What’s the goal of “women’s studies”?

May 19, 2017 • 8:30 am

Let two feminist scholars of them tell you, via this tweet from The New Real Peer Review:

A quote:

When envisioning the future priorities for women’s studies—ones that take advantage of women’s studies as a dangerous, infectious, potentially radical force of change—we posit two new directions for the field to embrace. First, training both female and male students as viruses could prove especially useful in articulating the mission and goals of the field. There are clearly different stakes in the feminist pedagogical work directed toward female students versus male students. While female students must work to understand their own experiences as women and to deconstruct, critically analyze, and understand the ways that their identities as women map onto other privileges and oppressions, they often at least sense the impact of oppression and privilege in their lives.

Male students, on the other hand, may have had little or no exposure to thinking about their own male privileges at all, particularly for white men who may perceive themselves to be victimized by feminist critiques and classroom discussions (George, 1992). While men of color and gay men may differently understand concepts of privilege and oppression, white heterosexual men may arrive at the examination of privilege with little to no experience examining such personal aspects of their lives and identities. The danger of challenging white men, for example, to recognize and critique their own (and other men’s) privileges may be different than teaching women to recognize and critique their privileges and oppressions. Precisely because whiteness, heterosexuality, and maleness are not oppressed classes (George, 1992), and thus are not subjected to the consciousness of oppressed classes, the methods used to discover their own 947 Fahs & Karger – Women’s Studies as Virus privilege may prove critical to the virulent capacity of women’s studies programs seeking to infect male-dominated institutions.

This is one area of academia, it seems, where a scholarly discipline not only has explicit political goals, and a point of view that it must inculcate into students, but makes these things public. I can’t think of any other disciples with such a nakedly obvious agenda, except other areas of “cultural studies.”

Claire Lehmann, editor of Quillette, retweeted it like this:


134 thoughts on “What’s the goal of “women’s studies”?

  1. ‘But if you go carrying pictures of chairman Mao
    You ain’t going to make it with anyone anyhow’

    Except in the misbegotten humanities/social ‘sciences’ of the contemporary academy. . . .
    I bet the authors wish they were back there in Bejing (ca. 1960, when it was still Peking–look out! Duck!!) beating the shit out of some poor intellectual–say, the greatest astrophysicist in a country of two billion people–for his (sic) reactionary thinking.

    [see opening section of Cixin Liu’s ‘Three-Body Problem’]

    1. It still is Peking in some languages. Its supposed to be pronounced Be-ching, or Peh-ching or somesuch.
      Literal English pronunciation of pee-king was a lost cause from the start.

    1. We must tear down all people we don’t like! In the name of equality (well, not for them, they don’t deserve it. Just for us).

      It’s not about equality. It’s about revenge against people many generations and decades removed from individuals for things done by those individuals. Equality!

      1. It’s about revenge against people many generations and decades removed from individuals for things done by those individuals. Equality!

        The name for that is “original sin”.

        1. Yes, I’ve often argued that social justice’s concept of privilege is just original sin in disguise.

  2. To establish goals first then to “study” how to present things so that these pre-ordained conclusions appear justified, is it not a characteristic of all pseudosciences (like creationnism or homeopathy)?

    1. Yes, exactly. Read all those studies from the women’s studies journals. Just a bunch of mumbo-jumbo to reach the conclusions they already had in mind. Somehow, their studies never, ever come out with a different conclusion than the one that upholds their ideology and preconceived beliefs.

      It’s religion and pseudoscience.

  3. Mentions of male privilege and white privilege, but no mention of class privilege.

    I wonder why that might be?

    1. Right? Especially when study after study shows that the ultimate privilege is class. More than race, religion, sexuality, gender, sex, anything else, class confers far more privilege.

      But these people don’t want to talk about class because they don’t really want equality. They want power and revenge.

      1. Yes, and I would refer anyone who still doubts the existence of class privilege to the recent case of Lavinia Woodward, Oxford medical student, aspiring heart surgeon, and apparently from a quite wealthy background. During a “drug- and alcohol-fueled row,” she punched her boyfriend in the face, stabbed him with a bread knife, and hurled various objects (including a laptop) at him. Yet the judge decided to defer sentencing, so as not to jeopardize her promising career, because she is “just that brilliant” and has her name on articles in medical journals. If that’s not class privilege, I don’t know what is.

        1. I agree this case is disgusting, but we shouldn’t pretend that male students haven’t got away with some pretty appalling behaviour for the same reason.

          I’m certainly not defending this woman. I just think it’s clear this is about class rather than being a woman.

          1. Absolutely it’s about class, and agreed that many male students have gotten away with egregious assaults for the same reason.

        2. Poor young lady, to be annoyed by that nasty cis hetero and likely white male to the point of throwing knives and laptops at him. Thanks to the good judge, her career will not be jeopardized, but I fear her personal life will, because it must be difficult in her situation to find another boyfriend. Not to mention that she may need a new laptop as well.

          And she is aspiring surgeon stabbing people with a knife? Then, the incident may have been just practice in an out-of-hospital setting.

          1. I’m not so sure her personal life will suffer either, because there are a number of attractive photos of her (perusing a book, enjoying a boat ride, stepping into a jet, etc.) plastered throughout the tabloids. This, and her future earning potential, should serve her well (though much more than “brilliance” is required to make a surgeon, and she appears to be utterly lacking in impulse control).

            But then I’m a cynical owl …

        3. It starts in private boarding schools schools (Used to work in one).
          Often they won’t be expelled, as that would leave a record, but the school will give the parents the option of ‘withdrawing’ their kid.
          One of the things that shocked me the most about the UK, for a country that projects an image of being all about fair play, it happily embraces a shedload of double standards.

    2. I suspect statements such as “Smith College costs $66,000 per year” has something to do with it…

  4. on “except other areas of “cultural studies” such as “patriarchy studies,” the one that has been overall and steadfastly and daily “studied and put in to practice worldwide” since about 10,000 bce or even earlier.

  5. I don’t really see the problem here. The virus metaphor isn’t very wisely chosen I’ll give you that.

    1. I think the biggest problem is that academic research and theory shouldn’t be about producing a political army for your ideology. It’s supposed to be about producing knowledge and exchanging ideas. Women’s studies does neither. As one can see from the studies in its journals, every single “study” they produce comes to the conclusion that upholds their ideology, values, and theories. Those aren’t studies producing knowledge or trying to find out new things about the world; they’re studies meant to propagate a certain view of the world, facts be damned.

      1. I also have no use for their academic output, but even academics have no use for most academic output of any kind.

        As far as I understand it, it’s one of the branches of critical theory: examining society through the lens of some “theory” (class/race/gender/whatever) or other. In that regard it’s no so different from looking at something in nature from the perspective of a molecular biologist/evolutionary biologist/physicist etc.

