Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Women's Studies

Are the "Woman's Studies Dept" in modern colleges/universities necessary?

53 comments:

JP said...

"Women's Studies?" Ha, more like... "Learn-to-make-a-sandwich" studies!

tmichals said...

John I think you should reconsider you're thinking behind that comment. But yeah... I don't think they are necessarily "necessary" in college settings; however, I do think that it is extremely important and the option to study women and their adversities is incredibly beneficial.

Mr. Plainview said...
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Aaron Nussdorf said...

i think that women's studies has it's place: it is a great way to validate women's liberation, rights, and empowerment. jp's post is the example that shows that we need a women's studies dept...you disgust me jp. sappho acts a catalyst for women's studies/empowerment/liberation.

joel derby said...

I believe women's studies can help women become empowered and find a sense of belonging in our society. Just learning that women have done great things can help a women become more independent and confident.

puddlewonderful said...

I think-- I hope--no, I really do believe-- that John is kidding.

I see women's studies as more than just an academic institution to validate and empower the feminist movement. Yes, it is a product of that movement, and I'm sure it does accompolish the aforementioend goals, but from what Mrs. Scandurro said in class today, I see it more as the study of the role of a minority group in society throughout history-- because, really, that's what women have been, in essence. A minority group by gender. And of course to study the a minority group and it's place in culture, literature, art, society, etc. throughout history is rewarded for other reasons. I think to deny the importance of women's studies is to deny the importance of a lot of sociohistorical, interdisciplinary topics that are arising in universities today-- because they are much the same.

Stephen said...

Although women's studies is not a subject that I would personally pursue with much interest, I believe that it is an important subject in its historical sense of acknowledging the overshadowed successes of certain women. I do believe, however, that sappho's poems are only studied for the purpose of establishing a female presence in antiquity rather than for actual poems.

tmichals said...

Yeah I agree with Scuba Steve for the most part on that one. Although Sappho's poems are beautiful, I think that the fact she was a woman writing them at the time makes her well known. Except weren't most of her poems anonymously written? Now I'm confused on my thinking.

Caroline said...

Although, like Stephen, I would never pursue a women's studies program, I think there are obviously many women that are interested in and empowered by learning about the struggles women faced and how women got to where the are today. Sappho is important to the program because she was one of the first women to question her role in society by writing poetry.

Ehren said...

I agree with what tmichals said in her first post about women's studies. I think she worded it well. "I don't think they are necessarily 'necessary.'" I don't believe that they are vital to every individual's intellectual development, but it is definitly understandable that a person can be passionate about this subject.

JP said...

Ok, I'm being serious for a moment now -

I think women's studies is a good thing. I would say it's equally as important as "men's" studies (I know, that's called "history"). There's nothing wrong with learning about the historical and literary contributions of women, and about their rise to legal equality - in fact, there's a whole lot right with it.

Where I draw the line is trying to guilt the men of today for the oppression of past generations. Which is clearly what is going on, when a Women's Studies professor gets visibly angry discussing the injustices wrought upon women who died before she was born, by men who were sometimes equally or moreso prejudiced against men of a lower class or different skin color.

Furthermore, spelling it "Womyn's studies" is completely ridiculous. I understand the rationale that language controls thought, but I defy anyone to explain how changing the word from "Women" to "Womyn" makes them feel more free-thinking. Personally, I associate the spelling "Womyn" with man-hating, bra-burning feminists, and I'm not alone.

Alright. Now back to your regularly scheduled "get-back-in-the-kitchen" jokes:
It's the fault of people who think the word women has a Y in it somewhere that, in backlash, books like THIS are written:

http://www.amazon.com/Men-Are-Better-Than-Women/dp/1416953817

El Paco said...

There are a lot of studies in colleges and universities that are important but not necessary parts of the curriculum. For instance, I think one school in California has a class that studies the lyrics of Missy Elliot. I mean, sure it's not "necessary" to study Missy Elliot lyrics, but can you imagine a world in which we don't learn the true meaning of such beautiful poetry?

Caroline said...

They also have African American studies in many colleges which, I'm assuming, focuses on the oppression faced by African Americans which is much like Women's Studies which focuses on the issues women faced.

ndepass said...

like a few others have said before, i do not think it is a course that i would enroll in. However i think that colleges should definitely offer this because im sure there are many who enjoy studying this and should have that opportunity. I think the subject is important and allows people to learn a different side of history, from another point of view, that most people do not cover in their education.

stephen gieger said...

