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June 27, 2006

Comments

The Happy Feminist

Right. I find it tough to believe too.

The Gonzman

Yeah, and I'm sure ol' whats-her-name who didn't even want male students in her class - and was supported far and wide by a significant number of feminists, women's studies professors, and such - was also an aberration. Didn't really happen. Even though it was supported, she lost, so it doesn't count.

Indiana University. Bloomington. Circa 1994 - maybe 1993. As for the name of the instructor, or the course, it beats me a dozen years later, they were both eminently forgettable. I did my time in class, kept my mouth shut after the first smackdown for questioning the orthodoxy, collected my passing grade to keep my job, and moved on. For a .003 averaged into my career GPA, it just wasn't worth it to fight it more than a single appeal. Like the other two classes I had to take, I learned my lesson.

And as my lawyer at the time said, "Well, if you really believe she's going to admit in court to actionable statements from a private he said/she said conversation, I'll be happy to take your money."

The Happy Feminist

So she didn't openly admit anything. She made her statements in a "private he said/she said" conversation.

Mr. Bad

My comment to Hugo in a private communication nicely sums up my feelings on the topic. To wit:

Hugo,

My biggest objection to credentials vis-a-vis women's studies professors is that apparently one does not need to have any in order to teach WS. Rather, it seems that the most important 'credential' that one needs to succeed in WS is to adhere to the often-times unsupportable (from a fact-based standpoint) belief system of feminism.

For example, you have readily admitted that your Ph.D. - and the dissertation written as major requirement for it - is in an area completely unrelated to feminism, women's health, gender, sexuality, family dynamics, etc., and yet you teach classes addressing all of those issues in the women's studies department. In essence, it's like saying that one could have a Ph.D. in botany and be a professor in the math department. In fact, according to the model you present one needs have no special training or education in the topic in order to be a professor of women's studies. The notion is ludicrous for those of us who work in science and engineering, and IMO equally ludicrous to the population at large. That's why I believe that WS is seen a joke by many, many people.

It's really that simple.

As an addendum to this, I can understand that some departments and programs focus on a single ideology or point of point of view; one sees this in, e.g., Hebrew Studies, African American Studies, etc. What bothers me about women's studies is that it isn't really Women's Studies, it's Feminist Studies. If it were truly Women's Studies it would mainstream the philosophies of prominent conservative women like Phyllis Schafly, Wendy McElroy, Cathy Young, et al. Using another analogy, it be like a "Religious Studies" department with only Christian professors and teaching from a purely Christian philosophical point of view. In such a case calling that department "Religious Studies" would be inaccurate, misleading and IMO false advertising. Thus, I think that at the very least women's studies as it exists now should rightfully be called "feminist studies" or something similar.

Finally, Gonz, her name was Mary Daly and she was widely supported by the feminist community. And I'm not at all surprised that folks around here don't believe your account of your experience. I've heard similar stories from men who've had to take WS courses for diversity requirements (a neat little trick to ensure work for WS profs!) but inevitably their accounts are denied and dismissed. This is de rigeur, at least from my experience. But then again, my experience probably doesn't count either.

Hugo

Mary Daly was famous for excluding men from one of her courses, but that was at Boston College, not IU, where Gonz went.

Many feminists were troubled by Mary Daly's decision to treat male students differently. Hers is an extraordinary position, far out of the mainstream of the pedagogical techniques of those of us who teach gender and women's studies.

Mr. Bad

Hi Hugo,

I understand that Mary Daly taught at a school other than the one Gonz attended, and will accept your word that 'many' feminists were troubled by her decision to shamelessly - no, proudly - discriminate against men in her classes. However, while I won't try to speak for Gonz, I do think that his point was that Daly was 1) not the only feminist WS professor to discriminate against men (Gonz's experience is by no means unusual based on the accounts I've heard from men enrolled in WS courses at my institution, a Tier 1 research university), and 2) that the criticism of her practices by other feminists was mild at best and mostly non-existant, at least until the doo doo hit the fan and she got fired for it (I never heard any criticism of her practices before she got in hot water). Contrast this with how feminists came out of the woodwork from institutions far and wide to rally behind Nancy Hopkins' crusade to castigate Larry Summers for his honest mistake and one gets a clear picture that feminists at least appear to abide by a code of selective outrage, based mostly on whether or not the 'perpetrator' is feminist in good standing.