        It doesn’t necessarily produce knowledge in the same way other fields might do, but it provides different perspectives on all kinds of topics. It’s about the investigation of society and how it operates, and I don’t really see an issue with wanting to change aspects of society and being open about it.

        1. This isn’t about what they want, personally, to do, or saying so. It’s about whether the field is driven by those goals and desires or is actually operating on firm, impartial principles. It sounds like its practitioners are explicitly stating that what “set it apart” is precisely that the goals do drive the results.

        2. The problem is, you have to have a good working theory grounded in something besides ideology. These people don’t, and thus can’t produce anything.

          It doesn’t matter if knowledge produced is immediately useful, just that it expands human knowledge. None of this stuff expands human knowledge in any way, and I would argue even takes away from it by getting people to believe in pseudoscience and deny actual facts that don’t comport with their ideology.

  6. At what point will the rest of academia punish these “fields” for their blatant colonialism? Tenure doesn’t mean squat if the whole department gets ejected from the university. I would also think that being so nakedly partisan in political activism would jeopardize the university’s government funding.

    1. Yes, the problem is not that some folks have devoted their lives to writing and publishing destructive nonsense; the problem is that taxpayers and other people are forced to pay for this.

  7. Having it clearly laid out here that W.S. never, repeat never, produce a hypothesis that is not supported is very revealing. It is a study of it’s own paradigm. There might be other humanities fields that are like this, but right now I cannot think of one.

  8. A virus. Good luck with that.

    I think people should go to the opera or the symphony and not to professional sports games. Maybe I will implant, at an early age, a virus to promote my wishes. It doesn’t work that way.

    Ideas either work and/or are more attractive than alternatives. Ideas have to be interesting. Exciting. Relevant.

    If all you’ve got on the plate is man-hating or man-brain-transplantation then trips to Disneyland will win over some cosmic plant to usurp one gender over another.

    1. Well, they’re trying to spread it like a virus by indoctrinating their students, and many schools are making a feminist or women’s studies course/s requirements for graduation. It’s not too bad of an analogy, unfortunately.

      1. Indeed the real insult is that they are taking away what to me is the real meta-value of a university education, that is the acquisition and refinement of independent and critical thinking skills. Instead the leaders of these disciplines (the majority of which got tenured out of “dear diary” publications in laughable journals) aim at producing activists, that by definition are indoctrinated believers rather than critical thinkers.

        Unfortunately I don’t see how this madness can be reversed, considering the authoritarian segregated structure imposed on campuses by identity politics (another postmodernist contribution), that prevents students from being exposed to different ideas, since ideas and words are fully equated with physical violence, producing the collective hysteria that we see daily.

  9. Sorry, but having spent my first year of junior high in England (where I was the butt of some American-themed jokes- yes, Brit schoolboys tell them) and then being a student in a 3/4ths Jewish public school that was also 10% African-American, I have had plenty of time to think about my identity as a white straight WASP male. This has been further accentuated by reading multiple black and Jewish authored novels on my own volition, as well as fairly extensive exposure to literature on the Holocaust. (Oh, I forgot, Jews are an oppressor class now. Sorry.)

    I was under the impression that one of the ‘waves’ of feminism was to develop a more male-positive feminism. Isn’t this sort of a regression to 1970s feminism?

      1. The originator of the term “third-wave feminism”, Rebecca Walker (daughter of Alice), is also an advocate of a male-positive feminism. However, this is not generally associated with the concept of the ‘third-wave feminism’.
        RW edited a 2004 anthology “What Makes A Man: 22 Writers Imagine The Future” which is pretty good. (I haven’t read the whole thing)

      2. Feminism is not automatically anti-male. It is anti-attitudes like “all feminists hate men”. Of course there are always extremists, and they get the attention.

        Someone getting rights you’ve already had does not take away your rights, only your privilege.

        1. Someone getting the rights of men while not also getting the privilege, you mean 😉
          (ex/ the vote but not the draft)

          That said, I didn’t say all feminists hate men. Their behavior, though, has always been anti-men or at best oblivious to men with a hyper-narrow focus on women. Even bringing up men’s issues is seen as harmful to their narrative and hateful. Just look at the protests to the Red Pill movie recently: These people haven’t seen the movie, they have just eaten up the rhetoric that it is misogynistic which is spouted by feminists… even on live TV (feminists who also haven’t watched it). Look up Karen Straughan for a youtube clip if you’re curious.

          How many women-only domestic abuse shelters are needed when men make up about half of victims of domestic violence?

          Men don’t have bodily autonomy, either, since circumcision is legal. Less extreme forms of female genital mutilation (there are multiple kinds, and I am against all of them for the record) are illegal, btw.

          1. 1. The behaviour of all feminists is not anti-men. The behaviour of most extremist feminists is anti-men.

            2. It is men who don’t want women to be drafted, and many still don’t want them there. Israel, for example, includes women in compulsory military training.

            3. I don’t know what you’re talking about re the red pill movie. It’s not on my radar. Perhaps I’m not enough of a feminist. However, once again it sounds like you’re letting the squeaky wheel speak for all feminists.

            4. Men are not “half the victims of domestic violence”. They are certainly victims. However, women have shelters because they made the effort to get them. They are a fairly recent thing. For most of history they not only had to put up with abuse, they were told men had the right to abuse them. Men owned their wives. Women have never owned husbands legally like animals.

            Men should organise to get shelters like women have. Why is it women’s responsibility to arrange shelters for men? Are other groups addressing a specific social problem told something else is also up to them to fix? Do Civil Rights groups get told that too?

            5. Male circumcision? Talk about going off on a tangent! How on earth is that the fault of feminists? Blame religion for that one – a patriarchal institution if ever I saw one. And FGM is illegal in your country and mine, but it still happens, and there are dozens of countries where it’s legal.

            As for the resulting damage, that’s significantly greater for FGM than male circumcision (leaving aside those New York rabbis who make the parents sign a waiver then suck the blood away and give the babies herpes). In fact the medical evidence is that male circumcision is a health benefit in multiple ways. And, if it’s going to be done it’s best done when the pain won’t be remembered. That, of course, doesn’t take away the consent issue.

            Feminism is about equal rights and equality of opportunity. No, not all feminists are perfect. Do they have to be for many men to admit the cause itself is valid? it seems so. What I call the Mary Syndrome, where all women are required to meet each man’s idea of perfection is alive and well.

            1. 1. Why is it that all the biggest feminist organizations are filled with the extremists? Why is it that the extremists hold these positions of power, and why is it that the moderates don’t call them out on it?

