Women’s studies worth it

Women’s studies programs are on the outs at many Canadian universities—and for good reason, the National Post wrote in an editorial Jan. 26.

The Post’s editorial calls women’s studies programs “angry, divisive and dubious” and suggests many are changing their titles to appear less contentious.

Ascribing a radical feminist bent to many women’s studies courses, the Post condemns these classes for doing damage to families, court proceedings and simple everyday interactions between men and women.

The editorial is ironic in the sense that its ignorance demonstrates the very need for courses like women’s studies to continue to exist.

These courses play an important role in making both sexes aware of social issues.

In many cases, changing the nomenclature of women’s studies programs to “gender studies” is entirely appropriate and reflects a shift in the scope of the material covered, rather than an attempt to hide divisive subject matter.

Men are often turned off by course codes like “women’s studies,” which can be misleading when many such classes address issues pertaining equally to men and women.

The editorial also fails to consider the nuanced nature of women’s studies. Feminist theory is a spectrum, not a one-size-fits-all extremist approach.

The Post generalizes all women’s studies to represent a tiny minority of feminist scholarship without considering many other facets of the discipline.

Women’s studies shouldn’t be seen as a cause but simply as another way of looking at the world, like any other discipline at university. The Post’s editorial suggests university-level women’s studies courses are to blame for a rise in feminist extremism. But the feminist movement gained momentum long before such courses were offered.

It’s unfortunate the Post also perpetuates the public misconception regarding women having the upper hand in legal battles like rape trials, when the opposite is often the case.

The Post’s editorial also implies that traditional marriage can’t go hand-in-hand with feminist thought, a position that’s offensive to many male or female feminists.

With a demonstrated lack of research into what women’s studies actually represents and an excess of unsubstantiated claims, the Post’s editorial defeats its own objective.

All final editorial decisions are made by the Editor(s)-in-Chief and/or the Managing Editor. Authors should not be contacted, targeted, or harassed under any circumstances. If you have any grievances with this article, please direct your comments to journal_editors@ams.queensu.ca.

When commenting, be considerate and respectful of writers and fellow commenters. Try to stay on topic. Spam and comments that are hateful or discriminatory will be deleted. Our full commenting policy can be read here.