Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Women's Studies

I like many other feminists and academics, don't quite know what to do with David Horowitz. He's releasing another book, called One-Party Classroom. It's pretty much exactly like his last book that attacked professors, colleges, and universities for being too liberal, except that this time he steps up his criticism of women's studies departments.

This isn't to say that women's studies departments aren't deserving of criticism -- many very liberal people criticize how women-centric they are and how they don't necessarily encompass alternate expressions of gender and how they are marginalized. I, in fact, never took a gender or women's studies class in college, even though some mistake me for a women's studies major. You don't necessarily need a class to learn how to pick apart cultural hegemony, and you could even argue that the kinds of students taking these classes aren't the ones that really need to learn to look at gender from a new perspective.

But it seems weird to attack women's studies departments for not including conservative perspectives. The whole point of the discipline, after all, it to point out that the conservative perspective on gender is the dominant one and there there are many very small things that affect our actions without our even realizing it. This can only lead me to conclude that Horowitz isn't making a real intellectual argument about diversity of viewpoints, but rather an ideological one. It seems clear he views women's studies classes as threatening a viewpoint that firmly places men in positions of power, and he goes about attacking it accordingly.

So maybe, after I've written all that, it's true that we should just ignore Horowitz. After all, it's not like women's studies departments are going anywhere. In fact, the opposite may be true. As women break more and more barriers, looking at gender constructs from a critical perspective becomes more important, not less.

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