              2. It is both men and women who don’t want women to be drafted. Lots of men also don’t want themselves to be drafted but no one gives a damn to fix this inequality, something feminists purport to care about, despite how many generations it has been. Suffragettes fought real hard for the vote but not the responsibility that came with it.

              3. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5iSmsO_Sz20 How about this “squeaky wheel” talking about the Red Pill. A professor and feminist who wants to demonize men and their advocates. These people fill academia.

              4. It’s something like a 40/60 split iirc, though I don’t have the stats handy and there are lots of different types of stats used for this. It’s nowhere near negligble, despite what organizations like White Ribbon would tell you (and me, in person). I think your characterization of history is wrong and one-sided. I disagree with the idea of owernship altogether, but lets not pretend that men didn’t have responsibilities and risks of their own.

              On the topic of shelters, you’ll find you are completely ignorant on the topic (it seems feminist dogma has prevailed since almost everyone is). Here’s the website of Erin Pizzey, who started the FIRST domestic shelter.


              She has been putting up with feminists shutting down men’s shelters and their creation for decades, now. She was basically excommunicated for recognizing that men can be victims as well, and for caring about male victims. It’s not that men don’t want or need shelters… it’s that there are something like 200 of them for women per 1 men’s shelter and people worldwide have bought the myth that men are largely perpetrators. Even our legal system works this way (Duluth model). You can’t blame it all on men.

              5. I brought up circumcision as an example of a serious human rights abuse that feminists don’t give a damn about. They claim to be all about equality, as you yourself have reiterated but they don’t care about men or their issues. To them, men are oppressors so any issue they have is secondary to any women’s issues, no matter the scale or severity. The medical benefits are minimal at best, btw, and there is harm caused outside of the bodily autonomy rights being overturned.

              I recommend looking further into Erin Pizzey’s story and look into what people like Janice Fiamengo and Karen Straughan talk about if you want to know how serious some of men’s issues are, and just how egregious the actions of MAJOR feminist organizations have been.

              1. 1. I don’t know why the biggest organisations are filled with extremists. I’m not a joiner. I imagine it’s the same with politics. It’s because they’re the most passionate. It’s how politics got so partisan. The ones who care the most vote for the candidates etc.

                2. The responsibility to vote is not linked to the responsibility to fight. Do you moan about 80 year olds voting but not fighting?

                In traditional societies, women stopped fighting once they had children – that became their primary responsibility. Your view is clouded by being in the US. They are behind most of the Western world in what they allow women to do in the military. Women in my country can and do fight on the front line, as do most Western countries.

                3. I will look at that link sometime, but I have other stuff to do at the moment. And again, we’re talking about US academia. I don’t see it in NZ.

                4. I never said it was negligible, and I don’t think it is. We have a huge family violence problem in NZ and a lot is being done to address it, but, of course, it’s never enough. See my answer to BJ below.

                I don’t know how it works in your country. My experience is different. I’ve never come across a feminist here who suggest men’s shelters should be shut down. Sounds like a dreadful person to me.

                I don’t blame anything all on men, and never have. My views are always more nuanced than that on everything. That’s the problem I have with a lot of the arguments here, and you’re getting the brunt of my annoyance – lack of nuance.

                5. You keep saying “all feminists” when it’s not “all feminists”. It’s not even most feminists. I am a feminist. I care deeply about FGM, and have written about it on my own site at length.

                Most feminists are like me. We care about more than just women’s issues, and what we want is equality of treatment and opportunity. We don’t have that yet, though I acknowledge there have been huge improvements just in my lifetime, and I’m only 53. We don’t join organisations because we’re mostly too busy doing other stuff, or just aren’t interested in the direction extremists have taken them.

                I am a feminist. I care just as much if I see a man hurting as if I see a woman hurting. That is not unusual – it is how most of us are. There are always extremists, and they always get the most attention. They have a value in shifting the Overton window, but whatever the cause, extremists just pi$$ most people off. Feminism is no different.

              2. Sorry Travis – your allegations that what women have achieved since the 50s is rights without responsibilities is ludicrous. 4 x more women suffer rape/sexual assault than men and men get it from other men. Men are rarely subject to domestic violence whereas it is far too common in the west and almost normal in some non western cultures. Around a hundred women a year die from DV in Australia (with only 23 million people) Women have been able to win their rights in the west largely because the industrial/post industrial economy critically requires them in the workplace – they are essential in the economy and they do the great bulk of family work as well. Until recently women had no contraception and no legal control of their bodies and there was no rape in marriage or date rape laws – their lives and bodies could be commandeered by men. Yes most third wave feminism has gone stupid but some men criticising it hate women rights altogether. Some men want to be resentful of women for having come to have some real respect and influence in the society where once they were more or less silent “good” women supporting their culture and tribe and breeding for “Man”kind. They had no other choice but to accept this and their moral acceptability in society depended on internalising this. Their plight was held to be natural, religiously mandated or biologically determined for all time. The hard right converges with some extreme leftists in this attitude although most of the right has moderated this somewhat in the face of modern economic and technological norms.
                In some states in America STILL a woman’s assets and money are held to be her husbands for legal purposes. Not so very long ago inheritance was deemed also to go to the man. Western militaries in countries from the US to Australia always need skilled people and, whilst they don’t send women to the front to actually fight, do require women to perform roles in their ranks and are open about their need to keep recruiting women even as some of those women continue to suffer horrible abuse, sexual harassment and even rape. Women get drafted in Israel and women fight and have fought in large numbers in numerous non state resistance armies – often as in cases like Algeria and Sri Lanka – returning to highly subordinated conditions in their patriarchal community when they are finally discharged from duty. Please don’t talk about women rights without responsibilities because its bunkum.

              3. ” 4 x more women suffer rape/sexual assault than men and men get it from other men.”

                This is not true. First, look up the DOJ’s study on rape. You’ll find that your numbers bare out…until you go to the notes and find that men who were “made to pentrate” women aren’t considered to have been raped, and when they’re included, show them to be raped nearly as often as women. Furthermore, men are far less likely to report their rapes.

                Second, google studies on rapes in boys’ youth detention centers. They’re rapes at a far higher rate than women in similar detention centers, and 90% of those rapes are committed by their female guards.

                Feminists have been fighting tooth and nail to make it so “made to penetrate” is not considered rape, because once it is, the narrative will be screwed. To me, that doesn’t sound like people who care about those who suffer from sexual abuse and rape; it sounds like people who care only when women suffer, and are willing to do anything to make sure that people don’t know men also suffer the same issues, often at the hands of women.

                Nearly every man I know has at least one experience where they were “made to penetrate,” including me.

            2. Every shelter that has been tried to be built for me, feminists have protested until it was abandoned. Look to Toronto for an example just last year. Look at Erin Pizzey’s experiences trying to get them: death threats, the killing of her dog, and having to leave her home country.

