Author: has written 213 posts for this blog.

Guest Bloggers are most welcome to diversify the range of views and experiences presented on this blog. The opinions of Guest Bloggers do not necessarily represent other bloggers on Feministe: differing voices are important to us. Readers are cordially invited to follow our guidelines to submit a Guest Post pitch for consideration.
Return to: Homepage | Blog Index

87 Responses

  1. PeggyLuWho
    PeggyLuWho March 20, 2013 at 10:43 am |

    “If you want to take gender studies, that’s fine. Go to a private school and take it, but I don’t want to subsidize that if that’s not going to get someone a job,” McCrory said on a national radio show.

    Maybe if you only want to take courses that will get you a job, go to a vocational school, and not a university. Duh. But this isn’t really about job preparedness, or he’d be calling out Philosophy majors, too.

    (I’m going to get piled on by the Philosophy majors now, aren’t I? )

    1. TomSims
      TomSims March 20, 2013 at 11:05 am |

      “As a low-skilled worker, it’s great to know that I am inherently lacking in the larger perspective because of my job.”

      Amen. I hear ya!

    2. matlun
      matlun March 20, 2013 at 11:50 am |

      But this isn’t really about job preparedness, or he’d be calling out Philosophy majors, too.

      I think he is. He is making a general argument against liberal arts and in favor of more direct vocational training (see the OP). Also, according to the article it was Bill Bennett (the host) who brought up gender studies as an example.

      (I hope you do not take that as a pile-on, and I never finished my Philosophy major anyway…)

      1. PeggyLuWho
        PeggyLuWho March 20, 2013 at 11:54 am |

        This is what I get for being lazy and not actually reading the linked article. I failed at the internet already, and it’s not even 9 a.m. yet. I hang my head in shame. (is the funny coming across? I hope it’s coming across)

    3. a lawyer
      a lawyer March 20, 2013 at 3:38 pm |

      He is.

      They generally want more STEM and less “write a thesis on whatever you want” kind of stuff.

      Philosophy majors get mocked already for that, though.

  2. Barnacle Strumpet
    Barnacle Strumpet March 20, 2013 at 10:48 am |

    I find it problematic, the idea that a person requires a college education, specifically in a liberal arts degree like Women’s Studies, to have critical analytic skills, or to have ” a deeper understanding of oppression that transcends divisions of race, gender, class, and sexuality. ”

    It implies that people without such studies must lack those things. And if it doesn’t make that implication, and people without such studies have those things, then what is the value of paying thousands of dollars to get such things when you can get them elsewhere for less cost?

    I’m not even an oppenent of Women’s Studies programs. They certainly have as much right to stand as history or art programs, or a lot of other ones. If people want them to exist, want to study them, then they have value simply from that, and should exist.

    But this…

    Their positions of privilege necessitate large number of low-skilled workers who lack the larger perspective needed to expose and critique wealth and unearned privilege.

    Acting like anyone who doesn’t take Women’s Studies is somehow too stupid to see the bigger picture as far as wealth and privilege goes… that’s kind of offensive, especially when the majority of people who can’t go to college are the economically disprivileged. As a low-skilled worker, it’s great to know that I am inherently lacking in the larger perspective because of my job.

    An aside, but McCrory’s attack on Swahili’s usefulness is ironic, given that it’s on the military’s Strategic Language List, iirc.

    1. Evan Carden
      Evan Carden March 20, 2013 at 11:24 am |

      Where are you getting the block quote? I’m not finding it in the piece.

      1. macavitykitsune
        macavitykitsune March 20, 2013 at 11:30 am |

        Seconding the question, since I can’t find anything like that sentence in the OP on Nelson’s blog either.

        1. PeggyLuWho
          PeggyLuWho March 20, 2013 at 11:38 am |

          It’s in the article linked in the first sentence.

        2. Barnacle Strumpet
          Barnacle Strumpet March 20, 2013 at 11:39 am |

          It’s from here: attacked women’s studies, as linked by OP. The quoted can be found by ctrl+F’ing the first sentence, or you can just look for the paragraph above McCrory’s head.

        3. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune March 20, 2013 at 11:44 am |

          Oh, I see, not Nelson herself, then. Thanks.

        4. Evan Carden
          Evan Carden March 20, 2013 at 11:46 am |

          Thanks. However, that piece is written by someone else.

        5. Evan Carden
          Evan Carden March 20, 2013 at 11:47 am |

          Wow. I fail at replying. Sorry about the cross-posts. Clearly I need to either type faster or think faster.

        6. PeggyLuWho
          PeggyLuWho March 20, 2013 at 11:48 am |

          Well, clearly if you’d taken Women’s Studies, you could think faster.