I think that what Ehren said earlier about a course of Women's studies being optional and not part of a mandatory curiculum is an important statement. A women's studies course is important if that is the field that one pursues, however, it does not have much pratical application for a person who say wanted to major in finance or engineering.

tmichals said...

John... thanks for the rational thinking this time. Also, I agree with you on the whole "Womyn's studies" spelling thing. I almost feel like it promotes a feeling/belief that women truly are separate from men and that they must be identified as such.

puddlewonderful said...

An interesting and slightly relevant aside:

Apparently, according to this wikipedia article on the term "womyn", the true etymology of the word does not appear to be male-dominated. In old english, the term "man" refered a gender-neutral Homo sapiens. "Wer" or "werman" meant a male human, and "wyf" or "wyfman" meant a female human. Later the words evolved to revolve around the male, so that the gender neutral noun "man" replaced "wer/werman," but wyf became wife, and wyfman became woman.

So, the origin of the word does not mean "female property of her husband." It's a bit less male chauvinistic than we may have assumed.

JP said...

You know what else?

Males are the only ones with a Y-chromosome.

So by changing the spelling to "womyn," the word actually takes on a more noticeable reference to men, not less. Great job, femynysts.

tmichals said...

Yeah. It's ironic because they tried to reduce the male influence in the word woman, but they actually have made it more noticable. But I think the tones of some of these blogs prove that there is a reason for Women's studies.

joel derby said...

Well, I don't believe the Women's studies are necessary, Statistics show that there are more women than men enrolled in colleges. Doesn't this show that women have become equal to men??? It seems like some women, like men need to calm down about claiming to be the victim.

joel derby said...

That doesn't just apply to women, but everyone who will make a big deal out of something.

Aaron Nussdorf said...

you know, most liturature focuses on women not being sexually satified [see most of sophemore english]. but, has anyone ever considered that men may not be sexually satified?

JP said...

I'm completely unsure about this women's studies "necessary/unnecessary" discussion. Necessary for what?

Dean Elazab said...

I think that women's studies is set up for the wrong reasons. the studying of women in history is great and i support it, but the use of it as a women's movement against men is not what should happen. women talk about these centers like it is the only place they can be without being oppressed and held down. with the times now a days that is not as muc hof a case.

Aaron Nussdorf said...

the women's movement is not against men, it is against men's oppression of women. it is not a study of how to bring men to their knees; any suggestion of such is pure and ingnorant foolishness. the role of women's studies, as i see it, is the study of how to empower women. that is what i support

puddlewonderful said...

I don't like the idea of women's studies empowering women. Women should be empowered, but academics should be studies, not encouragement for a certain gender to overcome obstacles. Thee should be something else to accomplish that goal.

Today I was reminded why women's studies are still so vital. Running with our male-dominated team, I realized that there are boys in our very high school that objectify women. I don't think they realize what they're doing, exactly, but it's that sort of attitude (that women are judged on two scales-- appearance and skankiness/prudery), and that idea that girls are things to be talked about without respect, without any restraint at all-- that disgusts me. And I wonder, why is this? Is it something we allow? Is it some backlash? Is it some residual effect we are still trying to reduce?

I think that's where Women's Studies come in-- I think that is an area Women's Studies would address and should address.

Mr. Plainview said...

Cough. Cough. Not all men on the "male-dominated" xcountry team objectify women.
That being said, I don't think Women's Studies is really "necessary." Like others have said, it may be an interesting subject for some, and I applaud them for pursuing their interests. Personally, however, I do not see this in my future.

joel derby said...

I think half the women who beleive in Womens studies are hypocritical, Michelle, you talk about women objectifying and judging women, but the same thing happens to guys. I always hear you talking about all these hot guys you see, You can not possibly claim that you dont objectify men, it's ridiculous.

El Paco said...

Women in society wouldn't be objectified so much if they could learn to make me a decent sandwich

Dean Elazab said...

Michelle, I agree with joel, even though your definition of a hot guy is a ivy league englishman, women still objectify men. And also, this topic is now a boy/girl flame war

Dean Elazab said...

