Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Oh, College.

This is a post about a college classroom.
Not just any classroom--
A women's & gender studies classroom.
Not just any women's and gender studies class!
An upper-level WGS class!

Yes! By 301, Feminist Theory, you would assume, wouldn't you, that essentialist arguments were pretty much abandoned, and that people were using an intersectional approach, and that they'd bloody well figured out that ECONOMIC STATUS is NOT NEGLIGIBLE.

I mean, wouldn't you?

Yes, Sneering Girl Who Defends Her Elitist Patriarchal Arguments To The Death, I am talking to you.

I am not going to rehash an argument from class, because I am way too much of a Lady, but after Sneering Girl said something Essentialist and the whole class jumped on her with valid arguments and corrections, then Ditzy Girl (who I am actually willing to give the benefit of the doubt) said she didn't believe economics was a real factor, and then the whole class jumped to give alternative examples to the contrary AND THEN we spent the rest of class with Ditzy Girl and Sneering Girl talking about how their feelings were hurt and the class needed to be more respectful of their opinions.

[which is a conglomeration of Excellent Points made by my professor and my own thinking on the subject]
It is true that in a class like this, discussion is important.  Personal examples are important.  Everyone needs to feel safe enough to express themselves.

BUT Women's Studies is about understanding systems of privilege.  Talking about privilege is Not Comfortable for the privileged.  If we accept all opinions as valid, without subjecting them to the scrutiny of a feminist lens, then we are not challenging those systems of oppression.  By getting defensive about privilege, we don't get anywhere.

Or, as I like to say, we should be comfortable in expressing ourselves, but not so comfortable that we continue to think hegemonically, patriarchally.

This is exactly why we should have WGS in high school.
And why it should be a required class.
Maybe I am a radical.
Mostly I am just angry that over half of the time in my class today was about Somebody's Feelings instead of the texts on Black Feminism that we should have been discussing.


  1. Who's the prof? WGS can be pretty frustrating sometimes.

    And yeah, WGS should be required for everyone at all times, and if that makes me a radical it means everyone else just needs to actually learn some feminism.

  2. It's Glenda Gross? I've not had her before, but she is amazing and I love her. And she was doing her best to be A Good Facilitator. But it was indeed frustrating.

  3. Ugh, how frustrating. All people are equal =/= all opinions are equal.

    WGS+African-American studies has convinced me that Intersections & Oppressions should be a core class alongside English, math, and science through school. Do you know how much stuff we just didn't learn?? Well, okay, you do, but there was SO MUCH. A paragraph about women/black people/poor people/gays and lesbians per history chapter is a nice gesture, but hardly provides a framework for understanding systems of oppression, much less combating them. This stuff should be instilled early and often.

    Also, I am so curious about what the actual argument was. Dish!