There are always exceptions to the rule, e.g., feminists who were "troubled" by Daly's treatment of men. However, in general the silence from the feminist community when their colleagues act thusly speaks volumes and makes the MRA case far better than we could. And thus, it presents a clear and unambiguous statement about what women's studies is all about, at least to us plebes who aren't privy to the 'inside scoop' of the feminists in the WS crowd.

mythago

Hugo, you're not getting how this works. If you can scrounge a Liz Kates or a thirty-year-old Robin Morgan quote from somewhere, you can claim "many feminists" agree with/believe/support [terrible thing]. If you try to do the same for MRAs, you're cherry-picking.

and possibly illegal discrimination

This is the kind of thing that plaintiffs' lawyers dream about, and I really wonder about the competence of Gonzman's lawyer. If the administration upheld the prof's decision, there is a paper trail. If the professor issued homework, graded tests, and reported grades, there was a paper trail. If she's ever had male students, ditto.

Beste

http://hugoboy.typepad.com/hugo_schwyzer/2006/01/well_heres_an_e.html#comments

perplexed

The abscence of a "men's studies" is proof enough that WS is pure sexism. It's foundations are based on sexist beliefs (legacy of a perceived 'guilt' that today's men are supposedly burdened with, and the idea that women are oppressed in western society when the law and media are whole-heartedly feminist).

That's the elephant standing in front of us. It's so big, it's easy to not see it.

In fact, WS should simply disappear and be replaced with gender studies - an exploration of both genders and how they both suffer discrimination in certain areas, and also a celebration of both genders and how they often work well together.

Antigone

I am so freaking sick of people saying "Why isn't there any men's studies" or "why isn't there any "white history". BECAUSE YOU DON'T NEED IT!

All I read about in school is a bunch of dead white guys. Let's look at my syllabis: European history: women, grand total one (Queen Elizabeth). The rest: dead white guys (mostly military). Contemporary philosophy women, grand total zero. American philosophy, women, grand total ONE (Ruth Macklin). Biology, number of women, zero (plenty about Darwin, and other dead white guys). Aviation (all of my freaking classes) number of women, ONE (Amelia Earhart). European Literature, women, two (Margery Kemp and Julian of Norwich, and they were optional reading). Fine Arts, women, ZERO. American Political thought, women: ONE (Betty Friedan).

Looks like to me that white guys are pretty well covered when it comes to classes. You have plenty of role models to choose from, and you have plenty of examples of what you can achieve. Women don't get these same examples when we go to class: if I was to go off of my classes, I would end up thinking women must not have contributed anything to the world, so what can I do? This isn't true (at all) and it isn't healthy. And yet, you guys bitch about about ONE section of the school that focuses on the achievements of people not like you, and you freak out and rail about being sexist. Forgive me if I'm not crying rivers for the supposed sexism in women's studies.

The Happy Feminist

The thing about credentialing in WS is that (from what I understand), WS is not a discipline in itself. It is a subject matter that is approached in an interdisciplinary fashion. Thus, WS professors may have doctorates in a variety of disciplines. They apply their knowledge of their discipline (historical study for example) to the study of women.

It is not at all like having a botany Ph.D teach history. It is like having a history Ph.D apply his knowledge of historical reasearch and study to the particular subject matter of women's studies.


The Happy Feminist

Full disclosure/disclaimer: I am not involved in Women's Studies at all. I took only WS class in college (Feminist Theologies) so all my knowledge of the field is by osmosis. If I am wrong in my assessment, I hope those with more knowledge of WS will correct me!

The Happy Feminist

oops. That should have read, "I only took ONE WS class in college."

Q Grrl

Gonz says:

"I recieved a "B" in one of the classes I had to take because the feminist professor said that men got knocked down a letter grade automatically as an object lesson. She was upheld by the university administration.

I can't regard that as "serious" academics - just activism."

Interesting. You don't ever say who or what class was being taught. For all we know it was Macroeconomics. And how do you know the professor was a feminist? She could just not have liked male students. Or maybe she had a point, who knows. Certainly your claims are just that: claims, insubstantial at that. You lead us to believe she was a feminist because you say so, and you lead us to believe that this was a women's studies course. Again, it could have been a course on microinvetebrates. Who really knows.

FTR, IU at Bloomington has a Gender Studies department.

