In-Depth with the Women’s Dept’s Deps

You’ve been introduced to Laura, the 2018 ANUSA women’s officer — now it’s time to get to know the deputy women’s officers: Priyanka Tomar (she/her/hers pronouns) and Juliette Baxter (she/her/hers pronouns). The deputies provide support to the officer and advocate for members of the ANU Women’s Department, being responsible for the development and running of the collective (the active members of the department)*. They’re both super cool people whose company I really enjoy in any case, but it’s amazing how much better I’ve gotten to know them through asking some pointed — possibly unusual — questions!

What do you study?

Priyanka: Law and international relations.

Juliette: I study a double degree of Asian studies and visual arts, minoring in Chinese and majoring in painting respectively. For now, anyway. I’ve changed my mind about my degree about 10 times in the past week.

How long have you been at ANU?

P: I’m in second year.

J: I’ve been at ANU for a little over a year now.

Where’s home?

P: I’m originally from Melbourne.

J: I’m not entirely sure. Canberra is starting to feel like home sometimes. It’s probably Melbourne though, where my family live, but I only lived there for 18 months before coming to ANU. B&G is my 12th home and I don’t think I’m going to stop moving anytime soon.

What’s an unpopular opinion you have?

P: I have an intense dislike for any sort of condiment. They just don’t really make sense to me. If you have to add something to make it taste better it means it’s not very good to begin with, so why eat it in the first place?

J: I kind of like pineapple on top of pizza.

Tell me about something you’ve always wanted to try, but have been too afraid to do?

P: I’ve always wanted to try sewing and making my own clothes but I’m fairly accident prone so I feel like I should never be in that close proximity to a needle. It just sounds like a really sustainable and fun hobby (and also nothing fits me properly because I am amazingly short).

J: I’ve always wanted to audition for a musical and be a part of the cast, but I’ve always been too scared to.

What act doesn’t seem feminist at first glance, but actually is?

P: Cooking for my family! I think because it’s associated with constraining gender roles, people often think of it as an act born out of patriarchal pressure. For me, however, it’s been a really wonderful way of connecting with other women in my family. As an Indian-Australian woman, being able to learn recipes that have been passed down from my mother, and probably her mother, has been a really important experience. I’ve learnt more about my heritage and now have a special bond with my female relatives.

J: Cooking. I think while cooking is often seen as a very feminine activity, it’s actually a skill that can help you achieve independence. Also, surprisingly (or not, because of the patriarchy) most chefs are men.

If you had to write a book about your life so far, what would its first and last lines be?

P: [She couldn’t think of anything. It’s okay, Priyanka, you’re still super interesting and we love you all the same.]

J: I was a fairly nerdy and introspective teenager, so I actually started writing a book about myself a few years ago. I managed to find the first line, which was very cringe-worthy: “So I guess there’s nowhere else to start but the beginning.” It kind of sounds like the first line of a poorly written teen-angst novel. I didn’t end up finishing the book because I got distracted. So maybe if I wanted to be a bit smarmy, the last line would be: “Fortunately I’m not dead yet so this isn’t really a last line.”

Tell me a productivity tip that’s helped you before.

P: I like to set myself small goals and incremental deadlines that I strictly adhere to. This way, I never get overwhelmingly behind while still feeling productive on larger projects. I know this isn’t really a revolutionary productivity idea, but it’s something basic that has been really useful for me.

J: I sometimes like to study in very dull places. Like the downstairs dungeon (basement?) of Menzies. I find that it can be easier to concentrate when there’s nothing visually stimulating around.

What are you most looking forward to about the ANU Women’s Department in 2018?

P: I’m most excited about the addition of a recurring social calendar! I think it will engage more Department members who might be less into activism and are simply looking for solidarity and a safe space to relax. But in particular, I can’t wait for the potlucks (the first one is in week two)!

J: I’m not sure if I’m looking forward to anything in particular. Mostly I’m just excited for more people to get involved with the Women’s Department and for them to get something valuable out of it. And hopefully, I’ll befriend some of those people!

*You can get involved with the ANU Women’s Department by attending meetings, social events, or throwing yourself into the ANU Women’s Revue, Bossy (that’s us!) or Skate Pals. Find out more about the work the officers and department do on their website and on Facebook.