          [end stupid joke]

    2. Jill
      Jill March 20, 2013 at 11:43 am | *

      Acting like anyone who doesn’t take Women’s Studies is somehow too stupid to see the bigger picture as far as wealth and privilege goes… that’s kind of offensive, especially when the majority of people who can’t go to college are the economically disprivileged. As a low-skilled worker, it’s great to know that I am inherently lacking in the larger perspective because of my job.

      Agreed. But Danielle didn’t say that, or anything like it. So let’s stick to what her post actually said.

      1. Barnacle Strumpet
        Barnacle Strumpet March 20, 2013 at 12:13 pm |

        And I never attributed the quote to her. I assumed reading and discussing the linked articles as well as the posts themselves was fairly common, but if it’s some kind of faux paus, then I apologize.

        1. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune March 20, 2013 at 12:19 pm |

          It’s not a faux pas necessarily, but it’s generally “done” to indicate where you’re getting the quote from, if it’s not in the OP. Maybe a spillover thread, if you want to discuss it? I wasn’t very pleased with that post either, so.

        2. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune March 20, 2013 at 12:29 pm |

          Argh. That was re: quote attribution, not bringing up other stuff. Not trying to contradict Jill, just being wharrgarbly in the morning, apparently. I shall hie me to the coffee now.

        3. Evan Carden
          Evan Carden March 20, 2013 at 12:46 pm |

          I think its a difference in netiquette, more than one or another of us having made a mistake. I viewed the link as ‘this was where I got the background facts.’ I interpreted your comment [possibly wrongly] as viewing the link as ‘I endorse the content of this link.’

          In the former case, the right place to comment on the contents of the link is at the linked site. In the latter case, a right place to comment is here.

          I think macavitykitsune is right and we’re heading into spillover territory here.

    3. hotpot
      hotpot March 20, 2013 at 11:44 am |

      It implies that people without such studies must lack those things. And if it doesn’t make that implication, and people without such studies have those things, then what is the value of paying thousands of dollars to get such things when you can get them elsewhere for less cost?

      I don’t think it has to be an either-or. You can say that anyone can have critical or analytic skills and also that an education can provide valuable tools to enhance those skills. I mean, I think I’ve done a pretty good job at reading and studying various issues for myself since leaving college and joining the full-time workforce, but I was definitely learning a lot more as a full time student and the discipline of the classroom.

      1. samanthab
        samanthab March 20, 2013 at 12:46 pm |

        And part of the reason you are able to continue to learn about feminism is that programs of women’s studies exist, and professors can keep writing books and graduates can provide commentary. No matter what the subject, academia is about adding continued nuance to our understandings of the world. Academia doesn’t just exist to educate undergrads. It exists to educate all of us.

    4. Hina
      Hina March 20, 2013 at 2:05 pm |

      Look at countries where they don’t incorporate liberal arts subjects in their academics and you wont find the idea problematic. Humans have to be taught everything through the use of language and that’s why liberal arts education is important. Pakistan for example currently has the education system McCrory wants to see here and all it does is raises people to act like robots.

      1. Barnacle Strumpet
        Barnacle Strumpet March 20, 2013 at 2:39 pm |

        Really? Those of us without a liberal arts education act like robots? This is really something that you think is okay to say?

        1. Hina
          Hina March 20, 2013 at 3:26 pm |

          They do lack critical thinking skills. I’m not saying its impossible to acquire this skill without a liberal arts education but it is harder.

      2. RichardVW
        RichardVW March 21, 2013 at 1:41 pm |

        Look at countries where they don’t incorporate liberal arts subjects in their academics and you wont find the idea problematic.

        Barnacle Strumpet was responding to an implied false dichotomy located in the linked Omid Safi piece. You’re responding to an argument that wasn’t made.

        Humans have to be taught everything through the use of language and that’s why liberal arts education is important.

        That is a non sequitur.

        Pakistan for example currently has the education system McCrory wants to see here and all it does is raises people to act like robots.

        Once again, you’re responding to an argument that wasn’t made.

        Tears in rain, Hina, tears in rain.

      3. Socks
        Socks March 23, 2013 at 4:10 pm |

        I’ve worked hard over the years to cultivate a coldly logical way of looking at the world. It’s served me well.

        If that makes me a robot, then so be it.

  3. tomek
    tomek March 20, 2013 at 11:27 am |

    [Paraphrase: Women's studies? But what about the menz? ~ Mod Team]

  4. Athenia
    Athenia March 20, 2013 at 12:16 pm |

    Taking a women’s studies class would have definitely helped this dude in his duties as governor. It should be a requirement if you want to be in politics quite frankly.

    I constantly tell my male friends and family that taking a women’s studies class—no matter whether you are studying pharmacy, business etc. will help you.