              Also, if you look up the studies, 80% of domestic violence is reciprocal. Of the 20% that isn’t, it is committed at about the same rates by men and women. And men are far less likely to support it (largely thanks to the feminist-sponsored Duluth Model and the lack of resources for them).

              1. Did I say violence against men didn’t exist or wasn’t a problem? No. I acknowledged it existed and said shelters were needed. All I said was women shouldn’t be responsible for making sure they exist. I know nothing of issues around problems getting them built. I was unaware this was an issue. I live in NZ. We have a huge problem with family violence. It is being addressed, though there is always more that could be done.

                There are even shelters here for the men who do the abusing. Part of the issue is that abusers do not ask for help because of the shame around the issue so people are trying to do something about that part of it too.

              2. Weird, I can’t respond to her anymore.

                Her implication in her original point 4) was that men aren’t victims nearly as much as men. If you go back further in the context that’s what I got from it. Otherwise I have no idea what her point might have been.

              3. The problem is that feminists don’t talk about these problems. Not only do they not talk about them, they make fun of men who do by calling them “MRAs/PUAs,” “rape apologists,” and the like (I’m not saying you personally do that, but you have to admit that is the trend). I don’t care if you don’t deny the violence against males (males also make up 79% of violent crime committed against people, even when you take rape into account), you try to make it sound like women are victims far more than men, even after all the stats I’ve given out, stats that would rightfully enrage feminists if they were reversed.

              4. @Travis: the nesting system of the comments makes it so that, once a thread reaches a certain threshold, there’s no more reply button. You have to press the last available reply button, and your comment will show up after the last one made, thus replying to it.

                Hope this helps 🙂

              5. Also, if you look up the studies, 80% of domestic violence is reciprocal. Of the 20% that isn’t, it is committed at about the same rates by men and women.
                Thats just complete nonsense. There is some violence against men by women but it is far more commonly the other war.
                And in many places even in the west women still work and travel on public transport in conditions where in order to survive economically they are forced to encounter sexual advances, harassment that is socially sanctioned even if this is not as extreme as in the recent past and they do not endure the legally and socially sanctioned discrimination and denigration of the past (generally)

                Re domestic violence:

                The Pew survey data on global male attitudes to domestic violence JC(E) cited in an earlier article

              6. Somer, those articles show attitudes, not any statistics that disprove what I said.


                From the above study: “Almost 24% of all relationships had some violence, and half (49.7%) of those were reciprocally violent. In nonreciprocally violent relationships, women were the perpetrators in more than 70% of the cases.” Looks like the numbers for women committing violence against men are even worse than I thought.


                From above study: “Similar results were
                found in the National Survey of Families and
                Households.8 Studies reviewed by Gray and
                Foshee11 found that among violent adolescent
                relationships, the percentage of relationships in which there was reciprocal partner violence ranged from 45% to 72%. A recent metaanalysis found that a woman’s perpetration of violence was the strongest predictor of her being a victim of partner violence.”


                From the link above: “The International Dating Violence Study3 found that among students at 31 universities worldwide male and female students had similar rates of physically assaulting a partner (25% of men and 28% of women at the median university).” A demonstration that of the non-reciprocal violence, it is committed at about the same rate by women as by men.

                This is the stuff that creates MRAs and MGTOW. Those people see these numbers, they experience it themselves, and/or see or hear other men experience it, but the media and feminists keep shouting them down and saying, “we’re right anyway and men are toxic and violent.”

              7. Somer, just want to apologize because your first link, at least, does provide stats, but notice how those stats completely leave out the amount of violence men suffer, and how much violence is committed by women. Why is that?

  10. I am assuming that most, if not all, of the above commenters are male.

    It is legitimate to criticize poorly structured studies. It is legitimate to criticize studies that reach a conclusion and then try to fit data into that conclusion.

    What is not legitimate is to say that human interaction is not a valid field to study just because many studies are flawed.

    To point to just one example, most women, myself included, have had the experience of being ignored or denigrated during a mixed conversation or debate, only to have a man make exactly the same point five minutes later, to unanimous male acclaim. Where does that dynamic come from? Is it legitimate to even ask that question? Is it legitimate to ask men to observe that?

    To point to another pretty egregious example, Jerry posted, just a few days ago, a Nobel announcement of a woman winner who was described as a “housewife”. Do you think that the progress we’ve made beyond that point was made without any analysis?

    I’m sure that men don’t have any trouble finding good-fitting clothing to do heavy work in. I can assure you that I can’t, even in this day and age.

    Where do you suppose the term “mansplaining” came from?

    I could go on and on with examples. My point here is just to say that if you’re not even aware of stuff like this, you have no particular need to look at it, especially if it’s not causing you any problems.

    Throwing the baby out with the bath is obviously not the answer here. The answer is to help students and researchers understand what good, valid study design entails, and to encourage all researchers to follow evidence where it leads, not draw conclusions first and look for evidence afterward. But not looking at the issues at all because flawed studies exist to me demonstrates another example of the underlying problem: namely that minimizing, denigrating, or denying women’s experiences is one more way to maintain a problematic status quo.


    1. “The answer is to help students and researchers understand what good, valid study design entails….”

      Therein lies the problem. Setting a-priori goals for any kind of research is it opposite of “good, valid study deigns”.

      But then, I lack ovaries, so I shouldn’t speak up, right? That would be mansplaining.

      1. “But then, I lack ovaries, so I shouldn’t speak up, right? That would be mansplaining.”

        Not sure what I wrote above that would have prompted your snark.

        All formal research, no matter what the field, is preceded by intriguing idiosyncratic observation. If we’re not hooked by something we’ve seen, we’re not prompted to say we want to know more.

        So, no, I don’t agree that setting up an a-priori goal for research is a problem, if the goal is stated as a null hypothesis. If one says “we expect to find…”, but is still willing to state at the end that “we did NOT find…”, what’s wrong with that? You asked, and the answer was not what you expected or wanted, but at least, if you did your research design correctly, you HAVE an answer.


        1. “Not sure what I wrote above that would have prompted your snark.”

          It was the poison I found in the well.

          But I will say I do agree with much of what you wrote (especially about not throwing the baby out with the bath water).

        2. ” but at least, if you did your research design correctly, you HAVE an answer.”

          It really is pointless to defend say homeopathy with the claim that “if you did your research design properly” when the whole business is set up to NOT do it correctly. It’s a vitiated if.

          What you are ignoring is Coyne’s point that that careful proper quantitative research is exactly what the “studies” do not do. Where for example is the proof that quantum gravity theory needs be “disrupted”? The stated goal is not to test or determine anything. It is to “disrupt” real subjects with “viruses” not with evidence.

