Titan Tuesday – Alexis Barton
March is Women’s History Month, which for Alexis Barton, graduate student and president of the Feminist Student Union at IU South Bend, serves as an ideal opportunity to reflect on the contributions of women who have led the way and inspired her as she found her way personally and academically.
After graduating from Goshen High School, Alexis originally was drawn to the talented faculty in the music department in the Ernestine Raclin School of the Arts and was a violin performance major. Due to some issues in her personal life, she had to step back from music and found her home in social sciences, where she earned her Bachelor in General Studies with a minor in Women’s and Gender Studies.
Alexis credits “powerful female professors” Betsy Lucal, professor of sociology, and April Lidinsky, associate professor and director of the women’s and gender studies program for helping her find the right path to take in her education. “I’ve taken classes with both of them and a lot of the content has really changed my life. It’s what has inspired me to go into sociology,” says Alexis.
During her transition academically, Alexis was also coming to terms with her sexuality, as a grey area asexual and lesbian, which resulted in her “completely uprooting” her personal life as well. Her cousin had experienced something similar, and gave Alexis the most valuable advice that she’s ever received: “Be brave.”
It’s a very simple thing to tell women, but it’s one of the most challenging things. Bravery is required in some way, no matter what your story is,” says Alexis.
Currently in the Masters of Liberal Studies program, Alexis plans on pursuing a PhD in environmental sociology. “I want to study the relationships people have with the land and socially how people interact with it.” Her goal is to work with the National Parks Service, which has a social science sector that studies how to increase the number of visitors, as well as change the demographics of visitors.
In addition to her studies, Alexis is focused on her goal of revitalizing the Feminist Student Union. The group has been building participation, and hopes to continue to do more projects to raise awareness of gender issues and host film screenings and panel discussions. “We want to get people involved in new topics that don’t require taking a class,” says Alexis.
Inclusivity is among the fundamentals that the Feminist Student Union stands for, according to Alexis, who hopes to clear up misconceptions of feminism. “Feminism is the belief that there should be social, political, and economic equality between the sexes. If your ‘feminism’ is anti-male or anti-trans, it’s not feminism.”
As much as the women trailblazers before her have accomplished, Alexis has big dreams for positive changes for the current young girls in the next 15 to 20 years.
“I hope the #MeToo movement is just something they read about in textbooks and not something they have to ever experience. I hope they aren’t having to learn to live to deal with the loss of a peer due to gun violence. I hope coming out as queer won’t be one of the biggest difficulties they face prior to their 20s, that they realize it’s okay that being a girl isn’t right for them one day, and nothing can make them less of a womxn. And I hope they continue to lift up the voices of those that are oppressed around them.”