Not all feminists are man-hating lesbians and not all women who you think are feminists are actually “feminists.” I could tell you about how the early 1920s women’s suffrage movement was about white supremacy, or that Margaret Sanger, an activist and the founder of Planned Parenthood, was even a eugenicist who believed in eliminating an “unfit” and “inferior class” of people. But where most might think about a radical feminist like Valerie Solanes who wanted to “eliminate the male-sex,” that’s not at all the reason as to why you should take a women’s studies course.
Women’s studies is more than just about gender; it’s about race, sexuality and responsibility. It’s about recognizing a problem and finding a solution. Women’s history is one filled with struggle and misunderstandings. The 19th Amendment is revered because of its impact on women’s rights, yet most Black and Latina women would not see this right extended to them until the mid-60s to 70s. In addition, the women’s liberation movement of the 1960s itself had to be split up into different branches to accommodate for all the racism, homophobia and classism of the main branch. In this sense, “feminism” has no single meaning because it can mean whatever someone wants it to mean. There are radicals and womanists and Marxists, all of which just happen to have their own theories and beliefs about what it means to be a woman, a human being.
There’s an imbalance between males and females when it comes to taking a women’s studies course. Walk into a lecture and chances are that you’ll probably see more girls than guys there. The importance of men taking a gender studies course is undervalued. It’s important for them to be involved in conversations that pertain to discrimination in the work place, at home and in society as a whole. The misconception that such courses only speak on women’s issues is absurd. They aren’t about blaming men for all of the world’s problems; take a class and you’ll find out that blame is on both sides. These classes go deeper into issues that courses in psychology or sociology may just lightly touch on. Students get to see both sides of history. The purpose of learning about the struggles of whole generations is to not repeat the mistakes of the past. Women’s studies is about constantly making progress by recognizing the faults and merits of those before us.
No matter your race, gender or sexuality, you should take a women’s studies course. It will teach you what it means to be an individual in society. You’ll be able to ask the big who, what, when, where and why questions every other major doesn’t go into as deeply. Being honest about history is an incredible part of women’s studies because nothing is sugar-coated. The philosophy is raw, real and blunt. Do not underestimate the skills you can gain from taking this subject.
If it isn’t so obvious already, the humanities are under attack. One day, when we live in a world like that of Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451, questions that really ask you to think will go largely unnoticed. The struggles of people outside our country will be a thing of the past and the only part of life that will matter will most likely just be our own. Try to consider taking that class that, for many years, has gone scorned by people who do not understand its value. Think about what you are to gain from looking through another person’s eyes and learning that the world currently revolves around 7.8 different experiences.