          And it sounds from the paper that this is not presented as a novel unheard of idea in the field, but rather as the articulation of a common notion. Look at the sentence before the one Coyne highlighted. The field has “goals that set it apart”. You can’t maintain that having a *goal* is actually the same as being curious about a possible null hypothesis.

        3. >Not sure what I wrote above that would have prompted your snark.<

          You disagreed with the fundamental premise that 'woman's studies' is a stupid waste of taxpayer resources – that's clearly enough to deserve all manner of snark and condescending condemnation.

          That you did so with grace, style, and specific examples is clearly not good enough.

          1. “I am assuming that most, if not all, of the above commenters are male.”

            That’s how the original post starts: the premise that you are only disagreeing with this because you are male, and I don’t know if you’re male, but you must be because you disagree.

            That’s not grace, it’s ideological assumption, snark on its own, and gets snark right back.

          2. YOUR snark is noted.

            She poisoned the well by implying that because (she assumed) all the previous posters were male, they are not qualified to speak on the subject. She then went on to make claims that also contained poison – by questioning if men even have “legitimate” opinions and she threw the loaded term “mansplaining” about after complaining clothing manufacturers don’t cater to her needs.

            In amongst that were some good points and thoughtful comments. But the poison got my dander up. The “snark” was deserved and milder than warranted.

            1. Jerry, this Netizen James is the same person who sent the nastiest remark I’ve ever received on here the other day. You asked him/her to apologize and they never did. This seems to be a pattern from this person.

              1. “Jerry, this Netizen James is the same person who sent the nastiest remark I’ve ever received on here the other day. You asked him/her to apologize and they never did.”

                The term snowflake might be appropriate at this point.

    2. “What is not legitimate is to say that human interaction is not a valid field to study just because many studies are flawed.” I don’t think that’s what any of us white, rich, privileged, cis, married guys were saying. The critique is of this particular approach to “studies.” Our wives and daughters have faced many of the same things that you mention, and we are aware of the overt and covert imbalances in our culture and we do not deny, minimize or denigrate women’s experiences. You want to hear some of my experiences that have been denigrated? I didn’t think so.

      1. “You want to hear some of my experiences that have been denigrated? I didn’t think so.”

        Please don’t make assumptions.

        If your experiences of being denigrated are idiosyncratic, they are probably painful, but not legitimate areas of study. Even then, I might be interested in them anyway.

        But, if they are representative of repeated situations, and especially if others in a cohort to which you belong have had similar repeated experiences, then they are valid for inquiry into possible larger patterns.


        1. I should have put an emoticon after my last statement since it was intended as a general comment than one specific toward you. Since this is Jerry’s website, I will let him decide whether or not he wants to write about his experiences as well as those of thousands of other conscientious objectors regarding their treatment throughout the history of US wars.

        2. You made the assumption that everyone who disagreed with you in this article is male.

          By the way, my biggest problem with most modern-day feminism? They say it’s all about equality, but imagine the outcry if 75% of suicides were women instead of men, if 75-80% of homeless people were women instead of men, if 93% of workplace injuries and 98% of workplace deaths were women instead of men, if women died eight years earlier than men on average insread of the opposite, if men were convicted at a 50% lesser rate for the same crimes and got 50% lighter sentences for said same crimes instead of the opposite, if women instead of men were by far the minority of college students both accepted and graduated and that gap was continuing to grow with nobody doing anything about it (and still giving out female-only scholarships, but not vice-versa), if every time someone tried to open a shelter for women, MRAs protested it until it got shut down (there is a total of one shelter for men in the US)…but feminists never, ever talk about these issues. They just say we’re somehow privileged anyway. Or they say these problems are actually the fault of men themselves and their “toxic masculinity,” internalized by the cishet heteronormative white supremacist patriarchy.

          Moreover, the “intersectionality.” As a Jew who grew up in a predominantly black neighborhood, every day being called “kike” and worse and having pennies and rocks thrown at me from cars and getting beat up and told they wished my whole family died in the Holocaust (only about half of them died between the Holocaust and the Bolshevik revolution)…and yet, I’ve never been oppressed and can’t be, because I’m white. Even worse, I’m Jewish, and somehow Jews aren’t on the “intersectionality” oppression scale; rather, they’re oppressors for defending the only homeland where they can be (relatively) safe, and despite being oppressed everywhere they’ve gone throughout the world for all of their history, to this day (in the US, Jews have more hate crimes committed against them as percentage of the population than any other group, and yet, silence). And these intersectionalists, rather than concentrating on real patriarchies like most Muslim countries (many of which want all Jews killed and Israel wiped off the map), concentrate on people like me.

          You can see why people like me have trouble believing this is all about equality and helping the marginalized and oppressed.

          The funny thing is, despite all the problems I listed that men have, I am no MRA, as I think they’re the other side of the same coin. I’m a humanist and egalitarian. I just want everyone to be equal. But so many feminists (and especially the ones in women’s studies) don’t seem to care about anyone but themselves and the groups they deem worthy of their attention, or seem to want revenge and/or supremacy for past wrongs committed by individuals far removed from the people the put down today. I think this is a big reason why even the vast majority of women refuse to identify as feminists: they see, through their husbands and sons and friends, that men have it tough as well. Men are repreatedly put down by the people we’re discussing, told we’re trash, rapists, “the problem” that needs to be exterminated, etc.

          Sorry for the rant. I’m not mad at you, but I had to express why a lot of people don’t take this stuff seriously. You are completely entitled to your opinion and it’s fine if I haven’t changed your mind.

          1. ” it’s fine if I haven’t changed your mind.”

            It is fine! Honestly I rarely care bout change the mind my interlocutor when I post here. I am usually more concerned with readers who don’t post hearing more than just the echo chamber. I think there is real value in refuting Linda Calhoun’s nonsense, but that value does not inhere in any prospect of her changing her mind.

          2. “They just say we’re somehow privileged anyway. Or they say these problems are actually the fault of men themselves and their “toxic masculinity,” internalized by the cishet heteronormative white supremacist patriarchy.”

            This reminded me of one of my biggest pet peeves on this topic. I often hear women say that they wish men would express their feelings more, be more sensitive, etc. But then when a man says “that hurts my feelings,” the response is (in a super-exaggerated, condescending tone of voice) “Oh no! You poor baby! So fragile! Do you want your mommy to come hug you?” etc, etc.

            Make up your minds already. Do you want men to be stoic rocks who never express emotions, or do you want us to be more sensitive and comfortable expressing our feelings?

            (None of this is directed at Linda Calhoun, though it will appear under her comment. I largely agree with that comment, as you can see below.)

