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Post Abortion Stress Syndrome
Anti-abortion advocates say abortions cause debilitating stress. Find out what you need to know about their campaign.

Ms. Goes to College
Wanna know what college is like for a feminist? We go to the source with essays by students.

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- Just the Facts
- Word: Tolerance
- Women to Watch
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: A classical music pioneer is rediscovered.

-La Virgen Gets a Makeover
Ms News
Editor's Page: Blood Money
Portfolio: Eyes of the Beholder
African American women photographers turn the "gaze" inside out.
She Says
Kathy Najimy Takes on Hollywood Every Day In Every Way
Back Page
Brenda Starr Goes to the Hall of Fame

A Daughter of Cambodia Remembers
After losing much of her family to the Khmer Rouge, one woman fights against land mines and her own demons.

Where is the Love?
Maybe the world needs a Black Love Day, according to the author of this provacative essay.

-Recollections of My Life as a Woman, by Diane di Prima
-Arts of the Possible, by Adrienne Rich
- The Hero's Walk, by Anita Rau Badami
-Misogyny: The Male Malady, by David D. Gilmore
-YELL-Oh Girls!, edited by Vickie Nam
-Even Dogs Go Home To Die, by Linda St. John
-Days of Awe, by Achy Obejas
-So Vast the Prison, by Assia Djebar

Mother Millet: A book excerpt
Kate Millet
Columns: Daisy Hernandez, Patricia Smith and Gloria Steinem
Your Work
Academic Discrimination Lives On

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Maria Velazquez, Class of 2004
Smith College
Northampton, Massachusetts

Here is something of Smith: old buildings, where the heat hisses softly as it rises from ancient pipes; trees whose branches arc to the sky; and women. Mostly women, actually — the trees, the hissing steam, the old buildings are all just the reference point for women's bodies, women's voices.

Women walking, women talking, women simply existing as women. Here at Smith, there is no opposite to exist against. You soon forget those little idiosyncrasies that define gender — the pretenses of hip-sway and thigh-shift — except as mannerisms that define you as an individual with a name. Who
am I but me? Here, we are no longer feminine because of outward appearances. Legs go unshaved; but then, when the act is finally performed it is not a forced rite that confirms gender identity, but is a treat meant to affirm the sheer physicality of denuded skin, the luxury of bare legs against the air. Nails are painted out of sheer joy for the color and the pleasure of perceiving it: black-blue is thrown against silver glitter, electric purple is splashed onto shell pink. Who am I but me? Creating beauty and defining it becomes an expression of personal taste and choice.

To be feminist starts to mean claiming those parts of your former, pre-Smith self and piecing them together into a freely chosen whole. Being here, with only women, challenges subconscious ideas about the self and womanhood. What is female, exactly? Is it what males are not? Is it having a period, having breasts, having a vagina? What are the signs of being female?

Sometimes, when I am looking in the full-length mirror in the weight room at crew, I am struck by how very brown I am, how very black, as though all that was black and of Africa was drip-dropped into one opulent, gracelessly voluptuous body. I feel all ass and titties; the white girls seem far more svelte with their slender, slender hips and their flat, boyish chests, far more confident and pure. I envision them in the boats, their camaraderie and slim bodies propelling the team to victory. And yet and yet and yet — these women have become part of me. Some part of them has come into me, and I have shared something of myself with them. As they sprawl around me, loose, easy, comfortable, and relaxed, I am struck by how beautiful they are and yet how powerful. They know what their bodies can do. Around them, I begin to ease into an idea of what it means to be both strong and powerful — and female. I mentally caress my legs, stomach, and buttocks, appreciating the subtle interplay between muscle and movement. I love the baroque excesses of this person that I am.

And I love that we are all women here, free to be women here, female. How liberated I am depends on how liberated my sister-girlfriend is. She becomes me as I become her. She is my fellow warrior, my reflection in the mirror. Who am I but her?

I thought I came here knowing something; I thought I came here knowing who I was. I seem to have forgotten, but maybe that doesn't matter. I have become so permeable here; my ideas about being a black female have been forced to evolve, to leap beyond the bastions of my younger thoughts, brushing against rare and valuable answers to questions I have not yet begun to ask. Maybe I need to start all over and relearn all the old stories so they can become new once more as I tell them again and again. Who am I but me? I am always black. I am always brown. But here, the edges have smudged and shifted. Here, we are all in a sisterhood that cannot be withdrawn because someone's bisexual or someone's Protestant or someone's not quite black enough.

We are black and here. We are female and here. We are here, at Smith, where women are expected to be leaders, expected to shine brightly in an incandescent sky. We are coming into our inheritance, living out the dreams of our mothers. We are here at Smith.


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