The Bucket List
By Lauren Vespoli, The Dartmouth Staff
Published on Friday, January 18, 2013
When people talk about gendered spaces at Dartmouth, they are usually referring to the Greek scene. But gendered spaces exist on campus outside fraternities and sororities. For example: maybe it’s just me and my weak arms, but how many Dartmouth women feel comfortable in the first-floor weight area of Alumni Gym? Power to you, ladies. This week I unintentionally experienced two very different gender-dominated spaces, in pursuit of a new hobby and newfound confidence.
Last Thursday I attended an orientation session at the wood shop in the basement of the Hop. As someone who has dabbled with power tools — I know how to use a circular saw, no big deal — and who would like to spend the occasional free afternoon making something instead of watching Hulu, I decided it was time to check out the shop. However, one does not simply “check out” the wood shop. There is an on-site orientation and an online safety course you must complete before you can begin a project. The orientation session consisted of walking around the shop to each machine, watching a demonstration of its function and learning all the horrible possibilities of machine use gone wrong, such as the loss of a finger or getting clocked in the head with a piece of flying wood. However, the chances of either were extremely low, we were assured — one table saw was designed to stop moving within five milliseconds of touching skin.
There were just over 10 undergraduate and graduate students at the orientation, but I was the only girl who was there just for kicks. The other two were part of an architecture class that would be using the shop for a project. I suppose that’s not that surprising. For some reason boys have basically been told since birth that power tools are the sort of thing they are supposed to enjoy.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, I ventured to the Center for Women and Gender last Friday afternoon to audition for “The Vagina Monologues.” Despite its location on the ground floor of the somewhat dismal Choates cluster, the center is cozy and welcoming. The audition was kind of a big deal for me for a few reasons. I have never tried out for any sort of production before, let alone one about female genitalia. But I remember going to the annual show as a freshman and thinking how confident the women in it seemed and how I would never, ever have the guts to do that.
I should also add that I am a terrible actor. I know this because in high school, I took an acting class as an elective, but it turned into a traumatic experience in which I was forced to do improv with a lot of cocky jocks who made me feel too awkward to know how to behave. But last Friday, there I was — nervous and sweating slightly, but nonetheless reading monologues about female private parts to a table of encouraging student directors. The thing is, the audition was fun. It was empowering, in the same way as using a machine that could eat your finger: it’s thrilling not only because of the risk but because of the fact that you are in control of the risk that’s inherent in operating dangerous tools or in taking ownership of your gender in a such a public way.
I don’t yet know if I will be cast in “The Vagina Monologues” or if the stool I plan to make in the wood shop is even viable. But I like the feeling of trying. Update: As The Mirror went to press, Lauren learned that she would in fact play a role in the Vagina Monologues. Keep shooting for the stars everyone!