Sophomore to Speak at Prestigious Academic Conference

Katherine Nelson ’18 will present her paper, “Katniss Everdeen, Apologetic Feminism, and the Glorification of Masculinity,” at the eleventh biennial Associated Colleges of the South (ACS) Gender Studies Conference, which takes place February 19-21 at Southwestern University in Georgetown, Texas.

The interdisciplinary conference, whose theme is “Gender Across…,” will showcase work that explores how gender and sex are represented across the disciplines of the humanities, natural sciences, social sciences, and fine arts, as well as across race, ethnicity, sexuality, class, disability, space, place, time, bodies, culture, and genres.

Nelson’s philosophical-gender studies essay focuses on the “manifestation of ‘apologetic feminism'” in the character Katniss Everdeen from The Hunger Games trilogy. “I argue that although she is powerful, Katniss portrays that power as it pertains to masculinity, to the standards of which men are judged,” Nelson explains in the paper’s abstract. “She uses her masculine traits to survive in her world. I further suggest that Katniss, and the society of the Capital – the city in which the wealthy and powerful elite reside – and the Districts – the areas in which the other citizens reside in ranging degrees of poverty – in this work of fiction are reflections of Western capitalist societies, and the story draws parallels to the world we live in.

“One such parallel for women is that sex-based oppression, especially in a capitalist society, only allows women to succeed by shirking or repressing their traits that are typically considered feminine and conforming to society’s standards of masculinity.”

Nelson further argues that The Hunger Games and Katniss Everdeen convey the message to girls and young women “that they cannot succeed because of their gender, but in the rare case that they try, women are only as successful as their measure of masculinity allows them to be.”

She concludes that “we must not apologize for our femininity. Rather, the embrace of all aspects of feminine, masculine, and gender-ambiguous traits is necessary to combat the idea in our society that masculinity is key to success and survival.”

Nelson notes, “I’m very excited to attend the conference, present my work, and meet the other contributors, and I am excited to represent Hollins.”