Jennette Ramirez, a gender, ethnicity, and multicultural studies major, presented her research on the media’s portrayal of First Lady Melania Trump and former First Lady Michelle Obama at the Western Social Science Association Conference on Friday, April 26.
Her paper, “Beautiful Monsters: Production of the Monstrous Self as First Lady,” investigates how the two women participate in visual culture, or the study of culture through visual imagery, and how that influences public opinion.
“Presenting at the WSSA Conference was a great experience,” said Ramirez, who is graduating May 19. “My theoretical framework called ‘Beautiful Monsters’ evaluates how the social construct of beauty complicates our existence. ‘Beautiful Monsters’ is an adaptation of Jeffrey Cohen’s Monster Theory, which is a person or thing that deviates from social norms. I want to thank my mentor, Shayda Kafai, a lecturer in the Department of Ethnic and Women’s Studies, for being instrumental in my development as a GEMS scholar. The great thing about being a GEMS student is that you are a part of a community that prioritizes your personal and professional growth.”
During her time at CPP, Ramirez has focused her research on the relationship between gender, sexuality, race, ethnicity and activism. She has won numerous awards including the Jonnie J. Owens Creating Change Scholarship and a McNair Scholarship for her research project, “Drag Activism: The Evolution of the Gender Deviant Performer in California,” a study of performers who resist gender norms and who have used their platform to empower their local communities.
Ramirez has also been very active on campus, serving as a social justice leader in the Pride Center. As a social justice leader, she has assisted in the preparation of various events including “Lessons in Drag,” an event co-sponsored by the Pride Center and the Department of Liberal Studies, and the Lavender Graduation, which celebrates the accomplishments of those graduating from the LGBTQ and allies community.
After commencement, she plans to attend graduate school to continue studying race, class, gender, queer history, queer activism and migration. Her goal is to earn a doctorate degree in American studies and teach queer studies, which examines issues related to the LGBTQ community. Ultimately, she hopes to play a pivotal role in empowering the next generation of queer scholars.