As for all of you grown men whining about the non-academic nature and politically charged ideologies of feminism, what the hell do you think a course in US History is? Or, hell, English Lit? Certainly the Canterbury Tales is politically charged and greatly biased. Or Shakespeare. Shoot, I bet even Communications courses are fraught with political ramifications and boundries. And we better not think about Kant, or Nietzsche, or Freud, or Dante, Copernicus, Galileo, let alone Jesus Christ.

Q Grrl

Perplexed writes:

"It's foundations are based on sexist beliefs"

Or they are based on a less than 90 years right to women's suffrage, the multi-century practice of denying girls and women formal educations, and reams of knowledge lost because it was not deemed worthy of male standards.

Mr. Bad

Q Grrl,

Every alleged wrong that you listed can be more accurately attributed to classism, not sexism. At least in the U.S., women from wealthy and/or influencial families had the vote, went to college, etc., the same as men. And similarly, men who were not from wealthy and/or influential families were not able to vote, go to college, etc. Women recieved suffrage in the U.S. in I believe 1919, about 50 years after men did. Before that, only men and women who owned land could vote. However, since you're bringing up extremely old history, let's look at the draft, a much more recent bit of history (indeed, men - and only men - still have to register with the Selective Service; women have never had to do so): Many thousands of men have died fighting wars after being drafted against their will and yet did not have the right to vote because they were younger than 21 years old. Women have never had any obligation to serve their country before being granted all of the rights and privileges of full citizenship the way men have.

The above is one of many, many examples of topics that should be examined in any legitimate "gender studies" curricula (or for that matter a Men's Studies curricula that would follow the current model of "women's studies," i.e., feminist studies), however, I don't believe such arguments are common at all in WS courses. Thus, what we really have in the U.S. is narrowly-tailored feminist studies, not women's studies. Which IMO is why people are skeptical and see it as not being a legitimate academic discipline; it doesn't appear to even come close to what most of us consider rigorous academics and the fact that there's a considerable disconnect between the rhetoric and reality does nothing to foster trust of women's studies departments.

The Happy Feminist

Mr. Bad, 60s era feminists were frequently involved in opposing the draft.

Also, the draft and the right to vote at 18 have always been covered in all standard American history courses I have ever taken.

Hugo

My students always find it fascinating that during Reconstruction, the US Congress (made up almost entirely of white men) was more willing to countenance the enfranchisement of black male former slaves than they were of their own wives and sisters. Says something about the degree to which a belief in female inferiority and separate spheres was even stronger than racial bias. That isn't normally taught in US History courses -- though it should be!

Q Grrl

Mr. Bad:

"Every alleged wrong"

What part of what I said is controvertable? What part isn't true?

If it was a class issue, then why did women, as a group, have to petition for the right? Certainly you aren't that uneducated, are you?

But you know, if ever there was a class issue, let's talk about the draft and which men have had to serve and which men have not. Funny too that you should whine about women and the draft while saying that women being barred from colleges is a class issue -- wasn't it just within the last two decades that women could enroll at VMI or the Citadel?

Irony much Mr. Bad? (the irony too being that I seriously doubt that you, yourself, mister big guy, have been drafted.)

The Gonzman

If the administration upheld the prof's decision, there is a paper trail. If the professor issued homework, graded tests, and reported grades, there was a paper trail. If she's ever had male students, ditto.

"I don't have a dog, my dog doesn't bite, that's not my dog." I'm sure Happy will be familiar with the quote, and the context.

It's interesting when one actually complains, and presents evidence that one earned grade "X" how the story changes, and gets shovelled under the rubric of "Feedback." That's right, not "Participation" but "feedback." Even though I gae the proper and prescribed answers on tests, she felt my answers didn't demonstrate "empathy" and "understanding."

Which is probably true, but still subjective, and still a fancy way of saying "He wasn't successfully indoctrinated so I lowered his grade." - Worse, IMO, than honestly admitting "I don't think men can ever really understand, so I dock them on the grade."

The Happy Feminist

The point, Gonz, is not whether it happened or not. The point is that you can't say that your professor's actions were condoned by feminists the world over if your professor's actions were only part of a private conversation. I haven't been arguing in the alternative at all here.

Q Grrl

Hey Mr. Bad, I just did a little quick research to correct the lies and false implications that you made above.

"Women have never had any obligation to serve their country before being granted all of the rights and privileges of full citizenship the way men have."

