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March 9, 1998

Prominent women's studies professor to deliver Humanities Lecture

Bettina Aptheker

By Barbara McKenna

The culture we live in and the media messages we are exposed to form a myriad of attitudes that we tend to internalize. For most women in our society these attitudes include displeasure with their bodies, difficulty in expressing their ideas, fears of violence against themselves and their children, and a fear of expressing anger. When women learn to think independently of these cultural and media messages, they can make transformations personally and politically--shedding critical and destructive perspectives and counteracting them in society, explains noted feminist scholar Bettina Aptheker.

Aptheker, a professor of women's studies at UCSC, will address the subject in the lecture, "Teaching Women About Themselves: Toward Personal Healing and Political Transformation." Her talk is part of the 1997-98 Humanities Lecture Series, sponsored jointly by UCSC's Humanities Division and the Museum of Art and History. It takes place from 7 to 8 p.m. on Thursday, March 12, at the Museum of Art and History at the McPherson Center, 705 Front St., Santa Cruz. The talk is free and open to the public. A reception follows.

A leading scholar in the field of women's studies and a popular lecturer on and off campus, Aptheker will discuss the field of women's studies and the ways in which work in it can spark personal and societal changes.

"Many disciplines rely on experience-based or empirical research as a basis of study. Psychology and sociology are examples. But in these fields the experiences are not those of the researchers themselves but of those whom they study," Aptheker says. "In women's studies we are using our own experiences as a method of work for understanding the subordinated position of women in society. We teach women how to learn from their own experiences and those of other women, and trust in their judgments. From this we generate theories about women's lives and ways of changing our conditions."

Through this approach, Aptheker explains, women find their own voices and their own direction. "That process," she says, "is both personally healing and politically effective."

Aptheker has been a prominent activist for more than 30 years in the women's, peace, civil rights, and lesbian movements. A member of the UCSC faculty since 1980, she is author of several books, including Tapestries of Life: Women's Work, Women's Consciousness and the Meaning of Daily Experience. She has been honored for her work in teaching and activism by numerous groups, most recently by the Santa Cruz County Women's Commission for her extraordinary contribution to improving the status of women. For more information on the lecture, call (408) 459-2696.

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