March 25, 2009

You Can't Break My Feminist Chain

I'm starting a chain letter. What kind of chain will it be? A chain of feminist strength, that's it! We must save Women's and Gender Studies at Guelph, as I mentioned yesterday. We cannot let patriarchal or misogynistic university administrations undermine what feminism has created. Women and Gender studies is an important field that is growing all the time. Ontario is about to offer a high school course in the subject and Queen's is starting a brand new Master's in Women's Studies. This is NOT the time for any university in Canada to be giving up on the subject. Students have a right to access feminist theory, gender theory and women's history - all of which is facilitated by a Women and Gender Studies program. No cuts for a short-term problem with a recession justify long-term damage to the feminist academy. Young people deserve access to courses that deconstruct the gender binary, inform them of post-colonial and anti-racist theories, analyse the gendered implications of various media and literary texts, and so much more. Don't use that argument that there are feminist academics elsewhere in the academy and there are other courses devoted to gender - why shouldn't there be an entire department devoted to feminist and gender issues? There are entire departments devoted to the subject of politics and political theories even though you could talk about politics in a history course, a sociology course of a Women's Studies course but I don't see people clamouring to eliminate that. Same thing with Religious Studies. You can totally take courses that discuss religion in sociology or history, but we still have religious studies departments.In fact, this argument applies to basically every subject out there. You could interrogate the same topic in a different discipline, but we keep the discipline because it has its own theory and students deserve a protected right and a guarantee to be able to take a wide range of courses in this discipline.

We need Women and Gender Studies because it has its own established and legitimate theory that is not the foundation of any other subject. For example, we believe that everything in the world - every concept, from theories of geology and the free market system to more obvious candidates like gynecology, is gendered. Gender is a key organizing principle of the world that must be denaturalized and interrogated. With almost no exceptions, Gender Theorists also believe gender is largely a hegemonic social construction that causes more pain than joy. For example, transgendered people suffer greatly under the sex/gender system. We believe patriarchy is a destructive organizing principle for the world that harms male-identified subjects as well as women, trans and inter-sexed people. After all, sure men get to make more money and have more political power in a patriarchal society, but they also have the stressful responsibility of being the primary breadwinners for families and are allowed less time and space to bond with children and very rarely win custody battles for their children. It really sucks to be a man under patriarchy - see!

Feminism and Women and Gender Studies want to create a world where everyone has more choices - more opportunities. A World that is fairer and freer is a good thing, no? Anyone who objects to feminism doesn't really get it, in my opinion. That's why we can't eliminate Women and Gender Studies. These opponents to feminism need to be enlightened. It's not their fault they are ignorant. No, a university program isn't the only way to bring people to feminism, but it's a good avenue and one that cannot be eliminated. Become part of the "feminist chain." Sign this petition to save Women's Studies at Guelph AND pass it on to at least one other person to sign it too, then ask them to do the same. A little bit of feminist activism can go a long way. Take five minutes out of your day to earn some good feminist kharma, k? Activists got women the vote and access to benefits like maternity leave, got Women and Gender Studies a place at the academy to begin with, and so much more. Let's not let "post-feminism" ruin the party. Sign the petition and pass it on!

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