SOPHIA SEAWELL /// Gendered Violence in Bathrooms, Streets, and Prisons


In this conversation, Sophia Seawell and I examine how violence unfolds on bodies through the conformity to the normative category that has been attributed to them. We look at this problem particularly in terms of gender, continuously perpetuated by bodily performativities that often manifests themselves spatially. In this regard, opening the door of a gendered bathroom and its semiotics constitutes for many of us as a deliberate acceptation of the gendered that has been attributed to us. Sophia’s research is particularly oriented toward bodies that have undertook to transgress performativity by adopting the one of the “opposite gender” to their normative attribution. Transgender bodies, in the disruption of the norm they incarnate, are particularly subject to violence, in particular in the space of the street, but also in the space of the prison where they are kept in facilities that do not correspond to the gender they identify like in the case of Cece McDonald or Chelsea Manning. Later, we discuss of how gendered violence also remains a problem as the questions to address it are always asked in a way that perpetuates the status quo, and often retroactively legitimize some of its manifestations.

Sophia Seawell is a recent graduate of Brown University, where she concentrated in Gender and Sexuality Studies with a focus on race and religion. She wrote her senior capstone paper on the narratives invoked after Trayvon Martin’s death and during the subsequent trial in relation to the idea of contemporary ‘colorblind’ race relations in the U.S. In her last semester at Brown, she became a co-editor-in-chief of Bluestockings Magazine, the first feminist-minded publication based at Brown. She also contributes to the Bluestockings blog and Bitch Magazine. Sophia facilitated FemSex, a semester-long, student-run sexual education workshop that uses an intersectional and anti-oppressive approach to gender and sexuality, and daydreams of starting a version in Amsterdam, where she studied for a year and worked for a summer as new media intern for feminist grant-making organization Mama Cash. Sophia is now seeking employment in Amsterdam before she returns to her studies.




– Chanelle Adams, Lily Gutterman, Ann Kremen & Sophia Seawell (eds), Bluestockings Magazine Issue 4, 2014.
– Leslie Feinberg, Stone Butch Blues: A Novel, Alyson Books, 2004.
– Judith Butler, Gender Trouble: Feminism and the Subversion of Identity, Routledge, 1990.
Judith Halberstam, Female Masculinity, Duke University Press, 1998.


– “#SAFEDANSLARUE: A Hashtag to Describe Gendered Violence in Public Space” (February 12, 2014)
– “Fashion Forensic: The Cloth as (Pre)judicial Evidence” (March 2, 2014)