About the Author

Logan Maniscalco (they/them) is a student at Amherst College and the Communications Organizer for the WGC. They started Re/defining Gender in conjunction with the Center in order to share their everyday musings on issues facing gender-marginalized individuals, especially those facing other intersections of marginalization, such as race, class, ability, and sexual orientation. This column is meant to confront both definitions of womanhood and experiences of misogyny in everyday life and reflects the opinions of the author.

April 29, 2024: Take Care

Over this last winter break, I was a caretaker for the first time in my life. After a loved one had a major surgery, I spent the majority of winter break helping her while she was in recovery. Over the course of those weeks, I came to be reminded of my values of devotion, patience, kindness, and care.

April 1, 2024: A Call for Justice: The Rise of Protests Against Femicide in the Global South

As we conclude Women’s History Month and remember opportunities we’ve taken to celebrate the accomplishments made by and movements led by women throughout history, we must also remember and give attention to the massive violence enacted against women across the globe, particularly widespread femicide. More recently, there have been a number of protests in the Global South against femicide, primarily in Kenya and Mexico.

October 30, 2023: Not Just Surviving: The Right to Safe and Sustainable Parenting for Marginalized Communities

At multiple points over the course of my life my mother has worked more than one job in an effort to keep the two of us and my younger brother safe, healthy, and economically stable. When I was in middle school, my mother supported her income from her primary job as a postal worker by delivering newspapers in our city. She was fortunate enough to be placed on a route that served our neighborhood and the surrounding, so she could be close to home.

October 11, 2023: The Right to Have Children: A Look Into the Role of Forced Sterilization in the U.S.

Medical Apartheid: The Dark History of Medical Experimentation on Black Americans from Colonial Times to the Present by Harriet Washington describes the life of Fannie Lou Hamer, a Black woman living on a plantation in 1961 trying to help get rid of her family’s debt. One day she entered a Mississippi hospital to have–what was most likely–a benign uterine fibroid tumor removed but left the hospital sterilized.

May 8, 2023: The Talk

One day in 2012, the entire fifth grade of my elementary school was on edge. All day, students had been pulled out of class, split up into girls and boys, and brought into an empty classroom to have a conversation, the topic of which they were not allowed to disclose to their peers until everyone had been in the room. There had been whispers and giggles all day, and we wondered what it could be. Finally, I got answers when my class was split up, taken into separate rooms, and sat on the floor. We were shown a video presentation about something some of us had heard of, some of us were already dealing with every day, and some of us had only imagined after hearing implicit jokes writers snuck into the shows we would watch every day once we got home. The presentation was about periods.*cue ominous end of the world music*

March 20, 2023: Is This For Me? The Benefits and Pitfalls of Talk Therapy in the U.S.

I have been participating in talk therapy at varying frequencies for the past five years. It has had a great impact. It’s given me diagnoses that allowed people in my life to take my experiences more seriously. It has alleviated many severe symptoms that had haunted me through my childhood and adolescence. It has given me the necessary coping skills to take care of myself in the face of trauma and setbacks. It has made me a radically different person, someone that prioritizes communication and connection, someone that welcomes vulnerability instead of running from it, someone that is healthy. And this is true for so many people. There is a reason why the practice is so popular; it’s because there are many benefits. But there are also many ways in which therapy has failed its patients. This is because those aforementioned benefits exist within a system designed with only a certain group of people in mind. Therapy becomes an institution rather than a method of treatment. It makes you pause and ask: who was this institution designed to benefit? What happens when you aren’t a part of this group? What can therapy do for you then?

February 27, 2023: “Anger in Community: How We Survive”

Something I have found intrinsic to the experience of being socialized as a girl and woman, specifically when you’re a person of color as well, is the ever-present rage we carry inside of us. Everything we do– work, study, run, dance, share a meal with a friend, hold a heating pad to our lower stomachs, fall in love, get sick, cry, rest– is guided by a layer of anger running underneath the experience. I believe I have been angry every day of my life. When one’s body holds pain as an instinct (menstruation, hormonal changes, childbirth), when one’s body is politicized as well as invalidated in that pain, there is no option other than to be guided by a quiet, fueling rage. This rage allows you to remember your worth outside of that assigned to you by capitalism, white supremacy, and patriarchy. Audre Lorde acknowledges the ways in which the invalidation and violence from society has fueled a fierce anger in which women of color have grown up: “Women of Color in America have grown up within a symphony of anger at being silenced, at being unchosen, at knowing that when we survive, it is in spite of a world that takes for granted our lack of humanness, and which hates our very existence outside of its service.” (Uses of Anger, 7-8) It is constant, and not only is it a response, but a method of survival.

