Feminism lost and found

This article is getting a lot of attention on the women’s studies mailing lists. To me, it looks like a smart feminist took a really awful women’s studies class and turned her back on feminism. Then she re-discovered feminism though activism and the internet. Worries have been raised about her negative attitude toward women’s studies. But I think she’s right to have a negative attitude toward the classes she took (if her description is an accurate one*). The real worry, I guess, is that those who don’t know may wrongly take her experience to represent the nature of women’s studies in general.

*And I don’t particularly see a reason to doubt it– there are bad teachers in every field.

4 thoughts on “Feminism lost and found

  1. I took a women’s history class in college and didn’t like or agree with the teacher’s style or approach (not for the same reasons as the author) but I wouldn’t bash Women’s Studies as a whole because of it. Sounds pretty childish.

  2. Where in the article does she bash women’s studies as a whole? I didn’t see that. She is telling a personal story about her own relationship to feminism, and about the role this class played in it. And face it, speaking as one who is cross-listed in women’s studies, has fought for its existence in several universities, and strongly believes in its intellectual and political value, women’s studies classes often ARE filled with just this kind of hubristic and idiotic crap. We can all recognize elements of the class that are common in bad women’s studies classes, but a universalization isn’t required nor was it made. I really liked this article.

  3. I found universalization here:
    “…if my professor’s word was Feminist Gospel, then I wasn’t sure where I belonged any longer. I was just sure that, if she was the Perfect Feminist, then I wasn’t willing to sacrifice what I thought about women’s equality to be one.”

    I make a more complete comment at HuffPo, my main point being that professors and classes can suck in any department. I’m glad she found her feminist niche online. But no need to denigrate the one (university) to elevate the other (Internet).

  4. How awful for her. I sort of expected that crap from a wealthy white Albertan male Catholic philosophy prof when it happened to me. But the departments here that can do no wrong in my opinion are Women’s Studies and Archaeology. If any of the WS people here started spewing Sarah Palin’s rhetoric with Andrea Dworkin’s work as its justification, and tried to call that feminism, they’d send the poor woman to a psychiatrist.

    On the brighter side of my grievances with that philosophy prof: the department chair has reassured me that nobody thinks I was making threats. My snarky email message,”Old Eastern proverb say…’you can save face or you can save ass'” was interpreted as the joke I meant it to be. Yet another annoying thing about philosophy people. It took them 7 freaking months to reach that conclusion!!!

    Too bad the author never worked up the nerve to try any more WS courses. It would be well worth her while to make her peace with the discipline. As much as I’m not a religious person, I feel some Sojourner Truth coming on. Her speech is up there with Janis Joplin’s version of Summertime on my list of beautiful sounds. How sad that any woman would willfully turn her back on the opportunity to listen to such beautiful voices.

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