Last month, the student society at Simon Fraser University in British Columbia, Canada, approved $30,000 to establish a men’s center. The center’s main supporter, a student named Keneen Midgely, said the volunteer-run men’s center would only be equitable, considering SFU already has had a women’s center since 1974. It would be a space, he pointed out, for men to support each other and deconstruct masculinity and gender roles just like SFU women can.
I couldn’t agree more. Yet somehow, establishment of the SFU men’s center is controversial. Instead of being seen in a positive light as a “safe space” for men, it is being seen as an unnecessary, even frivolous, expense to give men their own space in what is already a patriarchal culture. Keep reading »
I took gender and sexuality studies as a minor in college, which is what my school offered instead of “women’s studies.” I assumed at first that they were just being PC with the name. But then when I took the first class, an introduction to the discipline, I realized it truly wasn’t just about women. We learned about constructs like gender and sexuality, yes, but we also devoted a lot of attention to the intersectionality of race, class, religion and able-bodiedness. That introductory instructor encouraged us not to assume gender was what individuals identified with first and cautioned us against ignoring other ways people are oppressed by focusing solely on gender. Gender studies was actually the hip new term for the discipline; “women’s studies,” on the other hand, sounded hopelessly old-school. I took four gender and sexuality studies classes and only one — “Women and The Media” — focused on women almost exclusively (that class was about media depictions). The other courses, however, were far more intersectional and examined all the different ways people can be oppressed; for example, “The History of Prostitution” talked a lot about how female sex workers flourished during Victorian times in part because men felt they had no other outlet.
I never took a “men’s studies” class that focused primarily on men. But if I could go back in time, I might have majored in G&SS instead of minored and taken a course strictly about masculinity. After all, gender is so intersectional and I do want to learn more about that particular construct. Approximately, 100 colleges around the country offer “men’s studies” courses — one would assume in the gender studies, sociology or anthropology departments — and though it’s not offered as a major anywhere yet, the proliferation of these courses is a good sign that in the coming years, masculinity will be critiqued and evaluated just as much as femininity has been by “women’s studies.”
So if G&SS is now incorporating the study of women’s and men’s experiences together, then what the heck is “male studies” about? Keep reading »
Sharpen your pencils, little monsters: The University of Virginia is offering a class on Lady Gaga called “GaGa for Gaga: Sex, Gender, and Identity.” Taught by grad student Christa Romanosky, the Lady Gaga class is a prerequisite course to essay writing on the theme of how the mama monster pushes social boundaries. Students will listen to Gaga’s music and watch her music videos, but also read about her influence on feminism and gender expression. UVA has also offered Harry Potter-themed classes to make prerequisite essay courses more interesting. Keep reading »
I have a lot of regrets about my college education.
I regret that tuition was $40,000 a year, so that my classmates were mostly rich, white kids. I regret that I am paying back thousands in student loans. I regret that my journalism program forced me to take an introductory class on reporting, even though I’d already written articles for my hometown newspaper for two years. I regret that I took two different photography classes, but haven’t snapped a single freakin’ photo since. I regret that I wasted time, money, and precious sanity on a required math class that gave me the anxiety attacks of your worst nightmares.
And most of all, I regret that I took as many gender and sexuality studies courses as I did. Keep reading »