Well while most guys do look at women and think of them as hot, some girls watch humanities movies to droll over the narrator :D :D :D

JP said...

puddlewonderful said...
it's that sort of attitude (that women are judged on two scales-- appearance and skankiness/prudery)


el paco said...
Women in society wouldn't be objectified so much if they could learn to make me a decent sandwich


You see, Michelle. Men don't base their judgments of women upon superficial things like their appearance, or their "skankiness." It is a merit-based system, based on their relative ability in such important practices as sandwich-making.

In other news, everyone on this planet is judged by their appearance first, and their personality and other things much later. It's no coincidence that in the vast majority of America's presidential elections, the taller candidate, with the better hair, has won.

That book Blink dealt with this idea in one chapter, where an experiment showed that people instinctively trust "tall, dark and handsome" men more than smaller or less handsome men.

Anonymous said...
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ndepass said...

i think it really isnt neccessary to change the term women to womyn because the people from our generation dont think of the word "man" as relating to gender, in other words. By pointing out the "Y" in place of "men" i think it just draws attention to it and makes people say things about the spelling

the lyreblog said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
puddlewonderful said...

Sorry. I originally posted this with the lyre account:

Nobody is going to read this, but, you know, c’est la vie.

I would like to qualify my statements about the necessity of women’s studies—- it is necessary that it exist as an option, not that people be forced to take it.

As for objectifying people, of course we judge others on their appearance—- it’s inavoidable. But that is not objectification, and not what I am considering—- yes, we can talk about how good looking a certain guy or girl is, and it is not condemnable if we are given to minor prejudices based on people’s appearance (it’s only natural, though unfair). But when men refer to women as “brown baggers” (look it up on urbandictionary if you, like me, were not familiar with the phrase)… that’s disgusting. Or when a certain person talks about watching a girl run, and enjoying it not because of her inspiring athleticism, or even to admire her athletic figure, but because of the movement of her breasts—- which he describes in rather crude detail. And when a girl’s ex-boyfriend discusses the intimate details of her body with other guys. That shows a lack of respect, a fundamental respect for a girl or woman as another human being, with feelings just like any other, and a respect for the intimacy and privacy of a relationship. It crosses the line. It’s one thing to admire the figure and the person of the figure, but there is a point when it changes from admiration to objectification, from respect to disregard. Is it offensive when I admire the first place finisher of a cross country race, and the contours of his body, shaped by miles and miles of dedicated running, much like the Discobolos? I don’t see him as a tool for personal gratification, but a human being of admirable form—- and an admirable form that to me alludes to some level of dedication to a sport that I love and highly value. I am interested in him because of his natural talent and athleticism—- I am moved to this admiration and interest because of qualities I see in him, qualities which I admire, and wish I myself possessed.

And I know most the guys in this class don’t do this—- I don’t think they do—- but they are privy to these conversations. Would you deny that this is a fundamental problem with society, this disregard for women?

I’m sorry if I came across as violently angry at the male gender, because I’m not. I’m just really bothered by this seemingly prevalent attitude, and sick of it.

bballinsupasta said...

i think that women's studies is a necessary department in college. women have been very important in civilization and done some great things like make all of our world leaders. but seriously, it is a valid course of study just as much as Latin American or African American studies which are both necessary and valid majors

michelle scandurro said...

Joel-- You said: "Well, I don't believe the Women's studies are necessary, Statistics show that there are more women than men enrolled in colleges. Doesn't this show that women have become equal to men??? It seems like some women, like men need to calm down about claiming to be the victim."

I'm not sure women have been 100% liberated and stand an equal chance to attain greatness as guys do.

We still haven't had a female president, very few CEOs are women, very few lawyers are women, women still generally get paid less than men for the same work, hardly any of the works of literature or art in your two expansive textbooks are products of women...

Sorry. I just think that sometimes American society gets comfortable under the illusion that we have gender equality. Most women would actually agree w/ you that equality has been achieved. Yes, there is equality of rights, but I wonder about equality of opportunity.

Oh, and most feminism or womens' studies is NOT about superiority or man-hating. Only the crazies get on TV.

El Paco said...

OOOOOOHHHHHHHHH JOEL GOT TOLD!!!!!!

Anonymous said...

only if there is a male studies department

JP said...

Mrs. Scandurro, I have a question for you:

Can "equality of opportunity" ever truly be achieved, for women or for anyone?

