of the Western Canon and give them a female voice, experience, and interpretation.
What it Means to be a Woman is housed on an online website (bit.ly/kfwoman), which allows me to both capture the dynamic experiences of women in the Core and make these experiences accessible. I want to generate a continuous discussion about a woman’s place in the Core and What it Means to be a Woman today.
What it Means to be a Woman is a growing collection of voices reclaiming female agency and reinterpreting the Western Canon to give birth to a new kind of Eve: a woman created in her own image.
About the Scholar: Kai Feliciano
Kai Feliciano was born and raised in Manila, Philippines. A Neuroscience and Behavior major on the pre-medical track, she is most passionate about mental health awareness and youth empowerment. As a freelance graphic designer, Kai focuses on the intersection of visual art, storytelling, and social impact. She is also the incoming Vice President of Columbia Class of 2020 and an avid dog enthusiast.