Anna Geimeier: Serving Others With Passion and Compassion

Anna Geimeier is a Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies major in the University of Cincinnati’s McMicken College of Arts and Sciences. Through this small department of diverse faculty from many walks of life and academe, Anna is focusing on ecofeminism: the intersection between sexism, the domination of nature, racism and other characteristics of social inequality. She graduates in June with a bachelor’s degree in Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies.

“I didn't get to know Anna until this past winter quarter, when she was in my LGBT Studies class,” says Deborah T. Meem, professor and head of the Department of Women's, Gender, & Sexuality Studies. “This was my loss, decidedly. She has the gift of knowing how to grapple with new ideas — aggressively, thoughtfully and joyfully.”

Many generational studies have concluded that “Millennials” — those born between 1981 and 2000 — dislike selfishness and are oriented toward service learning and volunteerism. Whereas their predecessors have been called the “Me Generation,” today’s graduates are being called the “We Generation” for their concern for others.

In Anna’s case, “others” includes people, such as through her service to the UC Women’s Center as a Reclaim Peer Advocate. As such, she has been committed to helping and educating her peers around issues of sexual assault and gender-based violence.

Anna says that Peer Advocates give survivors a starting point when they re lost and don t know what to do next.

Anna says that Peer Advocates give survivors a starting point when they re lost and don t know what to do next.

The UC Women’s Center

Reclaim Peer Advocates

are trained to respond to the needs of students who are victims of sexual assault and intimate partner violence. At least one peer advocate is available at all times. 

“Peer advocates give survivors a starting point when they’re completely lost and just don’t know what to do next,” Anna says. “It helps knowing there’s a help phone they can call for that first bit of support; we inform then what they


do. We are conscious


to point them in any


direction, just to make them aware of their options and to help them make the decision on their own about what will help them recover best. Then, based on their decision, we can direct the caller toward appropriate campus and community resources.”

Anna explains that the level of support varies, depending solely on what the survivor needs. “Sometimes it’s more emotional support; sometimes peer advocates accompany survivors to hospital exams or to place police reports,” she says. “Some peer advocates have met with survivors in the Women’s Center just to talk face to face.”

“So it’s giving them emotional support and the facts to go forward,” she adds. Most of her own work has been on the phone. She has found, however, that being a Peer Advocate has carried over into her personal life.

Anna says it's important for people to have someone they can confide in.

Anna says it's important for people to have someone they can confide in.

“People know I’m an advocate and they’ve started confiding in me,” she says. “I’m part of that — I’m a good resource.” She mentions a friend had recently called her in the middle of the night to talk and had said that she thought Anna would be a good person to talk to because she had had training in that area.

“It’s important to have someone in your life who can play that role for you,” she notes.

Anna says that she has had many faculty here at UC who have played an important role in her own personal development. Jana Braziel, who supervised Anna on her capstone, as one example. Braziel is an associate professor of English and comparative literature and the faculty chair of the Charles Phelps Taft Research Center.

“Anna’s awesome!” says Braziel. “Anna is an impressive student, engaged leader, and ardent activist for women’s studies and environmental causes; indeed, she is one of the smartest and most provocative undergraduate students that I have ever taught.”

“Having twice taught Anna—first in winter 2009 in ‘Introduction to Cultural Studies’ and again in fall 2009 in a course entitled ‘Humanities and Human Rights’ — I can personally attest to Anna’s intellectual curiosity, her sagacious analyses of cultural and literary issues, and her excellence in written and oral assignments,” Braziel adds. “Anna’s participation in class discussions is consistently vigorous and vibrant; and her papers always thoughtful, reflective and well written.”

Anna says that Braziel and WGSS faculty member Adrian Parr were challenging  instructors.

“I’m always sitting in class, writing words they used and thinking, ‘That’s a good word — I’ve gotta remember that one,’” says Anna, laughing.

A couple of days in the life of Anna Geimeier

“One of the most engaged students I have ever had!” says Adrian Parr, an associate professor in the Department of Women's, Gender and Sexuality Studies and the School of Architecture and Interior Design.

Anna says that Parr helped her with “everything,” for it is Parr’s topic that Anna is most interested in pursuing.

“Helping others” for Anna also means the protecting environment, which is part of her academic focus on ecofeminism. Ecofeminists argue that a strong parallel exists between the oppression and subordination of women in society and the degradation of nature through the construction of differences into conceptual binaries and ideological hierarchies that allow a systematic, however logically unsound, justification of domination ("power-over power") by subjects classed into higher-ranking categories over objects classed into lower-ranking categories (such as man over woman or culture over nature). This domination and exploitation of women, of poorly resourced peoples and of nature sits at the core of the ecofeminist analysis. Ecofeminism (which is a term coined in the mid-1970s) is one of the few movements that actually connects two seemingly disparate movements: ecology and feminism.

“The ecofeminism perspective examines the intersection of gender, race, class and environmental oppression. The oppressive forces that create those problems are interconnected,” Anna says. “I study how managing one injustice will benefit others. It’s a holist perspective, the way our world works.”

Anna points out that it doesn’t matter if people don’t care about the environment or environmental sustainability. “It’s still going to affect you. It affects everyone; no one is exempt,” she says. “We’re getting to the point where more and more people are starting to realize that. People you wouldn’t expect to be ‘going green’ are going to that.”

“What’s important to me is that we don’t let it just become another trend,” she continues. “There needs to be a consumer habit-changing movement. We need to consume responsibly and we need to consume much less.”

Anna says that there needs to be a consumer habit-changing movement.

Anna says that there needs to be a consumer habit-changing movement.

Specifically, Anna’s talking about the new educational movement of learning gardens or school gardens. Her capstone project was conducted at Annunciation School with elementary children, where they had built a garden to introduce the ecological values at a young age.

"My project examines the growing trend of school — or learning — gardens as a way of revitalizing education and introducing ecological concepts in formal education," she explains. "I believe this is important because we are becoming increasingly disconnected from our natural world, and without a love for the environment, the young generation will not be adequately prepared to handle the daunting environmental problems that they will inherit." Anna enjoyed going there to observe and conduct interviews with the children and their teacher.

“That experience supported my research the way it excited the children about learning,” Anna says. “They started to take ideas from the garden back to their homes.”

Anna has applied to join the Earth Corps next year, an environmentally based service group where she would be doing intensive field labor while gaining an environmental education.

Her next goal is to get a master’s degree in environmental studies, with the eventual goal of a PhD and teaching environmental sustainability.

“The environment is out there — you can be part of it!” Anna says.

Learn more about ecofeminism


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