            1. It is simple. We women want men to express their feelings, but there is a hidden component in this wish: they must be the correct feelings. If you have incorrect feelings, better be a stoic rock.

          3. Fair points BJ – I just get pretty annoyed when Travis expresses the old “Mankind” view of things and equates women’s struggle for equality since WW2 as “rights without responsibility”. I just fear that since the late 90s the humanitarian gains of the post WWII period are under dire threat from the rise of religion, and of new forms of stupid ideology distorting society, economy and international relations.

            I think some of the problems are restructuring and unfettered globalisation, and a growth mantra that suits big companies which profit whilst govt, taxpayers and displaced (mainly male) workers foot the costs. Many on the left support this despite their decrying “neoliberal capitalism” because it chimes with their value on borderlessness when it comes to people movements and security and multiculturalism with no expectation of integration. The marxist and modern left’s philosophical antipathy to the west as the locus of all true oppression which is defined as “capitalist” and “western imperialist” has given rise to the whole intersectional hierarchy of privilege thing. Whatever happens to the white male doesn’t matter because he is most associated with the west and capitalism. Which is not to say all feminists think that way but most do these days. Many 3rd wave feminists particularly emphasise women as top of the virtuous hierarchy of oppression but their association with the victimhood logic and anti fact ideological approach of the new left is both unfair to men and ultimately dangerous for women. This is because it abjures study of current socio economic and natural realities and if it associates with the hierarchy of oppression – then those who hate the west and are most worthy because they can be presented as “brown”, very “non Western” geographically and culturally and have been “exploited” by the West are – well we know who. Moreover this left and these feminists encourage the worst elements of the Western right – which amongst other things really is sexist.

    3. “Where do you suppose the term “mansplaining” came from?”

      People trying to use social pressure in place of evidence.

        1. So does “femsplaining”, or “ovaryacting” or any number of gendered terms meant to belittle someone and remove them from the discussion. The terms should be criticized as the divisive rhetoric that it is

          1. In many cases in which the term is used, there is no discussion to begin with, and this is the problem. Women are put down and ordered to shut up and do as they are told.

            A decade ago, my boss was male. I was in maternity leave. There was an interview, and two candidates applied, a female and a male. They met with the jury, which included the boss plus 2 female colleagues. The female candidate presented herself far better. But the boss told his colleagues, “Do you really want to hire another female, to give birth and take maternity leaves?” End of discussion. The male candidate was appointed.

            He proved quite unsuitable for the job and eventually had to leave.

    4. Good points. I think the two big problems here are language and association. To start with the latter, there are many examples of ridiculous nonsense coming from the “Studies” departments lately, so there’s a very low bar for dismissing “Studies” departments’ writing as silly and misguided. Each piece should be evaluated on it’s own merit, and what department it came from should not play a role in that evaluation. Secondly, the language used in these types of paper just invites aggressive criticism. When someone (like you just did) translates the post-modern, ultra-PC, lingo into normal everyday English, many people realize that there are actually some good points in there with which they agree.

      1. Good point about the language. I find it hard to take something seriously when my (possibly hypersensitive) buzzword detector is going off continuously, whatever the topic.

        Contra Linda et al, I’d note that PCC frequently criticises pomo nonsense, irrespective of gender, this particular specimen just happens to be ‘womens studies’.


    5. As long as you acknowledge there’s some dirty bath water, there’s plenty of room for productive discussion across fields. I 100% agree with your last paragraph, but those points are not always so well received among critical theorists (I’ve been shouted and shunned for making similar points). It’s too easy for pseudo-scholarship to hitch itself onto the wagon of social justice, where it can unjustifiably thrive by moralizing and politicizing criticism and discussion. I don’t think (m)any of us want to “deny women’s experiences,” but we should all bear in mind the problem of anecdotal evidence, that the experience of some women is not necessarily the experience of women as a class. We should also bear in mind that the mere experience of oppression does not impart special knowledge of social solutions that will improve equality in the aggregate. That requires cautious, quantitative social science that moves slowly. Calls for radical change or producing human “viruses” are not likely to be effective without substantial grounding in real science. It’s extremely easy to make things worse, extremely hard to make things better.

    6. My wife used to wear construction gear out in the field (she is a civil engineer). I don’t think she had problems finding good-fitting clothing to do heavy work.

      I also work at a lab, where PPE is vital. Women and men must wear it…no choices there. In my experience what causes men discomfort with PPE may also cause women…like it’s bloody hot.

      If society is to change anything it should be proper attire or more satchels to carry cell phones. The number of teenage girls I’ve seen sit on their phones because that’s the only pocket to put their phone in is extraodinary.

      1. More to the point – it isn’t patriarchy responsible for Ms Calhoun’s difficulty in finding work clothes to fit her. It is market economics – the people who make those heavy-duty work clothes have found that the vast majority of people who do heavy work are men. Manufacturers of heavy work clothes are NOT in the business of righting social wrongs – they are trying to make a profit. When margins are small, small markets (heavy work clothes for women) are often not profitable. So it means fewer choices or a small supply that quickly gets exhausted. No patriarchy needed.

        1. Or, why aren’t there left-handed cameras? Same reason. (It probably isn’t a cunningly-concealed conspiracy against left-handed photographers).


    7. These are worthy things to study, but they do fall into the existing categories of sociology or psychology. No need for a specific “women’s studies.”

      It’s quite possible that women are more likely to be ignored in meetings, but it could also be your biased perception. One of the problems of these disciplines is that subjective impressions are often mistaken for data.

      1. Many gender scholars (and isomorphic ones) make a career out of autoethnographies (aka “dear diary”). See Real Peer Review twitter account for several examples.

        A field of studies truly based on scholarship would consider such a practice at least laughable. And the worse is that those self appointed activists are pushing an authoritarian agenda that ultimately will suffocate human rights progress rather than promoting it.

    8. As a white, male, heterosexual, cis (I really hate this one), and therefore nazi oppressor scam of the human race, I state (therefore committing man-cis-white-het-splaining) that every manifestation of postmodernist “scholarship” (here including gender and women “studies”) is intellectually insulting and ultimately damaging for the society at large.

      I will be happy to be proven wrong by a well designed, meaningful, empirically and theoretically sound study in the postmodernist framework.

      1. This white, heterosexual, cis female (alas for the good old days when “cis” lived only in phrases such as “cis-trans test” and “cis-acting regulator”) agrees.

    9. As another female (however, w/o ovaries… surgically removed for medical reasons) person, I concur with much of what Linda writes. Throughout my long life, I’ve been in many academic, workplace, and social situations in which women were excluded from the “serious” male discussions or sent off to a separate area to discuss womanly topics such as childcare and housekeeping. This still takes place, especially among people of certain religions and cultures.