    1. Evan Carden
      Evan Carden March 20, 2013 at 12:40 pm |

      I think you’re joking about requirements for being in politics, but if you’re not, let me register extreme disagreement with the notion of any higher education (or any education at all for that matter) being a requirement for running for office, or working in politics.

      1. macavitykitsune
        macavitykitsune March 20, 2013 at 12:46 pm |

        let me register extreme disagreement with the notion of any higher education (or any education at all for that matter) being a requirement for running for office, or working in politics.

        Speaking as a person from a country where most of the people working in politics have little or no (higher) education, let me register extreme disagreement with your extreme disagreement. I don’t want to require people to have degrees, but I do expect them to be educated on and able to discuss their constituents’ issues. Which, yes, means some knowledge of women’s issues, men’s issues, gay issues, trans issues, race issues, blah de blah isssues. Illiteracy Pride isn’t half as attractive a movement when you’re the one being ruled by people who adhere to it, I assure you.

        1. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune March 20, 2013 at 12:47 pm |

          (And I’m talking village/district level politics here ftr.)

        2. Evan Carden
          Evan Carden March 20, 2013 at 12:57 pm |

          I agree that politicians should be able to address their constituents’ concerns. However, attempting to do that by requiring formal education [at least in any environment where education costs the educated money] acts as nothing less than a bar to participation [now, the US has a lot of other bars to participation in place, but I prefer removing them, rather than erecting others].

          And I am entirely unconvinced that any attempt to mandate education [or perhaps I should say schooling, as education can come out of any number of non-school activities] would remain limited to politicians.

          After all, if we accept that politicians need to be educated, shouldn’t we also accept that voters do? Otherwise how can we really trust them to choose the right person and not be bamboozled by trickery? [Asked because it's what would be asked, not because I believe it].

          Also, is Illiteracy Pride a thing? I did a google search and didn’t come up with anything [other than pieces celebrating someone's computer/sports/other field illiteracy].

        3. PeggyLuWho
          PeggyLuWho March 20, 2013 at 1:10 pm |

          There is the stance that people with educations are elitists, ivory tower folks, and not the real, hardworking, true folks. (As if getting a degree isn’t hard fucking work.) Of course, this idea is pushed by Republicans with law degrees. But liberals/Democrats with law degrees are apparently out of touch with farmers and mechanics.

          It’s all BS.

          And the idea that college is just supposed to get you a paycheck on the other side, also BS.

          I think it’s true that anyone can learn on their own what they could learn in college, but college definitely is a more concentrated experience of that stuff. Also, when you’re self taught, it’s harder to catch your blind spots. How do you know to explore a concept deeper if you don’t know the concept exists? You may get there eventually, but in classes, there’s usually someone there who will bring it up. But it’s not perfect and not the end all and be all.

          I don’t know. Six of one, half dozen of another.

        4. Evan Carden
          Evan Carden March 20, 2013 at 1:28 pm |

          At this point, I’ve spent almost a decade in various parts of the university system in the US. I absolutely love it [though I could do without the student loan system...] I certainly didn’t intend to attack it and apologize if I came off as doing so.

          I have, however, known people who neither loved, nor prospered in the university system and I see no evidence that the overlap between being a good student and a good politician is sufficient to justify excluding them from running for office.

        5. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune March 20, 2013 at 1:33 pm |

          Evan, that’s a massive slippery slope there. I expect people to be able to perform jobs they’re paid to do; this is in no way the same as expecting voters to be able to show college degrees. For example, I wouldn’t decide to become an air traffic controller without any training in the things air traffic controllers deal with. Or a heart surgeon, or a french fry maker (yeah, give the chick with fibromyalgia large containers of boiling oil and hot food, that’ll totally go well).

          Why, why, WHY is politics – you know, the thing that affects literally everybody – the one area where you’re comfortable saying nobody has to be educated? Or is it simply that women’s issues/gay rights issues/race issues etc are judged “irrelevant” to politicians’ issues? I suppose in StraightWhiteGuystan that makes perfect sense, but literally everywhere else this is a ridiculous argument.

          Also, let me remind you that you said “any education at all”. If I remember correctly, isn’t elementary education free in the US?

          Also, is Illiteracy Pride a thing? I did a google search and didn’t come up with anything

          It’s not a literal movement, but if you look through news from India at least you’ll come up with lots of politicians – even ones at the state or national level – who say proudly that they never went to high school and can’t read laws, etc. I don’t know about you, maybe I’m just an elitist Romdroid, but a lawmaker who literally can’t read his own laws terrifies me.

        6. Lolagirl
          Lolagirl March 20, 2013 at 1:40 pm |

          There is abig difference between elected officials having some book learning under their belt and the general electorate having whatever degree of formal education. Elected officials are chosen to, in effect, lead the rest of us and govern on our behalfs.