February 13, 2023: An Ode to Weird Little Girls on the Playground

To the weird little girls on the playground. There were many of us, gathered in small clumps in schoolyards all over. We focused on different projects, different creations. We cherished the potions. First we knelt in the dirt, tiny rocks and mulch chunks stabbing into the skin on our knees but we couldn’t feel it. Then we carved a hole in the ground, a crater, dark and endless. In the backs of our minds we wondered whether the rumor was true, and a few more inches of digging would get us to China. There was the refilling of the hole– the pot, the cauldron– with new dirt, blessed dirt. There was the neapolitan-like assortment of tan mulch and deep brown mulch, dusty, grayish brown dirt and dirt wet and dark from that dug-up-spot-just-before-China. Sometimes someone would remember to bring their half-drank water bottle outside and the small stream would make all the dirt melt and mix together. The ingredients would begin to cook. Depending on our mood that day, we sometimes added twigs and rocks we found mixed into the mulch. The rocks made a neat circle around the pot, and the twigs reached past the lip of the pot, sticking up into the air. With two lines of defense against evil spirits and nefarious boys, the creation was complete.

November 14, 2022: The B Word

Who is Beautiful? How do we define Beauty? Do you have Beauty? What would you have to do to get it?

I want to talk about the concept of Beauty Capital as described by activist Ismatu Gwendolyn, and how it ties into the definition of gender. Gwendolyn describes themselves as “a social worker, a storyteller, and a dancer all living in the head of some Chicago tea drinker.” They share their ideas on platforms such as TikTok, and have a podcast and blog called The Garden Space. One of the topics she covers is that of the difference between “little b beauty” and “capital B Beauty.” So let’s talk about it.

October 17, 2022: Poverty and the Overturning of Roe v. Wade

Reproductive Justice as a political practice stands for the right to have a child, the right to not have a child, and the right to parent a child safely. All of these things are impacted by and in turn impact economic stability and security. This Reproductive Justice Month, as we explore what the overturning of Roe v. Wade means for the state of the country, I want to highlight the experiences of poor gender marginalized people, and what this overturning means for us.

When the news broke on June 24th, I was working. I was in Johnson Chapel, organizing bibliographies and reading 18th century poetry, when my friend shared that Roe v. Wade had been overturned. I Googled it, just so I could see it for myself, and it was true. What they had said was going to happen for the past month had happened. I closed up what I was working on, went outside, sat down in a chair on the top of the hill, and cried. I distinctly remember pressing my hand over my heart, feeling my heart beat so softly under the layers of skin and muscle.

May 2, 2022: Guerreras

I’m sitting on the couch, my younger cousin nestled next to me, the lamp lights glowing low and warm, watching as my mother jumps around in a circle of her sisters and mother. Her head is tilted back, her eyes wide with excitement, as she sings the most tone-deaf rendition of a melody anyone has ever heard. I don’t remember the song, but I remember screaming and laughing, the adults with a couple of drinks in their system. My mother, at the center of it all, hasn’t had fun like this in a long time. As she dances, I wish I could be up there with her, but my total lack of confidence keeps me from getting out of my seat. I think for a moment about how different we are–it’s true, she has taught me everything she knows–yet we couldn’t be more opposite. She: loud, bold, confident, carefree. Me: quiet, anxious, and hyper-aware of everyone and everything around me. I watch my mother with my aunts and grandmother; I’m content  with observing. In some ways, it’s better, getting to see them light up the room and fill the air with noise. It reminds me who I come from.

April 12, 2022: The Humiliation of Women in Men’s Comedy: Jada Pinkett Smith and the Loss of Agency

When I was young, about 10 or 11, one of the few ways I was able to bond with my father came in the form of several Netflix comedy specials by Jeff Dunham. Jeff Dunham, one of the most popular and successful comedians in the United States, made his brand of comedy through ventriloquism. Each show, he would bring out several puppets with distinct and crowd pleasing personalities, bringing audiences to tears with laughter. I was no different. I loved him, partly because he was the first comedian I had ever watched and partly because I saw that my father loved him, and that was a signal to me that I should do the same. My brother and I were constantly left gasping for air, clutching our sore stomachs out of amusement.