To mark the final day of UN Women’s 16 Days of Activism campaign, we profile Beatrice Lawrence, an Assistant Professor at Seattle University. Beatrice works closely with fellow academic activists Rhiannon Graybill and Meredith Minister on religion and gender-based violence. Look out for their forthcoming edited volume Rape Culture and Religious Studies: Critical and Pedagogical Engagements (Lexington Books).
Tell us about yourself: who are you and what do you do?
I’m an assistant professor at Seattle University, where I teach courses on the Hebrew Bible and Jewish Studies, often cross-listed with Women and Gender Studies. I love my job; I think the material at the heart of my career is fascinating and important, and it’s wonderful to see students realize that as well. My research is eclectic, ranging from rabbinics to rape culture. A consistent thread, however, is that of pushing boundaries.
What’s your involvement with gender activism? Does your work intersect with gender activism? How?
I grew up in a staunchly feminist household. My mother was an activist, going on marches and serving as the president of Idaho’s National Organization for Women. (Yes. Idaho.) She would take us with her, she would talk about it with us, and my father was just as engaged. Feminism was and is an integrated and central element of our family dialect, and I’m incredibly grateful: I have always been motivated to see and name gender-based injustice and violence. It is only natural that it would be a part of my work, and the way I parent my daughters.
I’ve always been involved in community and pedagogical work around sexual assault, by creating workshops, engaging in mindful teaching practices, and supporting activist groups. But a few years ago, I was blessed to meet my colleagues and friends, Rhiannon Graybill and Meredith Minister, at a Wabash workshop. We came to realize we shared a concern about sexual assault on college campuses, as well as the conviction that the culture surrounding it needed to be identified and named. Its intersection with our work in Bible and theology fueled our desire to create sophisticated yet accessible means to discuss it. Thus was born our work together, writing and teaching about rape culture.
How does or could The Shiloh Project relate to your work and activism?
I’m grateful for the chance to connect with the wonderful people at The Shiloh Project to mutually promote each other’s work. We share a commitment to relevant, rigorous scholarship on gender-based inequality and violence, and a desire to have an impact in the academy as well as outside it. We are publishing a volume on rape culture and religious studies (due out late 2018), and look forward to sharing it in this context as well. The feminist ethic of collaboration and care is present in the work of The Shiloh Project: let’s work together, support each other, and make a difference.
How are you going to get active to resist gender-based violence and inequality?
I’m loud, angry, and active—and I plan to continue being thus.