          I despise the weird GOPer/Teabagger anti-intellectualism going around these days. Book learning and education are a good thing, and hopefully it leads one to look outside the four corners of their own mind to better understand others and the issues they face.

        7. Past my expiration date
          Past my expiration date March 20, 2013 at 1:43 pm |

          Why, why, WHY is politics – you know, the thing that affects literally everybody – the one area where you’re comfortable saying nobody has to be educated?

          It’s also the only area I know of where people say they’re qualified for the job by virtue of having zero experience in it.

        8. PeggyLuWho
          PeggyLuWho March 20, 2013 at 1:47 pm |

          “You should hire me because I am not a member of the web design establishment. I will go rogue on your HTML.” Eeep. Run away.

        9. Evan Carden
          Evan Carden March 20, 2013 at 1:45 pm |

          I did say any education at all, though later I move the goalposts. Sorry about that. My argument is not, in fact, about money. It’s about barriers. Whether those barriers are monetary, or educational, or whatever, I am in fact, opposed to them [for politicians, not heart surgeons, obviously].

          We have a barrier to being an elected official, it’s an election. Anything more than that strikes me as open to abuse and simply wrong.

          My earlier argument was definitely a slippery slope argument, but not absurd considering my beloved country’s history of “literacy tests” for voting. While right now the group most active in limiting voting rights would prefer to limit them on a different axis, I’m unconvinced that will remain true. But all that is basically an attempt to justify the preceding paragraph with policy arguments.

          On your final point, I’m uncomfortable with a lawmaker who can’t read his own laws [though presumably he has someone on his staff who can, and does?] but I’m uncomfortable with lots of things politicians do but [barring actual crimes] that’s insufficient to bar them from office, or running for office.

          I’d also like to apologize to the thread generally. I swear I didn’t intend it, but if you read this thread, I seem to be derailing everywhere.

        10. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune March 20, 2013 at 1:52 pm |

          [for politicians, not heart surgeons, obviously]

          Why are you, for some godforsaken reason, comfortable with a guy who has no understanding of fuck-all determining the education, rights, water, food, speech, employment, relationships, laws, etc, etc that everyone is subject to? How is that less a job requiring extensive education, formal or not, than a heart transplant?

          I mean, I’m statistically less likely to need a heart surgeon than I am to need my human rights of speech, movement, work, religion etc. On account of everybody needs those o.O

        11. Evan Carden
          Evan Carden March 20, 2013 at 1:56 pm |

          I’m comfortable with that because I believe that the proper barrier to being an elected official is an election.

      2. Athenia
        Athenia March 20, 2013 at 1:41 pm |

        Yo, did I say university was a requirement? NO. I said a freakin’ women’s studies *class* should be a requirement. This could happen in high school, elementary school—or some class that government puts on on Saturdays that anyone can join for free.

        C’mon.

        1. Evan Carden
          Evan Carden March 20, 2013 at 1:48 pm |

          And I disagree with the notion of education being a requirement for office.

        2. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune March 20, 2013 at 1:54 pm |

          And I disagree with the notion of education being a requirement for office.

          …right, you’re just terminally clueless then. Never mind. Bowing out before I further this derail.

        3. Radiant Sophia
          Radiant Sophia March 20, 2013 at 2:12 pm |

          And I disagree with the notion of education being a requirement for office.

          What, then, should law be based on, if not a reasoned understanding?

          Oh, I know. Biblical morality.

        4. Evan Carden
          Evan Carden March 20, 2013 at 2:18 pm |

          I’m really not at all clear where you’re getting that as an argument. I’ve never mentioned the bible, or my religious beliefs [which are nonexistent] here, or anywhere.

          The law should be based on [in the US, other countries having their own system] what the legislature passes, the president signs and the courts uphold. I am not advocating for government by the uneducated. I am saying exactly one thing:

          People should be able to run for office, regardless of their level of schooling.

          That is the extent of what I believe on this issue. I’m not saying don’t vote for the college educated, I’m not saying do vote for the uneducated.

          Is this really something people disagree with me about?

        5. Radiant Sophia
          Radiant Sophia March 20, 2013 at 2:29 pm |

          Yes. Yes it is something people disagree with you about.

        6. Evan Carden
          Evan Carden March 20, 2013 at 2:32 pm |

          Ok.

          I’m just curious. On what ground, once this precedent is set, will you disagree with the NRA’s push to have a course on the second amendment and guns be required before anyone can run for office?

        7. Lolagirl
          Lolagirl March 20, 2013 at 2:34 pm |

          I don’t think anyone is saying that education must kiterally be a requirement to obtaining elected ofice. But I am definitely saying that I would not vote for someone who was utterly uneducated wrt to Civics and other issues. I’m not necessarily going to get hung up on whether or not that education came from University coursework, but I will definitely disqualify education via the Bible.

