Why every human should take a women's studies class
It’s no secret that women don’t get the equality that we strive for; although much progress has been made since the feminist movement in 1971, we’re still not quite there yet. We are victims of street harassment, domestic violence, and, to add insult to injury, mockery for being a certain gender. We live in an androcentric (or male-centered) society, and girls are taught that they are the weaker sex at an incredibly young age. As they grow older, they are taught IN SCHOOL that they lose a part of themselves after they lose their virginity, and in relationships, young women tend to be passive in behavior because our society tells us that that’s how women should act. This causes women to stay in abusive relationships, slut-shame other girls, and obsess over the “imperfections” of themselves.
The solution? Well, first of all, more men need to become aware of how this issue against women is NEGATIVE behavior, and taught to become more respectful of women. Second, women need to become aware of who they are as women and become independent from the stereotypes placed upon the female gender. How can these things happen? A big thing that has shed light on these issues to both men and women alike is what they learn in school. I feel that colleges should require a Women’s Studies course for all students everywhere, so that they can become aware of the issues and so that mutual equality and respect has a fighting chance. Here’s why:
5 Benefits of Taking a Women’s Studies Course for Women
1. You will learn that the word “bitch” can be a positive
I made a speech in my first semester of college about how the word “bitch” can be a positive thing, and how women should gain the confidence to use it to their ability. In my speech, I quoted BITCHfest, a novel by Lisa Jervis and Andi Zeisler, and Margaret Cho‘s amazing quote from the foreword.
So, as I could not have said any better myself, we need to step away from taking “bitch” as a bad name, and instead just be a bitch for all the right reasons. Be assertive and passionate! Male bosses can be aggressive and people let it go because he’s just doing his job, but when a woman does the same, she is labeled a bitch or “bossy.” If doing your job gets you labeled as a bitch. . . So. Be. It.
2. Discovering a strong sense of self-esteem
I attend an all-women’s college, and let me tell you: it’s amazing. Being surrounded by male and female professors that all have a dedication for the empowerment of women is really a wonderful thing. My advice: surround yourself with people who create positive energy that boosts your confidence, and a woman’s studies course will definitely give you this.
3. An understanding of all the strong women who came before you
My college years are becoming the most important years of my entire life, not just for the educational outcome or the wonderful friends I’m acquiring, but because I have a wonderful example of what it means to be a woman and, more importantly, a strong woman. My professors are both men and women, all of whom are dedicated to equality. Being an English major, I have the luxury of analyzing literature and film and how women are portrayed. It’s not very surprising that the majority are often shown in domestic roles until the early 20th Century. Understanding the courage that women like Gloria Steinem and Susan B. Anthony needed to stand up for women’s rights when the concept seemed intangible is a really powerful thing, and a necessity for getting anywhere in life.
4. You will receive different perspectives on sexuality (aka forget all that “you lose part of yourself after you’ve lost your virginity” stuff)
Girls are taught to put so much emphasis and stress on sex. In women’s and gender studies, you’ll learn to look at sex in a different light. Instead of seeing yourself as a “slut” for having sex too early or stressing so much about being thought poorly of, you’ll learn to question, “Why is it ‘natural’ for a man to have sex as much as he wants/as early as he wants without judgment, but it’s not the same for a woman?” Because it is natural for a woman to want sex, too!
5. You will learn about women’s roles all over the world
This one is pretty self-explanatory. You will learn about the roles of women in the U.S. and in countries all over the world and their importance (both in their differences and similarities).
3 Benefits of Taking a Women’s Studies Course For Men
1. You will become aware of the fears women face every day of their lives
It doesn’t come naturally to men to worry about how they’re dressed before they go out, nor do they regularly get nervous walking down the street alone. Taking a women’s studies course would help make men aware of the things that women have to face in daily life, and how they as men can make a change in those trials and tribulations.
2. How to appreciate real beauty
Who decides what beauty is? Why do women feel they need to spend hundreds of dollars on makeup to be considered beautiful? Men (and women) will become more conscientious of the standards that are set for “beauty” to women in our society.
3. Learning the significance of women in society
We’re not just here to deliver your babies!
5 Benefits of Taking a Women’s Studies Course for Both Men and Women
1. Learning about what feminism is and what it’s about
Feminism is NOT the study of man hatred. Learn about the stereotypes and why being a feminist is positive!
2. You will learn about consent
Consent is a seriously significant thing that you’ll learn about (yes, in sex ed, but also in women’s studies) because “blurred lines” of yes means yes or no means no are a common excuse for rape or sexual assault/abuse to take place. Becoming more educated and respectful of consent is the number one step of solving this problem.
3. A better understanding of gender roles and how to change them
Again, women are not just meant to baby machines and maids. Seriously.
4. Insight on the politics of women’s rights and politics that are negatively affecting women
Check out all of those laws that control women’s reproductive health and abortion rights. Yeah.
5. Lastly, you will learn that a women’s studies class is for equality of all genders
To become more aware of why feminism is a positive thing, both genders need to understand that feminism is positive for both genders. Women’s studies helps educate its students about feminist theory and how it is not “down with all men in power,” it’s more just an idea for men and women to stand side by side.
Samantha Schuldt is a sophomore at Alverno College majoring in English and minoring in Professional Communications and Creative Studies in Writing. Her career ambition is to become a columnist and/or editor for a magazine.