Have you ever read "Harrison Bergeron" by Kurt Vonnegut?

JP said...

And furthermore, I believe there should be a sandwich-making component to any true Women's Studies program.

tmichals said...

I just want to let you know that you guys are driving me to insanity. My little brother just said "go make me something to eat" all nonchalantly and I freaked out on him because I automatically pictures John saying "make me a sandwich". It's ridiculous that this is the effect you boys have on me. And John... I am sad to say that I don't truly believe equality of opportunity can be reached in everything sadly. But what's important is that people care enough to try.

Katherine said...

Ok so I'm too lazy to read this entire thread but basically I would like to inform yall that college is the greatest experience ever. PLEAS PLEASE PLEASE consider applying to Dartmouth! I will host any one of yall if you choose to visit. I seriously love this college so much. It's the best decision I've ever made. Everyone here is so cool and amazing. Even if you haven't considered Dartmouth at all, visit me. Anyone of yall can stay with me, for reals. I promise you that you will have so much fun.

Anyways, I would just like to let you all know that I'm seriously considering majoring in Women's Studies. I'm definitely planning to go on a FSP (foreign study program) to India through a Women's Studies program. So please do not say that it isn't a real major because it definitely is.

I would comment more but I have to play mario cart so I will be back on this post later but for now keep in mind that you should COME TO DARTMOUTH!

Katherine said...

Also, it's referred to Women's Studies but mostly it's called Women's AND Gender studies. A lot of the classes focus on the differences between the sexes. And the classes that deal only with women do so from a certain viewpoint. There's a class about women in Native American life. The class learns about the Native American culture, but through a woman's perspective.

Mr. Plainview said...
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Mr. Plainview said...

I would respectfully like to remind everybody that not all males are sexist and sandwich-hungry. There are men who do not objectify women and moreover fully respect and like them. However, I don't think much of the argument that women are a "minority group." Historically, they may have been repressed and even today may be victims of sexism. "Minority group" is not the right term for this.
Again, I don't think a Women's Studies class is "necessary", but I have no problem with it. It still isn't a class I plan on taking, but that's fine.

El Paco said...

Brandon - I have to partly disagree with you - a man who isn't sandwich-hungry isn't a real man.

And Katherine, it's Mario Kart, not Mario Cart. Jeez - get your facts straight

bballinsupasta said...

i agree with nick in that people don't really attach gender to words that have man in them...but all men like sandwiches...i think that men should take more women's studies classes

Manal said...

I think, like everyone else, that its good there is such a course for people who are interested and would like to pursue such a topic. I thought that the class would teach about women authors and read their literature. However, if its a class that is suppose to make women feel as if they can now accomplish things because they are taking the class, then it seems a little weak. Women should be able to feel that way even if they aren't taking a class simply about women and their past achievements. They should have more confidence.

Manal said...

I also agree that not all words with man in them are associated with gender roles. People write papers in which "he" is used to refer to female and male. I don't think people should now start making big deals out of such small things. From the start, people have used mankind as a generic term. It doesn't help, that man was in fact created first in most creation stories and then Eve. I guess, thats why in the past men felt superior, but terms like these are not, in my opinion, there to hurt anyone's feelings.

El Paco said...

This is a long thread.

Margaret said...

Reading blogs always gives me a headache.

No, Women's Studies is not necessary, but it's nice to have. I'd consider taking it, but I'd honestly rather take an art class or something. The word "feminist" has a negative connotation. What does that say about our society?

Women's Studies should be a celebration of accomplishments. The fact that we have to even talk about this testifies to the fact that we are not considered equal.
And I agree with John, we never really will be.

It's also not fair to say that guys seeing girls as just a pretty face is justification for feeling indignant. There are TONS of women who dissect men for their physical value. Everyone does it, it's natural. The physical purpose of every person's life is to procreate. Judging people by appearance is going to happen. If you want healthy babies, you're going to want to mate with the one that looks best to you.

Men are generally physically stronger and faster and so, on a primitive level, men had dominance. They hunted and provided protection for the family. The women took care of the children and prepared meals. Instinctively, men want to protect women so we became a "weaker" gender.

Lastly, studies show women are better at multi-tasking while men deal with things singly. Men and women have different strengths, this just has to be accepted.