Past Interns and Assistants: Aerin Lai

 In honour of GENDER.ED’s five-year anniversary, we recently sat down with past undergraduate interns and PhD assistants to discuss their experiences at GENDER.ED, what gender and sexuality studies related work they are currently involved in, as well as to allow them the opportunity to give valuable advice to future interns and assistants. 


For the first part of this series, we sat down with Aerin Lai, a former PhD Assistant for GENDER.ED. This is what they had to say! 




When did you work at GENDER.ED and what did you do here?  


I started in 2020 first as an editorial assistant on 16 Days Blogathon, working closely with the brilliant Fiona Mackay. I see that experience as the starting point for my time with GENDER.ED as after 2020’s 16 Days Blogathon, our wonderful director Radhika asked me to assist with populating the Teaching Feminisms, Transforming Lives project webpages, a project that also came under GENDER.ED’s remit.  I continued work on 3 cycles of the Blogathon, while helping with advertising GENDER.ED events, supporting workshops like Spring into Methods and updating the GENDER.ED website.  



What feminist work or research are you involved with now? Tell us about what you’re up to!  


I’m mainly focusing on my PhD research, which interrogates masculinities in Singapore through a decolonial intersectional lens. Thinking about black feminist scholars and their work on the intersections with race and gender has been extremely helpful and inspiring, while at the same time, bringing in a decolonial lens helps to avoid treating as static or monolithic the very power structures that exist in those intersections in the first place. Meaning, rather than just focusing on the intersections of race, gender and class, decolonial theory enables a scrutiny of race, class, and gender in the first place as it locates these structures within history. 


Besides that, I try to engage with feminist reading groups. Also, one of the most memorable pieces of advice an established feminist academic gave me was a nod to Audre Lorde: Self-care is also a form of resistance. I try to do more of that care towards myself and my community. 


What would you say to someone considering applying to work with GENDER.ED? 


 GENDER.ED has definitely opened up a lot of opportunities for me. Not only did it give me confidence in my own abilities to edit writing and coordinate events, it helped me get to know so many wonderful gender and sexuality researchers, and to get to know people who work in other research clusters such as RACE.ED, CRITIQUE and people in IASH. For example, when I was supporting the Spring into Methods workshop last summer, Becky Hewer’s session on feminist discourse analysis really helped with my own PhD research as I was in the midst of coding and analysing my data. Further, those connections I made were really meaningful for me, and I am glad I was part of these networks.