      Efforts of women should not be to punish living men for advantages that have become theirs due to a history we can’t (and shouldn’t) reframe erroneously, but to help level the playing field so that women can join the important discussions, the serious and better jobs. Equal opportunities with equal pay.

      1. “women were excluded from the “serious” male discussions or sent off to a separate area to discuss womanly topics such as childcare and housekeeping”

        Do men dictate what topics women discuss in all female groups?

    10. “Mansplaining” is just another example of how gender scholars misunderstand reality due to their solipsistic worldview. “Mansplaining” is just a gender difference in communication style, men mansplain to each other as much as they mansplain to women http://www.economist.com/blogs/prospero/2014/07/conversation-and-sexes

      All of your experiences above I’ve had with both women and other men as well, yet I don’t blame a nebulous “patriarchy” for it

      1. I will be 69 years old in a few weeks.

        I have never, not even once in my whole life, had another woman walk into a room where I was doing something and start telling me how to do it.

        I have had that experience with men many times. One of the most dramatic examples was when I was cooking a meal at friends’ house, and this total stranger (another guest to whom I had not been introduced, and who didn’t bother to introduce himself) walked into the kitchen and asked what I was cooking. When I told him, he proceeded to tell me how to cook it.

        I’m sorry, but this is not a “misunderstood reality”. I know plenty of men who don’t do stuff like that.

        Also, I have had the experience, many more times than once, of being in conversation with another woman, and some guy, overhearing the conversation to which he was not a party, interrupt, and start screaming at us. Whenever this has happened, the perp has always been male, always been white, and always started expressing his far-right-wing opinions at the top of his lungs, in a few cases complete with emanated spittle.


    11. Well said Linda. I’m surprised at some of the push back you’re getting for a perfectly reasonable response.

      The paper Jerry has highlighted is, obviously, a bad one. The examples of the genre that make it into the media are inevitably the bad ones, and unfortunately there are a lot to choose from. Extremists, by their very nature, are more outwardly passionate about their subject and tend to alienate people.

      Not all Women’s Studies is like this. A final year paper I did for my history degree could also have counted towards a Women’s Studies degree at my university. Medieval Women. It studied the lives of various English and Western European women such as Margaret Paxton, Hildegard of Bingen, Margery Kempe, Julian of Norwich etc. Most were religious because that was almost the only way for a woman to succeed on her own merit at the time. It was a completely valid paper in every way, and one of the most interesting I’d ever done.

      People shouldn’t judge the entire discipline of Women’s Studies by articles like this Virus one, or by bad institutions. They don’t do that for other valid areas of study.

      And enough with the comparisons elsewhere to things like homeopathy. Unlike homeopathic cures, women’s experiences actually exist and are valid, just like everyone else’s.

      And also enough with the whataboutery. I see a complaint for example that there aren’t enough men’s shelters in the US and we don’t hear feminists talking about that. FFS! Women have shelters, after thousands of years of being told they had no other option, because they mobilised to get them. Perhaps men should do the same. Were Civil Rights activists told they never spoke about men who were beaten and told they should be providing shelters for them too? Why is it only women’s groups, specifically those women who have had some of the worst experiences?

    12. I am female, and I agree with the post and the above (mostly male) commenters.

      My observation is that the “Women’s Studies” authors keep going after Western civilization and Western males while letting off the hook Islamic theocracy and Islam-inspired misogyny. If Women’s Studies take a stance defending women and girls raped by Muslim immigrants, I’d consider that they may have a right to exist. But judging from what I have read, they are all for immigration, the more the better, and preferably non-Western. To me, they are travesty.

    13. “To point to just one example, most women, myself included, have had the experience of being ignored or denigrated during a mixed conversation or debate, only to have a man make exactly the same point five minutes later, to unanimous male acclaim. Where does that dynamic come from? Is it legitimate to even ask that question? Is it legitimate to ask men to observe that?”

      Well I’ve had exactly the same experience (and I’m a man). It happens all the time, to almost everybody. And I’ve had women do it to me too. Some people (not always men) are just noisier than others.

      Could it just be that you’re being unduly gender-sensitive?

      I’ll certainly concede that it most often happens that it’s a man doing that, for the simple reason that most of the participants in organisational discussions (the ones I’ve attended anyway) are men (and that’s a whole other issue).


    14. What is not legitimate is to say that human interaction is not a valid field to study just because many studies are flawed.

      I hope nobody is saying that. I think the point being made is that the postmodernists are generally running the show in most departments. The tail is wagging the dog. And until that’s no longer the case, it is not generally the sort of academic area one might recommend to a young student who wants to do serious academic research.

      If some young person I know was sincerely interested in studying the impact of sexism on society, I’d almost certainly recommend they get a sociology, psychology, or anthropology degree and study sexism while doing so – rather than going into women’s studies. Because I have no problem with someone wanting to study the impact of sexism, my problem is with the fact that women’s studies departments don’t seem to be the place where people seriously do that.

  11. I’ll say it here: oppression and injustice is something that happens to an individual. Even if one creates a class of people who have been, for example, victims of muggings, the experience of each would be unique, as would be experience and motivations of their muggers. It is incorrect to say that all white men (for example) are oppressors, and that all non-white men, and only non-white men, are victims of oppression. It is also incorrect to say that all white men are guilty as a class for everything done by white men even in the past. This a priori assumption is as facile as the Marxist trope that one class oppresses another.

    But to respond to the post more directly, the various studies of supposedly marginalized groups (as opposed to the old area studies like South East Asian Studies, or true academic areas like Women’s History) are just advocacy, and should be shunted out of academic programs.

  12. “I’ll say it here: oppression and injustice is something that happens to an individual. Even if one creates a class of people who have been, for example, victims of muggings, the experience of each would be unique, as would be experience and motivations of their muggers.”

    I get what you’re saying but I think you’re putting too fine a shine on it. For example, not every European Jew wound up in a death camp during the Nazi reign, but to say that as a group (class) they weren’t oppressed and that no class-wide injustice was done to them is…well…

  13. I love that they have a reference for the claim “whiteness, heterosexuality, and maleness are not oppressed classes.” Good to know that that fact was formally established in 1992.

  14. This just adds to the pseudo-religious aspect of social justice. They talk about “viruses”, but what they really mean is “missionaries”.

  15. Rather than reply to several posts,I am going to just add one more.

    I want to reiterate that well designed research belongs everywhere, in all fields. If advocacy PRECEDES the research, that is problematical. If advocacy FOLLOWS the research, that is not.

    Imagine saying that we should not correct the leadad water situation in Flint, Michigan. Or, that we should not address the results of climate change. Or, a hundred other examples of problems uncovered by legitimate research should not be addressed.