          Know how the world works, how government is intended to function, and where babies actually come from. This is hardly earth shattering stuff.

        8. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune March 20, 2013 at 2:35 pm |

          On what ground, once this precedent is set, will you disagree with the NRA’s push to have a course on the second amendment and guns be required before anyone can run for office?

          The fact that we`re electing town councillors, not Rambo.

        9. Lolagirl
          Lolagirl March 20, 2013 at 2:42 pm |

          Gee, anyone want to wager who would be offering these classes on the 2nd Amendment and would profit monetarily from them?

          It’s a freaking money grab publicity stunt by the NRA, and nothing more. See also, there is a whole lot more to Constitutional Law than the 2nd Amendment.

          *snort, Mac, but don’t we all want Rambo running the City Councils everywhere?!

        10. Evan Carden
          Evan Carden March 20, 2013 at 2:45 pm |

          @Lolagirl

          Perhaps I’ve misunderstood, but it seems to me that both RadiantSophia and macavitykitsune are arguing for legal requirements.

          If I’ve misunderstood, I’m not sure what we’re arguing about. I’m onboard with education as a positive good generally and among politicians. My objection is solely to a legal requirement for running for office.

          @macavitykitsune

          Depends where you are.

          But my point wasn’t the particular hypothetical, but I’m not sure how, having set the precedent, you get around the fact that that people you disagree with would want to use it too.

        11. Evan Carden
          Evan Carden March 20, 2013 at 2:47 pm |

          @Lolagirl

          Sorry. I was unclear, those courses were [as far as I (and a cursory google) know] hypothetical responses to the hypothetical requirement of a women’s studies course before running for office.

        12. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune March 20, 2013 at 2:51 pm |

          Perhaps I’ve misunderstood, but it seems to me that both RadiantSophia and macavitykitsune are arguing for legal requirements.

          I was arguing for the fact that some level of demonstrable education on human rights issues – formal or informal, as I repeatedly mentioned – should be a requirement.

          I’m not sure how, having set the precedent, you get around the fact that that people you disagree with would want to use it too.

          If we start expecting heart surgeons to know about heart surgery, HOW LONG BEFORE THEY’LL WANT EVERYONE TO BE HEART SURGEONS?????

        13. Evan Carden
          Evan Carden March 20, 2013 at 2:58 pm |

          It’s not how long before they’ll want everyone to be heart surgeons, it’s how long before they want politicians to be required to take more than one class. Hardly such a stretch.

          Now, I’m not sure how you come up with a framework which permits what you want: politicians to be required to demonstrate knowledge on human rights issues, without also permitting people I [and I assume you] disagree with to do the same: after all [they will argue, though I do not agree] abortion is murder, murder is a human rights issue, therefore you should have to demonstrate knowledge on that issue as well, right?

          I don’t see the limiting principle that permits the good, without permitting the bad.

        14. matlun
          matlun March 20, 2013 at 3:15 pm |

          I think demonstrated knowledge about the constitution could be a very reasonable requirement to be electable. Would this mean that I am in agreement with the NRA since the second amendment would be part of that?

          Emotionally I like the idea of literally requiring a fairly high level of competence and passing some hard test, but intellectually I think it would be a very bad idea. Someone would have to create and administer the test and that system would be ripe for abuse.

        15. Evan Carden
          Evan Carden March 20, 2013 at 8:23 pm |

          @Matlun

          I believe we’re in agreement.

          I certainly wouldn’t, and don’t, vote for anyone who hasn’t demonstrate knowledge about the constitution [except at a very local level where so long as they don't do anything horribly embarrassing, I vote party lines] but legal requirements on candidates seem like a step back [and vulnerable to manipulation], especially given the massive extralegal limitations discussed by hotpot below.

      3. LotusBecca
        LotusBecca March 20, 2013 at 2:55 pm |

        I think the point is that if one is a patriarchal douchebag, like most politicians are, one should take a women’s studies class, and hopefully one will become less of a patriarchal douchebag. It’s not that all people should be required to have formal education before they can be a part of productive society. It’s that whatever 99% of politicians have been doing to try to prevent themselves from becoming patriarchal douchebags has apparently been entirely ineffective. So, maybe women’s studies classes would help. And yeah, anti-oppression and awareness of patriarchy should be taught in first grade. When there is a substantial chunk of politicians out there1 who haven’t gone to first grade. . .maybe your defense of people without formal education will not be a total non sequitur here.

        1. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune March 20, 2013 at 3:02 pm |

          THANK YOU. That was way more concise and clear than I managed.

          The slippery-slope is great with this one.