What's false is the claim to a long history that men had allegedly had of being conscripted in order to gain their full rights and priveleges of citizenship. Quite interestingly, the US did not have a formal conscription tied to citizenship until 1917 when the US was a war; even more interestingly, it wasn't until 1940 that the Selective Service was founded.

Women's suffrage was granted in 1920.

So, Mr. Bad, which men are you pulling outta yer ass to make your point, I mean your false point? Obviously men got their full citizenship in the US for quite some time, simply by having a penis.

Booyah.

Mr. Bad

Q Grrl,

Whining? I didn't raise these topics, you did.

Women were not barred from college. For centuries wealthy women have been able to go to college, as have wealthy men. VMI and The Citadel? Smith, Barnard, Wellesley, Bryn Mawr, etc., etc. Compare here with here. No doubt that looks equal or favoring men to you. All your arguments on this matter are either false or misleading.

Universal women's suffrage was passed in 1920, but women could vote in New Jersey since the Union was founded; Wyoming had women's suffrage in the 1890s; there are other examples of individual states that allowed all women to vote prior to the 19th(?) Amendment. According to your selective 'research,' conscription started for men just about the time women recieved universal suffrage. Conscription, draft - semantics. The real irony is that women recieved full rights and privileges without obligation just about the time men were required to risk sacrificing their lives for those same rights and privileges. If men didn't submit then they lost many rights and privileges that women automatically enjoy (e.g.,they went to jail, couldn't vote, couldn't hold govt. jobs, couldn't get govt. loans or other benefits, etc.), and this was the case up unti Nixon ended the draft in the mid-1970s. There's nothing false in saying the 1) men have been discriminated against re. conscription/draft far more recently than women were re. suffrage, and 2) that 18 - 20 year old men who were drafted and died in war prior to July 1, 1971 (about the time the draft ended) sacrificed their life for a country that did not allow them to vote for the male and female leaders who sent them to die. Further, women have never been required to serve at all. If you think I'm wrong, then please, tell me what obligations to their country women have had to submit to before being granted full rights and privileges.

You're correct Q Grrl, I wasn't drafted, but I did have to register. Let's see your draft card.

And yes, some people were able to pass on the draft, but since I was around back when it was active I believe I have a better understanding of who got the passes and who didn't. For the most part the primary determinant was political connectedness, not class. And yes, class can be used as a proxy for political connectedness, but not always. Some men from very wealthy families were drafted and some men from poor but politically-connected families were given deferrments.

The fact that women's suffrage is dragged out by feminists and women's studies professors (like you Hugo) and students as a legitimate issue for contemporary grievances, while at the same time the very - and much more recent - real injustice against men perpetrated by conscription/the draft and the accompanying requirement of service for only men (without the right of suffrage for 18 - 20 year olds) is yet another example of the lack of balance in wome..., er, feminist studies. Arguments like "Obviously men got their full citizenship in the US for quite some time, simply by having a penis. Booyah." in light of the facts prove my point far better than I can.

heebie jeebies

Q Grrl said:
----------------------------------
What's false is the claim to a long history that men had allegedly had of being conscripted in order to gain their full rights and priveleges of citizenship. Quite interestingly, the US did not have a formal conscription tied to citizenship until 1917 when the US was a war; even more interestingly, it wasn't until 1940 that the Selective Service was founded.

Women's suffrage was granted in 1920.
-----------------------------------

Interesting indeed.

In your post we see that the wrongful practice of denying women the vote was ended in 1920.

On the other hand we see wrongful laws being MADE against men as recently as 1940.

So, complaining about historical wrongs that were corrected almost 90 years ago is right and good.
Conversely, complaining about wrongs that continue to exist to this day is not o.k. because they are trumped by the other mentioned historical wrongs (which don't exist anymore)

It just sounds like revenge. 'They deserve it' I guess.

-------------------
Obviously men got their full citizenship in the US for quite some time, simply by having a penis.
-------------------
If citizenship was tied to service as you state in your post then not all men would get it simply by having a penis. Only those who served. (and had a penis - although I don't know if the amount of citizenship was tied to the amount of penis)

Do women now get their citizenship by simply having a vagina or are there other qualifications needed?

-------------------
Booyah.
-------------------
I like the cool stuff, too!

Hugo

Okay, folks, thread drift is starting to emerge. Future comments need to be directed more narrowly to the subject of this post, not the whole sweeping panorama of American history.

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