"Love is a Bulletproof Vest": Protest as an Exploration of Women’s Right to the City

Sarah Duran

Student Name: Sarah Duran
Major: Sociology
Advisor: Heather Fitz Gibbon
Utilizing interviews, participant observation, and documentary photography, this study investigates how women claim their right to the city through engaging in protest, focusing on women’s participation in the Black Lives Matter and anti-Trump protests in Portland, Oregon, during summer 2020. This included attending protests and visiting protest sites to document events and locations with digital photography and facilitating conversations with protest participants. The analysis of this visual and on-the-ground research is given a theoretical framework with Henri Lefebvre’s concept of the right to the city, Jane Jacobs’ important notion of “eyes on the street,” and Judith Butler’s theories of gender as performance. How women participate in public protest is an act that gives new meaning to and changes urban spaces. The interviews conducted with nine women and one person who identifies as non-binary provide important, original qualitative data on women’s experiences in urban space.
I was excited to take on this project because I am from Portland. This research not only brought together several of my academic interests, it also gave me a new way to reflect on my own experiences of the city, to see streets I have walked in a different way. My data reveals new ways to look at urban spaces and the right to be in them through analysis of topics such as the creation of community, bodily autonomy, and women’s safety in cities to show new directions for studying women’s participation in urban space, social justice movements, and how we develop policies around public safety.
love is a bulletproof vest
*please click on photo and look at presentation online before watching video presentation

Sarah will be online to field comments on April 16: Noon-2 pm EDT (PST 9am-11am, Africa/Europe: early evening).

Posted in I.S. Symposium 2021, Independent Study on April 6, 2021.