Q&A: Stand for truth
Professor debunks misconceptions common to her field of study
Published: Monday, October 28, 2013
Updated: Monday, October 28, 2013 23:10
Allison Rubenak, lifestyles writer, sits down with Kristan Poirot, professor in communication, women’s and gender studies.
THE BATTALION: How long have you lived in College Station and what contributed to your choice to teach at A&M?
Poirot: I have been in College Station since July 2009, so a little over four years. I came to Texas A&M — I’m from Texas originally, I’m from Amarillo. I got my Ph.D. at the University of Georgia and my first job was at the University of South Carolina. My son [is in Texas] — I really wanted to get closer to home. So when I saw this job, I applied and I was lucky enough to get a job here. It was a better institution than South Carolina so it was kind of a step up for me professionally and personally for me to be close to home.
THE BATTALION: What’s one of your favorite classes to teach
Poirot: I like all of my classes — probably one of my [favorite] classes, and it’s one of my classes I’m teaching this semester, is Rhetoric of the Civil Rights Movement. I like teaching it because, sadly I learn this every time I teach this class, people just don’t know a lot about Black History and a lot about the history of the Civil Rights Movement. So, students get really excited in the class and they get angry that they haven’t been taught this stuff before. And the story that’s told is such a motivational story in some ways and can shine light onto some contemporary politics. I just love teaching the class and the content. I’m very much emotionally connected to and passionate about [it] and I feel like we have a good time in the class talking about some serious issues.”
Movement. I like teaching it because, sadly I learn this every time I teach this class, people just don’t know a lot about Black History and a lot about the history of the Civil Rights Movement. So, students get really excited in the class and they get angry that they haven’t been taught this stuff before. And the story that’s told is such a motivational story in some ways and can shine light onto some contemporary politics. I just love teaching the class and the content. I’m very much emotionally connected to and passionate about [it] and I feel like we have a good time in the class talking about some serious issues.
THE BATTALION: What is your most recently written book, “A Question of Sex,” about?
Poirot: My book looks at the ways feminist movements or women’s movements have engaged the question of sex difference over time. I start in the early 19th century with the suffrage movements and go all the way to contemporary marches like The Slut Walks that are protesting sexual violence and think about what are they saying between the sexes or within a particular sex. So, how has sex been a feature in these movements? It was a lot of fun because I got to look at anything from the 19th century, I looked at feminist health movements in the ‘60s and more contemporary stuff.
THE BATTALION: What are some misconceptions you think people form around feminists or the idea of feminism?
Poirot: That we hate men. That we burn our bras. That we don’t like mothers — we don’t like stay-at-home mothers especially. That we’re not funny. That we’re not feminine at all, that feminists would never go buy makeup or care about these things. And generally, that we’re not very nice or friendly. People who know a little bit about feminism know that it’s a complex set of theories and ideas and positions and not everybody is the same. I think that there are a lot of misconceptions. But I also think there [are] a lot of misconceptions about Aggies and feminism. I know people outside of A&M who are like, ‘I can’t believe you’re teaching women’s studies at Texas A&M. That must be hard.’ But I get the best classes. Even students who aren’t going to walk out of the room saying they’re feminist — which is not what we want, right? We want people to be exposed to different ideas. We’re deeply thinking about how we can make this world more equitable for men and women. That’s common ground to think about the problem of gender and the problem
THE BATTALION: What do you like to do in your spare time when you’re not teaching?
Poirot: What I like to do and what I do ‘do,’ are probably two different things. I have three children. Most of my time is spent doing stuff — and I want to do stuff, but a lot of it — we’re in what I call the ‘soccer mom stage.’ We go to baseball and swimming and it’s all kind of oriented around their lives right now. But I just recently got married, just over a year ago, so I’m kind of enjoying newlywed life. I really like to travel. Last year I got to go to Italy to teach and I got to go to Paris for the first time, so I’m always looking for new things to do. I think we’re going to go to Disney World next, so I’d say traveling and spending time with my kids.
THE BATTALION: What is something that is on your “bucket list”?
Poirot: I want to live in Europe for a year. I just want to live in another country and experience that unfamiliarity for more than just a short time — just how it changes and how you live your life. I want to know a foreign language, which would help if I were going to live in another country. I’m one of these people who don’t know a foreign language and I think that is ridiculous. I want to be fluent in another language before I die.
THE BATTALION: What’s one of your favorite movies and what it’s about?
Poirot: “The Big Lebowski.” It is a Coen brothers film with Jeff Bridges who played the “dude” and John Goodman — it is the funniest movie I have ever seen. I watch it over and over. No one knows what “The Big Lebowski” is about. It’s a kind of mystery about this guy who gets persuaded to help out a rich man about a kidnapping. The plot is very intricate. It’s a movie about these characters and these characters’ interactions. It’s very