Saturday, July 6, 2013

One Need Not Be A Woman To Study Women's Studies

Dear Readers:

In honor of my 10th birthday this week (6/26) I am taking a week-long vacation! For your entertainment, I am re-posting some classic columns that you may have missed the first time!


Dear Tazi:

I just finished my freshman year of college and as a general education credit I took an Introduction to Women’s Studies class and loved it. I found the viewpoints and cultures we explored – so different from our own – incredibly interesting. I never realized that I took for granted the many rights that American women have that women in other countries (and cultures, right here in this country) are struggling to attain. I also never realized how “patriarchal” our society is, with everything being run from a man’s point of view. Take, for example, public beaches. I have seen men with boobs bigger than Coco [Austin, the model] lying around with no shirt on, and that is perfectly legal; but a woman – no matter how flat-chested she is – must wear a top or else she can be arrested for indecent exposure. I think the 400 pound man in a Speedo should be the one getting arrested, don’t you?

I would like to continue taking more Women’s Studies courses, and maybe even complete a minor in the subject to go along with my Political Science major. The one issue with my plan is that I am a man, and not even an effeminate one. I played football in high school, go drinking with the guys, and do everything that normal guys do – I only took the Women’s Studies class because my girlfriend was in it and wanted me to take it with her.

I guess I am just afraid of what people will think when they find out I am taking Women’s Studies classes. I am afraid that the women in the classes will see me as an interloper and that the guys are all going to think that I am secretly gay. Do you have any rejoinder that I can give to the comments I am certain to receive when people discover that I like Women’s Studies?

‘Bama man

Dear ‘Bama Man:

You have written to the right kitty cat! My Mommie happens to be a Gender and Women’s Studies student at the University of Rhode Island! I have a habit of taking long naps on her textbooks, and have learned through osmosis that Women’s Studies is an interdisciplinary field that covers a wide range of topics, including Political Science and Sociology! (How’s that for a rejoinder?). As you have discovered, you do not have to be a woman – or an “effeminate” man – to enjoy Women’s Studies classes. In fact, all men are actively encouraged to explore the curriculum and see how the classes offered could enhance their studies.

Classes in Women’s Studies are designed to expose students to topics that are not (traditionally) covered in the liberal arts program of general education. It is for this reason that many colleges offer their Women’s Studies classes as general education credits and free electives, to offer an alternative viewpoint to the traditional Western philosophies found in historical readings.

Judging from your signature, you are from the Deep South; a place where tradition runs deep. Do not feel that you must abandon your traditions in order to study Women’s Studies; rather, think of it as the exploration of a new path in the rich culture that already surrounds you. Rather than take a history course on the War of Northern Aggression (aka The Civil War), why not take a class on Women of the Civil War? A required Literature credit could easily be filled with a class on Southern Female Writers (My Mommie is a huge fan of the work of Southern women authors, especially Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird; as for me, I just love the title!).
If, after explaining to people your interest in Women’s Studies, you find that you are still receiving flak for your choice of minor I suggest that you just do your best to shrug it off and people will stop bothering you. Those who tease and/or bully do so in the hope of getting a defensive reaction. By coolly explaining that you are exploring a vein of your proud Southern heritage you take away the very ammunition they seek to shoot.

Lastly, to answer your question about indecent exposure: I think that is a moot point. I don’t think a 400 pound man would fit into a Speedo. It may be made of Spandex® but it is still governed by the laws of physics.


P.S.: Might I recommend for you a Women’s Studies elective that deals with Race Class and Gender? This class delves into how each of the three (race, class, and gender) can determine our social status in society, and how we as a culture can work to overcome discrimination and backlash to become a more balanced society. As a Political Science major this type of course would suit you well, and might even count for credit towards your major degree as well. –T.K.

Ask Tazi! is ghostwritten by a human with a Bachelors of Arts in Communications. Tazi-Kat is not really a talking feline.

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