        2. Evan Carden
          Evan Carden March 20, 2013 at 3:04 pm |

          I am happy to agree that the education system of the country should be changed.

          I am also happy to concede that people without 1st grade educations do not win seats in the government of the United States. Which perhaps indicates that despite a lack of a formal ban on such people running for office, they don’t get elected. It’s almost like the test we have in place for choosing elected officials, electing them, produces a group of educated [if not enlightened] individuals, which is all an education requirement would produce as well, yes?

          My position, before I go off to a test at the institute of higher learning I attend despite secretly being a biblical literalist who despises higher education and braniacs while secretly planning to install the incompetent in charge of a nuclear arsenal is this:

          I am opposed to legal tests for elected office other than elections.

          They are, to my mind, improper, vulnerable to abuse and fundamentally undemocratic.

          Have a nice day.

        3. Barnacle Strumpet
          Barnacle Strumpet March 20, 2013 at 3:09 pm |

          I disagree with this. I don’t think that taking Women’s Studies classes, or Ethnic Studies, or Be a Damned Decent Person classes, will help the kind of politicians you’re thinking about. Most of them could get a grad degree in Women’s Studies and still be colossal, women-hating douchebags.

          Education isn’t a band-aid that will solve people’s personality problems.

        4. Radiant Sophia
          Radiant Sophia March 20, 2013 at 3:33 pm |

          Evan Carden,

          I never wrote, nor did I imply that you were a “biblical literalist who despises higher education”.

          I implied, and am now writing that most U.S. politicians are.

        5. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune March 20, 2013 at 4:39 pm |

          Education isn’t a band-aid that will solve people’s personality problems.

          Of course it isn’t. It is, however, highly correlated with having wider views of the world, greater ability to extrapolate to intersectional issues that don’t affect the person in question, greater levels of social tolerance of minority/marginalised viewpoints. It is, of course, entirely possible to possess all these things without being formally educated (says the former homeschooler). However, possessing demonstrable knowledge of an issue is in fact related to decency on that issue, and requiring some level of it isn’t exactly unreasonable in electing someone who’s making decisions that affect people whose lives are all bound up in that issue. No one said here or elsewhere that education is tied up in university degrees. I certainly don’t htink so.

        6. Evan Carden
          Evan Carden March 20, 2013 at 8:17 pm |

          @Radiant Sophia

          You quoted me, asked a question, and then answered it. I don’t know what to infer from that other than that it was what you imagined my answer would be.

        7. Radiant Sophia
          Radiant Sophia March 20, 2013 at 8:24 pm |

          Did you even read what I wrote?

          I have written, now multiple times, that is what I believe most U.S. politicians believe.

        8. Evan Carden
          Evan Carden March 20, 2013 at 8:41 pm |

          Yes. I understand that now. I was responding to a comment in which you stated that:

          “I never wrote, nor did I imply that you were a “biblical literalist who despises higher education”.

          I implied, and am now writing that most U.S. politicians are.”

          The only point I was attempting to make was that, given what you said in the original comment, in which you quoted me and then said:

          “What, then, should law be based on, if not a reasoned understanding?

          Oh, I know. Biblical morality.”

          The only thing I could infer from that was that you were responding to the quote from me, with a question, which you then answered. I assumed, obviously erroneously, that that answer was intended to be put in my mouth. I now understand it wasn’t. However, in the context of the original comment, my inference is a straightforward one.

          It was in that context and before you made your clarifying comment that I made the comment you responded to.

      4. hotpot
        hotpot March 20, 2013 at 3:14 pm |

        This whole discussion is just so strange.

        In the United States at least, winning an election is actually a MUCH, MUCH, MUCH bigger barrier than being required to have education. Lots of poor people actually have some education. But poor people don’t get elected to high office in the U.S. because winning an election requires you to be a fricikin’ multimillionaire with basically no home responsibilities (or a partner or nanny to take care of them for you). So introducing an education requirement would basically have no impact on who can run for office. Introducing mandated public financing for campaigns, on the other hand, would be revolutionary.

        In any case, the impact of the top 1% requirement for being a politician, plus the first-past-the-post rule, means that by the time the election actually takes place, we’re often only choosing between several marginally different individuals who the system has preselected for us and who, regardless of their politics, tend to have a pro-establishment mindset. I’d like all my politicians to know what is taught in basic womens’ studies, but the chances are, I’ll never get to vote for any.

      5. Athenia
        Athenia March 21, 2013 at 9:52 am |

        Obviously there are many men and women around the world who participate in politics with little to no education. I’m not arguing they should be barred from participation. Some of these people fight for women’s rights, some of them don’t.

