Are you a feminist?
That’s the question that Amelia Mitrotz, ’16, is asking a lot of people these days. The Jepson senior is completing an honors thesis analyzing the portrayal and perception of feminism on the internet.
“A lot of people think feminism is over, or it’s dead, or it’s not necessary, but I think there’s a lot more going on out there than we’re currently aware of. And it’s all in the internet,” explains Mitrotz.
Working with her thesis advisor, Dr. Kristin Bezio, Mitrotz is examining what people mean when they identify themselves as feminist online and if feminism has become so individualized that it can no longer be called a collective group movement.
“I’m hoping that my research sheds light on what feminism is today and how it can lead toward change or not,” says Mitrotz.
Striving for positive social change is not new to Mitrotz. She’s been involved in conversations and productions surrounding social justice issues throughout her college career, including the campus production of The Vagina Monologues, a performance that seeks to empower women and girls. Mitrotz first began acting in the monologues during her sophomore year, and she codirected the show during her junior and senior years. Mitrotz sees her research as a way to apply her education to her passion for justice.
“I feel like Jepson teaches you to be a better member of society in a lot of ways, a better citizen, a more conscious citizen — one who can stop and look around themselves and think critically about what is happening,” says Mitrotz. “With regard to feminism, I don’t know if people really stop and think about it in that way. But with all the things that are happening online and all these different media sources that are coming at us all the time, I think it’s really insightful to stop and analyze those the same way that we might be analyzing history or we might be analyzing what’s happening in politics right now.”
In spring 2015, Mitrotz received the Fredric M. Jablin Award for Undergraduate Research Award, a grant awarded to a rising Jepson senior. But Mitrotz also notes support for her project went far beyond funding; she acknowledges the help she received from faculty, her thesis committee, and the close community of students conducting research at the Jepson School.
“I really enjoyed that process of Dr. Bezio sitting with us and talking to us about research and what it entailed because I think it’s preparation that other disciplines don’t necessarily get,” Mitrotz says. “I think the way we [Jepson School] do honors theses are very particular, and you collaborate not only with faculty here but also with the other thesis writers.”
So what’s next for Mitrotz?
“To be determined,” she laughs before explaining that she intends to go to graduate school but wants to work for a few years while she decides what she wants to study and what her career trajectory will be.
For the present, she says, “It’s kind of nice to be able to be passionate about something that I’m doing.”