During two of the high school’s Bulldog Blocks last week, a group of over 20 students gathered in the media center to participate in the first annual ORRHS TEDx Talks.
TED Talks have been held all around the world since the first event in 1984, hosted both by the TED organization and independent groups (like the students at ORR). “TED” stands for “Technology, Engineering and Design,” while the “x” signifies that the event is independently organized.
Seniors Alice Bednarczyk and Bella Rodrigues were the first to present with their subject on “Women in Science Fiction.”
“One requirement of the presentation was to do something that covered gender,” Bednarczyk explained. “Sci-fi has grown to be a very popular genre, with Mary Shelley being the one to kick start the genre with her novel Frankenstein. We wanted to examine how women have been portrayed in the genre.”
Bednarczyk and Rodrigues highlighted the major issues that have plagued female characters in both past and current sci-fi movies, which included looking at the tropes these characters fell into. One example was of the ‘helper woman’ who only serves to progress a male lead’s arc no matter how strong they are, such as Sarah Connor in Terminator whose sole purpose for being important is that she is pregnant with John Connor.
Aidan McLaughlin followed up with a discussion on “The Origins of Evil.” He focused on the search to find the root of all evil so it could be better fought, and showed it was related to the Gender Politics Club’s fight against sexism and bigotism.
Freshman Spencer Perez-Dormitzer did his talk on “Women in Beatboxing,” an activity he participates in. Along with his presentation, he gave some examples of his skills to the enjoyment of the audience.
“[Women in beatboxing] was something I hadn’t really thought of before, and I thought this was a good opportunity to do a little research and educate about a place in music without bias and gender roles,” McLaughlin said. “My idea behind it was that everyone is doing something about women or other people being oppressed, and I figured I’d bring some positivity. I also tried to have a memorable presentation.”
In her introduction to her talk about feminism, freshman Payton Lord said, “Feminism is a growing movement, but with growth comes misinterpretations to what ‘feminism’ means.” In her talk, Lord made it very clear that the definition of feminism means the equality between women and men, contrary to what many critics claim. She also provided the definitions of other terms that many people confuse with feminism: misandry (the belief that women are superior to men) and misogyny (the belief that men are superior to women).
“If we’re going to succeed, we need to stand as one to do so!” Lord said in her closing, summarizing why there needs to be less confusion on the matter.
With the first ORRHS TEDx Talks complete, students now look to the future to plan the next round of presentations to give more students the chance to have their voices heard and educate their peers on a certain subject.
“I hope that the opportunity to do this sort of presentation continues because it’s important for teens to learn how to research, assemble a presentation, and talk in front of a group of people in a low-stress environment,” Bednarczyk said.
By Jo Caynon