Saturday, January 30, 2010

National Post and Feminism

Tuesday's National Post contained an article entitled "Women's Studies is still with us" in which their editorial board (made up of 3 women and 8 men) comments on women's studies courses- and by the sounds of it, none of them have ever actually taken a women's studies course. And by comments on, I mean they completely bash these programs, blaming them for all kinds of problems.

They write "The radical feminism behind these courses has done untold damage to families, our court systems, labour laws, constitutional freedoms and even the ordinary relations between men and women." I wish I could say I was surprised that arguments such as these continue to exist... I don't think this point is worth the energy of trying to argue, it has gone on since the 1960s (and, in some cases, since the mid 1800s) and has been argued by many women much more articulate and knowledgable than myself.

They also write that "Women's Studies courses have taught that all women--or nearlyall-- are victims and nearly all men are victimizers." Now, I've taken many women's studies courses, and I have never gotten the impression that I was a victim. They discuss rape culture as problematic, but none of my profs have tried to say that all men are victimizers (however, I can see how some writers, such as Dworkin and MacKinnon, could be interpreted as such). Women's studies courses have empowered me to see how power relations come into play, which I believe will help me navigate my way through a patriarchal system. They have not led me to believe that I am a victim, but have taught me that the victim/abuser dichotomy is much too simple to explain what is actually hapenning. We are all oppressed and we are all oppressors in various capacities, but that does not come up in the article.

It also explains how, in the current judicial system, men are being victimized by women studies. "Divorcing men find they lose their homes and access to their children, and must pay much of their income to their former spouses (then pay tax on the income they no longer have) largely because Women's Studies activists convinced politicians that family law was too forgiving of men." Yet, studies show time and again that men benefit financially from divorce, whereas women's income drops substantially, and courts will not take access to children from a parent except under the most extreme circumstances.

I could go on like this with every sentence in the article. The article makes employment equity sound like a reverse hiring scheme to trick men out of their jobs. It makes non-essentialist gender difference arguments sound ludicrous. The article also makes it seem as though all feminists equate PIV intercourse to an act of violence. It scares me that people who have never taken a women's studies class are going to read this article and believe that all of this is true; it must be true- it is in the newspaper and written by an entire panel of people.

The article ends with a terrifying conspiracy theory; that although women's studies programs appear to be disappearing, in reality the same ideas are just being shifted to other disciplines. Now it isn't just women's studies majors that we have to fear... it is all liberal arts students. Society is doomed!


  1. The employment equity act is not a hiring scheme to trick anyone out of jobs. If a company uses this practice it means that if two applicants have the same qualifications and experience needed for one job and one applicant is male and the other female than the job would go to the female. However, if the male was more qualified than the female he would get the job even if employment equity is used.

  2. Exactly... that seems to be their tactic... take something that people don't entirely understand and twist it to make it seem like it is unbelievably unjust- especially for those with privilege, effectively feeding the anti-feminist movement.