        In the US context, it pisses me the fuck off that elected officials do not have a grasp of how pregnancy works, women’s rights history or civil rights history. Women were 53% of the electorate in the last election! It is ridiculous that certain politicians can’t grasp the basics or willfully ignore it.

        1. Evan Carden
          Evan Carden March 21, 2013 at 10:36 am |

          This I absolutely agree with. It is ridiculous and I certainly wouldn’t vote for them, were I in their districts and I don’t vote for them when they’re running for an office I can vote on.

        2. Emolee
          Emolee March 21, 2013 at 11:57 am |

          In the US context, it pisses me the fuck off that elected officials do not have a grasp of how pregnancy works,

          Right. Remember that law proposed at the state level (don’t remember which state at the moment) that would have prevented the removal of a fetus *even if the fetus was dead* (this was proposed by the state legislator who compared women to farm animals). This law was clearly medically dangerous- not removing a dead fetus can kill the pregnant person. But the scary thing is that a law can be medically dangerous, as long as it passes the legislative body. Of course it could be challenged in the courts, but that takes time/money.

  5. Wiley
    Wiley March 20, 2013 at 12:47 pm |

    I. Love. This. Article.

    This and the fact that Rachel Maddow encouraged a group of people at Standford last week to invest in an education in the humanities is making my liberal-arts-college-grad heart grow three sizes.

  6. samanthab
    samanthab March 20, 2013 at 1:12 pm |

    It sounds like this is part of a national strategy: http://www.southernstudies.org/2013/03/whos-behind-the-push-to-limit-multicultural-studies-in-texas-universities.html

    The organization behind it is also combating education on climate change. Surprise, surprise- they don’t like science, either. They don’t care about jobs. They care about the exploitation of an uninformed populace.

  7. Donna L
    Donna L March 20, 2013 at 3:06 pm |

    Women’s Studies are so Second Wave. Who calls it that anymore, anyway? It’s all Gender and Queer Studies now, folks, and that’s what’s on the HomoTrans Agenda to force all future politicians to study, beginning in first grade.

    1. LotusBecca
      LotusBecca March 20, 2013 at 4:33 pm |

      Hear, hear.

    2. DouglasG
      DouglasG March 20, 2013 at 5:25 pm |

      Why wait for first grade? Given the fast-track mentality that has affluent parents cramming as much as they can into their preschoolers’ heads starting as early as possible, there ought to be a pre-natal course.

    3. karak
      karak March 21, 2013 at 7:45 am |

      I love it when people thunder about THE X AGENDA!

      THE TRANS’ AGENDA!

      Oh, so trans people have hopes and dreams for the future, and don’t run around naked, eating grass and shitting in their hands? Fuckin’ suspicious weirdos.

      1. Donna L
        Donna L March 21, 2013 at 10:24 am |

        I participate in another online message board sometimes, on which I have been specifically accused more than once of “having an agenda” (unlike everyone else, it seems) — in my case, an agenda to promote “special treatment” for “the Jews” and “the gays.”

    4. Athenia
      Athenia March 21, 2013 at 9:44 am |

      I dunno. That’s what the University of Michigan called it 6 years ago. -_-;;

  8. A4
    A4 March 20, 2013 at 8:59 pm |

    At my college it was called GWSS, Gender Women’s and Sexuality studies. Regardless of nomenclature, I think gender studies courses are actually most valuable for their role in deconstructing patriarchal narratives that do not accurately reflect reality and using this understanding of Patriarchal bias to gain a truer understanding of the uses of power in our world. What I value the most is that feminist theory has given me a better understanding of the world from which to make my own decisions, not so much that it enables me to critique the bigotry of others. I do think, however, that these two aspects of feminism are inseparably intertwined.

  9. Nico
    Nico March 20, 2013 at 10:45 pm |

    Now fifty years later, with Steubenville, Sandberg’s Lean In, a sexist Oscar host singing a song that celebrates rape on film, rampant racist and sexist scandals on college campuses, rape survivors facing possible expulsion for speaking out, and the politicization of protecting women and other marginalized groups from violence, liberal arts programs such as Women’s Studies are vital as they delve into the structural roots of these issues by examining the role of race, gender, class, and sexuality in modern society through the feminist framework of intersectionality.

    In the above quote, I’m not sure if the OP is including Sandberg’s “Lean In” as being of a kind, or maybe on a continuum, with those other recent events. I know that the Sandberg thing is controversial (though not all who have issues with it do so for the same reasons.) But do Sandberg’s sins, even including working for FB, deserve being lumped in with the other listed offenses?

    There IS some connection in that the other events are emblematic of social/cultural/etc conditions with respect to women’s status and gender equality, and Sandberg’s Lean In is prompted by those same or related conditions. But I don’t see how that overlap warrants Sandberg being position between Steubenville (either the initial crimes or the post-verdict reactions) and an ill-conceived musical parody of sexism that backfired badly (prompting some reactions that themselves bordered on a parody of feminism.)

