Loyola University Chicago

Women's Studies and Gender Studies

Mary Griffin Essay Award

Mary Griffin Award Winner

"Idealized Anatomy and the Discursive Formation of Sex in the United States and Europe" by Sam Forrey is proudly our winner of the Mary Griffin Essay Award! 

Post-structuralist and feminist scholarship asserts that systems of sex have been conceptualized differently throughout history and that scientists in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries created the contemporary "two-sex" system. However, through discursive analysis of medical scholarship, Forrey proposes that a two-sex system never existed in the West. Forrey demonstrates how the clinical deemed Black women and lesbians incapable of fitting into the anatomical ideal of white heterosexual womanhood by asserting universal differences between the labia, clitorises, and pelvises of Black women and lesbians-who represented sexual excess-versus those of white heterosexual women. Their analysis demonstrates how these categories were subject to change based on paradigm shifts within the clinic, highlighting the subjectivity of the medical gaze.

Samantha (Sam) Forrey is a masters student in Loyola's Women's and Gender Studies Program. After earning their bachelor's degree in History and International Stides at Baldwin Wallace University, Sam worked as a Carrer Access Advisor at College Now, a non-profit which focuses on college accessibility in Cleveland, Ohio. Additionally, they served as the chairperson for College Now’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Communications Subcommittee. In graduate school, their research focus has been on the epistemology and rhetoric of discrimination and the creation of marginalization, inclusion, and exclusion in professional and educational settings. They hope to work as an administrator in higher education to create and implement policies prioritizing diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility on college campuses. 


Curious. Creative. Transformative.

The Mary Griffin Essay Award is designed to honor excellence in scholarship and writing among the graduate students in the Women’s Studies and Gender Studies Program. 

The award is endowed in the name of Mary Griffin (1916-1998), a member of the order of the Sisters of Charity of the Blessed Virgin Mary (B.V.M.), who was an English professor at Mundelein College and, later, Loyola University Chicago.  She was an innovator in education and an advocate for social justice, participating in both the Civil Rights Movement and the Feminist Movement in the 1970s.   

This is an annual award. Students are encouraged to submit to the Graduate Program Director their best essay written as part of their WSGS coursework during the current calendar year. 

The deadline for 2024 submissions is January 19th.