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Callis shares the way gender studies shaped her view of the world. Photo: CC, PourquoiPas, edits Jaclyn McRae-Sadik.
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Coming to the University of Ottawa, I knew I wanted to study something in the field of human rights. Since I’ve always been passionate about social justice and the well-being of others, I found myself revisiting classes in the field of feminist and gender studies.

My decision was made after some trial and error, and soon all of the following semesters were filled with courses that would change not only my level of knowledge, but also my outlook on the world.

Learning about feminist studies went beyond women’s rights—it taught me about race, class, disability, sexual orientation, and more.  Moreover, it taught me the way in which those markers of social identities materialize in our social world.

I felt enlightened, and still feel as though it’s given me the ability to find answers to why things are the way they are in the world. It asks questions that no one else is willing to ask, and provokes a certain thought process that forces one to stray from their confines of reality.  

That being said, my behaviour and thought process throughout the course of my undergrad has changed drastically. With this new insight, I’ve developed certain habits that have made living my everyday life slightly more difficult, and it goes beyond my cynicism of realizing how much change needs to be made.

I constantly find myself deconstructing my every action or thought and relating it back to theories that can explain them.

Whether I’m watching a TV show, movie, reading a book, or listening to music, I am hyper aware of how harmful it is in a greater context. Long gone are the days that I could listen to Fetty Wap or go on a Sex and the City binge without that little voice making its way into my head.

But what’s become the most difficult is my interactions with others. Although it is not my intention to undermine anyone’s intelligence, I do find myself harbouring slight judgement onto those that do not seek to understand issues surrounding social justice and, furthermore, those who refute the idea of feminism.

It’s almost unfathomable to me that certain people think in the way that they do, and carry out harmful behaviours towards others. Nonetheless, it is unfair for me to cast such judgement, as it is a part of my studies to understand that people’s experiences form their beliefs and perspectives.   

I think what I’ve started to realize is that the goal is to find a balance in my mind. I’m starting to understand that I can turn off the over-analysis from time to time without compromising my stance on feminism, and allow myself to find happiness in my individual life.