    I probably wouldn’t have bothered commenting on that alone, but the list was a set up to a larger point, which was that everything listed points not to the triviality of Women’s Studies (as per an asshole out of North Carolina) but to need for Women’s Studies as an antidote to the social toxins that make it a trivial matter to produce such a potentially endless list (though again Sandberg’s Lean In, which I’m not defending, seems out of place on it, despite my not having read it, which obviously isn’t a pre-req for commenting anyway.)

    Here’s the thing. That list of contemporary events reflects an environment in which Women’s Studies (and gender/queer/sexuality studies overall) became institutionalized decades ago. There are places in this country where you can’t walk down the street or answer a personal ad without bumping into someone with at least some women’s and gender studies under (usually) her belt. Everyone I know, in and out of school, regularly binges on the stuff. Women’s Studies is not a new thing.

    What I’d like to see is not just a “defense of the sanctimonious women’s studies set” (a slogan that along with the awesome wild girl logo makes this my fave feminist stop) but how ideas and insights from those studies might filter out and shape the larger culture and maybe make the compilation of such lists a little more difficult. It’s one thing to cite the need for women’s and gender studies but something else to assess how well their purposes are being met.

    The idea can’t possibly be that the path to gender equality is greater enrollment in Women’s Studies classes. At least I hope not. Women’s and gender studies does an excellent job of turning out feminists but how effective has it been in advancing feminist goals? That list, and other supporting evidence just as easily copied & pasted from today’s headlines, suggests at most mixed results.

    I love it that Feministe’s tag line plays with the image of a sanctimonious and humorless feminism, but in-group self-deprecation is no substitute for critical self-reflection and self-assessment by a movement for gender equality that has accomplished much but has also stalled and in many instances slipped or been beaten back.

    1. samanthab
      samanthab March 21, 2013 at 10:42 am |

      If you’d like to see a defense of women’s studies that examines how they permeate a wider culture, maybe you should research one? It seems a bit inappropriate to tell Feministe writers what they ought to write about?

      Also, if you’d read the above comments and links, it would be clear to you that this is a national strategy put out by a conservative think tank. Bill Bennett, who argued in favor of this strategy, is a former US Secretary of Education with a nationally syndicated show. He is not one asshole in North Carolina.

    2. matlun
      matlun March 21, 2013 at 11:39 am |

      I’m not sure if the OP is including Sandberg’s “Lean In” as being of a kind, or maybe on a continuum, with those other recent events

      No, it really does not seem to fit in that list.

      I was thinking about trying to ask the author about why she included that there. On the one hand it seems an unimportant detail in the post, but on the other hand I am curious…

      1. Danielle K. Nelson
        Danielle K. Nelson March 22, 2013 at 10:46 pm |

        I included Lean In, because of the theoretical questions that may result from looking at the general structural issues that she’s framing.

  10. Angie unduplicated
    Angie unduplicated March 21, 2013 at 12:13 pm |

    Before Women’s Studies: limited occupational categories, required resignations at marriage, pregnancy, or both, fired if caught living with a man out of wedlock or if outed as lesbian. Only female CEO: Mary Kay Ash. Feminist analysis has created many, many jobs for women. Somebody needs to get a winch, a wench, and pull this critter’s head out of its ass.

  11. Thom
    Thom March 22, 2013 at 7:00 pm |

    I learned more in women’s studies classes than in any of the other classes I took. They challenged me to think outside of my assumptions, and to really take a hard look at what I thought I knew. No other classes forced me to look inward so much, so consistently.

    The university had an option to build unique degrees. I combined classes from multiple disciplines to create a degree in the study of civil rights, discrimination and prejudice. I made sure to ask my favorite women’s studies professor to be one of my advisers.

    The degree didn’t do me much good when I out searching for jobs. Companies were afraid of it. Several said outright that they wouldn’t hire me because I was likely to talk their employees into suing them. (They must have known they were doing some serious things wrong, and worried about anyone having the courage to do something about it.)

    But I don’t know that I would change anything if I could. I recommend that anyone who has a chance to take women’s studies classes, do it, and take the classes seriously. The world would be a better place if everyone did.

    1. Barnacle Strumpet
      Barnacle Strumpet March 22, 2013 at 9:50 pm |

      You could probably make money as a consultant for companies fighting discrimination suits with that degree :P

  12. What we’re reading 3/30/13 | Disrupting Dinner Parties

    [...] The personal is political: in defense of women’s studies programs from Feministe [...]

Comments are closed.

The commenting period has expired for this post. If you wish to re-open the discussion, please do so in the latest Open Thread.