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Dawn Atkins (anthropologist)

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Title: Dawn Atkins (anthropologist)  
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Subject: John Stoltenberg
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Dawn Atkins (anthropologist)

Dawn Atkins (born February 13, 1962) is an American writer of nonfiction and fiction, as well as an activist and educator.

She has had in influence in a number of diverse areas including journalism, anthropology, body image, science fiction and fantasy, feminism, gender and sexuality studies, and Neopaganism.

Professional biography

Atkins has written dozens of published non-fiction works in journalism and anthropology and is the editor/author of three non-fiction books in sexuality studies – Looking Queer, Lesbian Sex Scandals, and Bisexual Women in the Twentieth Century.

Atkins' first published poem was at age nine, first award for writing at age eleven, first paid publication at age twelve and first fiction published at age fifteen. As a teenager, Atkins was a student journalist who won awards as a writer and editor of both the school newspaper and literary journal.

Before even finishing high school, Atkins also began Shadows Of..., a science fiction and fantasy magazine which ran from 1979–1982,[1][2] and helped launch the careers of a number of authors and artists. In addition to demands of both these publications and school, Atkins worked part-time at the local professional newspaper,The Moore Monitor (1980–1981). Work in all these areas earned Atkins a journalism scholarship to the University of Oklahoma. After starting OU, she also worked for The Norman Transcript (1981–1982).

In 1984, Atkins left school to accept a full-time position as Managing Editor at Locus Magazine (The Magazine Of The Science Fiction & Fantasy Field).[3] While there, Atkins redesigned the magazine and earned a Hugo Award (1985). Atkins left Locus and returned to college in 1986, completing Bachelor of Arts (double major) in Professional Writing and Anthropology from the University of California, Santa Cruz (1989), while also working part-time as both a writing instructor at UCSC and a journalist with several local publications, including popular weekly newspaper, The Sun.

Atkins is the daughter of feminist activist, Mary E. Atkins, and with her mother had been a member of several activist organizations in both Oklahoma and California, including the National Organization for Women. Atkins and her mother were part of a movement to raise awareness of body image issues such as appearance discrimination and eating disorders. In 1988, their work led to NOW officially recognizing the need to address body image issues.[4]

Atkins activism on anti-discrimination led to several years as founder and chair (1989–1994) of a body image education organization, the Body Image Task Force.[5] Atkins was responsible for all the BITF publications and workshops, speaking to the media and other operations. She was featured on such television programs as Larry King Live and The Oprah Winfrey Show. She gave lectures and workshops on body image at high schools, colleges, community organizations and other venues. Atkins was also one of the co-authors and primary organizers behind the Santa Cruz City Anti-Discrimination Ordinance (1992), which added "sexual orientation, gender, height, weight and physical appearance" to the protected categories and became a model for other anti-discrimination law in other cities.[6][7]

In 1994, Atkins was accepted to the doctoral program in Anthropology at the University of Iowa. Atkins completed a Masters in Anthropology in 1996. While studying at UI, Atkins also presented papers at conferences, taught classes, was assistant to the Director of Women's Studies, the editor of three books and contributing editor to several academic publications. Atkins was guest editor of special editions of the Journal of Lesbian Studies,[8] Journal of Bisexuality[9] and International Journal of Sexuality and Gender Studies.[10][11]

Atkins was working on a dissertation for the doctoral program when traumatic injury prevented completing the program. While recovering from the injury, Atkins spent several years as owner of an on-line used and rare book store before returning to writing. Atkins' injury developed into a chronic pain disorder (fibromyalgia) which prohibited a return to anthropology or journalism. Fiction, a first love, became the new direction for Atkins' energy. Atkins writes fiction full-time now, and has published several novels under pen names.[12]

Personal life

Atkins has also been active in Wicca and Neopaganism. She was a leader of Pagan organizations in both Santa Cruz and Iowa City, teaching introductory classes, leading public rituals and events. She was one of the founders and leaders of the Iowa Pagan Access Network (1995–1998).[13]



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