    And, I understand the people who say that there are other problems in addition to women’s equality that need to be tackled. To them I can only respond that there are so many hours in the day, and that most people are most likely to enjoin those problems that affect them personally. Yes, we all have our blind spots. It pays to be aware of that when we want to jump in and point out others’ blind spots.

    I get exhausted when I look at the world and see everywhere the results of people wanting to best others in the victim wars. Trying to see more clearly what is actually happening, for me, usually boils down to the idea that what most people really want is to be heard, to have their pain and their problems acknowledged. I’m not shrinking heads anymore, but when I was, I found that to be the most useful when it came to helping people solve their issues for themselves.

    And, speaking of so many hours in the day, bye for now; gotta go shovel shit.


    1. Thank you, Linda and I don’t think many of us here objects to what you say.

      Only a couple of comments…

      “I want to reiterate that well designed research belongs everywhere, in all fields.
      If advocacy PRECEDES the research, that is problematical.”

      That is the problem with the article cited by RPR, Dr. Coyne and others here.

      “If advocacy FOLLOWS the research, that is not.”

      If it is advocacy it should be moved outside academia; that is to say scientific research can and should inform advocacy but it should not be directed by it.

      1. “If it is advocacy it should be moved outside academia; that is to say scientific research can and should inform advocacy but it should not be directed by it.”

        Done cleaning pens, I have a few minutes before it’s time to feed.

        I agree that research should not be directed by advocacy, but I don’t agree that advocacy should be removed from academia.

        The “ivory tower” metaphor is often well-deserved. But, who better to advocate than the most knowledgeable about a subject? Too often second-and-third-hand information is not as well expressed as it would be by those who are closest to it.

        I think that was a main goal of the science marchers. I can’t say whether it is working or not, but I hope to hear more directly from researchers about what they think we need to become more science-literate.


    2. I genuinely appreciate that you provided some response to my post above here in your new one. Thanks for that.

      But while you’re right that there are only so many hours in a day, feminists shouldn’t be saying they care about men’s issues if (1) they never talk about them (unless in a denigrating matter, like “male fragility” or “toxic masculinity), and (2) whenever these issues are brought up, the people bringing them up are either insulted (“MRA,” “right-wing fascist/Nazi,” “rape apologist,” etc.) or ignored. If feminism truly cared about equality, it would talk about the issues of all genders.

      That’s why I and so many others have stopped calling ourselves feminists and started using terms like humanist or egalitarian.

      But, again, thanks for your response to everything people have said, and for being so civil while doing it. So many people who come to this site and disagree with the prevailing view get really nasty about it. You’ve been very kind and shown a willingness to communicate.

      I commend you, regardless of our differences. Civil discussion is how we can all get along and see each other as human beings who happen to disagree, instead of just being outraged at each other all the time. You’re part of the solution, not the problem 🙂

      1. Thank you for that.

        I don’t know what other “feminists” talk about when they are together.

        The women that I know rarely speak in a derogatory manner about men in general, although I will admit to making fun of individual idiots, dudebros, etc. when their behavior is beyond the pale.

        I had an experience when I was in grad school where an internship supervisor I had was telling me that I should be more sympathetic to men, because, after all, when their wives dumped them because they (the wives) were sick of being denigrated, humiliated, and in some cases assaulted, the guys really didn’t know how to fry an egg. I’m sorry, but I laughed.

        I know men and women both who are willing to look at themselves and their foibles, and even if they don’t/can’t change, they at least have a sense of humor about the whole thing. I also know men and women both who cling like ticks to their roles, their beliefs, and their misconceptions. I avoid them.

        At this point in my life, I’d much rather laugh than scream.


        1. Just FYI, in terms of all the abuse you hear about, you might have some confirmation bias going on. Men and women commit physical abuse against their partners at about the same rates (you can look up several studies to confirm this and the other numbers I’m giving you), 80% of domestic violence is reciprocal (meaning both sides do it constantly), and women are more likely to perpetrate emotional abuse in relationships. It ain’t the 1950’s anymore.

          Interestingly, gay male relationships have far less physical abuse than lesbian relationships. I don’t know what this means, but I always found it interesting.

  16. In the 1990s when I was a student I paid attention to the so-called “Science Wars”, which my teacher Mario Bunge had participated. Through his work’s references and common edited volumes, I came across the 1994 book _Professing Feminism: Cautionary Tales from the Strange World of Women’s Studies_. The “political” goal of *some* work in WS has been worried about for almost a quarter of a century! One of the authors is a philosopher of science, which is partially why I paid attention to it. I understand there is a more recent update (2008?), too, which I haven’t read.

    One of the things (which the referenced article on this page reminds me of) is the equation of “women’s studies” with “feminist”. Like earlier when I wondered if we should “universalize” the latter, why not universalize the former too? Or, putting it in a worried way: it seems to suggest that in order to count as a feminist, one has to accept that WS is a field that should exist, which I think is at least debatable.

    1. Oh, and I think that the way to handle “should it exist”, is to have a general study of oppression, the sciences (social, biological, mixed) of sex and gender, etc.

      1. There is nothing wrong with trying to refine the historical record by (finally) including formerly excluded achievements of women. Nor is it wrong to finally give credit to the many women who should have had an equal share in acknowledgment of their part in any human progress. I find it more than problematic when any group that has been marginalized thinks the best correctives are militant hatred. Even the less than stellar aspects of history cannot be changed, but we can teach (and learn) not to keep repeating the inequities.

        1. Oh, I have no problem with that if done correctly.

          (However, I have seen many attempts that are dubious – for example, including Diotima as a philosopher. Most of Plato’s characters are real people, but she teaches to Socrates something that (as far as we can tell) only *Plato* adopted, so her very existence is dubious.)

  17. Is it certain that these are genuine feminist opinions because to me they read like subtle pieces against feminism.
    These opinions ring all the right bells to invite hostile responses from males

  18. It’s been asked up thread if articles like this ‘virus’ one are what feminists care about. As if this kind of writing is all there is on women’s issues.
    If one compares this virus article, which was published in Feb. 2016, to the writings of Sheryl Sandberg, the impact pales in weight. The grand majority of women in the US care about far more practical issues, that are addressed in Sandberg’s books, than about articles published in obscure journals. To avoid the negativity now associated with the words ‘feminist’ or ‘feminism’, the subjects discussed in more mainstream books and magazines are called ‘workplace issues’ or ‘work/life balance’ and so forth.

  19. Telling heterosexual white males that they are too dumb to realize they are privileged will be about as successful as telling potential Trump voters that they are deplorables. And yes, there are a lot of misogynistic asshole white males out there – about all I can really do to combat them is to vote Democratic.

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