Women’s Studies: Rightist vs. Common Sense

3 Feb

Women’s studies departments are transforming their programs into broader fields with different names. As such, liberal and conservative editorial teams have decided to give their 2 cents on this issue.

One particular publication feud is worth mentioning: the National Post vs. the Walrus.

Read the blog duel, but I’ll give you a quick summary.

National Post believes women’s studies programs should be eradicated and there’s no need to recognize or fight for gender equality because it’s a thing of the past. Diversity training is irrelevant, and thus men are victimized for being men.

Walrus in response calls the Post out for holding outdated views that aren’t taught by academics anymore, ignoring the need for diversity themed courses and the existence of serious gender-related issues like domestic violence and rape. They note that the Post is going too far, comparing their views to a heterosexual who doesn’t approve of the Gay Pride Parade because there isn’t a straight person’s parade.

What I agree with on the Post side is that it’s often the case that males taking women’s studies classes feel alienated being the minority in the classroom and are made to feel guilty for the privileges he receives. To educate a class full of women on their shortcomings doesn’t make as much sense as it would if a large male student body was welcomed into the classroom. This would allow for both debate and openness regarding tolerance and discussion.

On the other hand, the Post is definitely barbaric in their views. As they pick and choose what feminist cliches they want to include in their article, they misconstrue the program’s messages while highlighting views held by a small group of extremists many many years ago.

There’s no denying the glass ceiling exists, or that women are victimized in the majority of countries, or that women’ rights are so new that it is impossible to consider a department studying the ongoing fight for women’s freedom to be irrelevant.

Looking to the future, I commend women’s studies departments for broadening their image, but they should consider including more men in their gender-based discussions. Perhaps awareness will offset blind allegations and stereotypes by uninformed, rightist media outlets.

These departments are no doubt, strong enough and popular enough to stand their ground against discrimination and misappropriation. That, as you know, has been the forefront of the feminist movement all along.

Feminism is the radical notion that women are people.

– Cheris Kramarae and Paula Treichler

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3 Responses to “Women’s Studies: Rightist vs. Common Sense”

  1. Rob February 3, 2010 at 11:48 am #

    My perspective on this topic means very little since I have never sat in on a Women’s Studies class, but why not just make a smooth transition to gender studies? Clearly there is a need to discuss gender issues and roles for both women and men, and by including everyone in the discussion, hopefully we can be more productive in working toward equality. I know it’s not often examined, but men’s gender roles are often extremely constricting – especially in advertising, holy crap!

    for what it’s worth, my two cents

    • romeh February 3, 2010 at 9:11 pm #

      yes, yes, and yes!

      I think that’s why Women’s Studies are considering name changes. Their name restricts the content they teach. I wonder if Laurier is going through similar changes to other schools? And why not look at both sides of the coin? The idea of gender itself is constricting if you only think in binaries. Expansion is definitely necessary to evolve with liberal thinking.

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