Feminism | Posted by Julie Z on 04/15/2010

Male Studies (As Opposed to Women’s Studies)

INFERIOR AND INSUFFICIENT

INFERIOR AND INSUFFICIENT

On Monday, the New York Times reported about the creation of a “Male Studies” program at Wagner College in Staten Island.

Christina Hoff Sommers, a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute and author of The War Against Boys: How Misguided Feminism Is Harming Our Young Mendecided to throw in her two cents (and really, that’s what it’s worth) saying, “I am concerned that it’s widespread in the United States that masculinity is politically incorrect.”

Dr. Lionel Tiger, a professor of anthropology at Rutgers, and supporter of Male Studies, identifies feminism as the root of all evil, calling it, “a well-meaning, highly successful, very colorful denigration of maleness as a force, as a phenomenon.”

Wow. Where to start? Well, first of all, the last time I checked, any course with the word “history” in it is generally the study of the actions of men. Now, I can’t say for certain if that’s true at the university level, but I know it is for sure at the high school level. My current history book has neat little side-bars about notable women, as if to say,“Hey, kids, every 20 pages out of this 1000+ page textbook we’re going to devote 4 sentences to a GENUINE FEMALE!” Progress, clearly.

But seriously, masculinity politically incorrect? REALLY? So the fact that there are dozens of hyper-masculine action movies that come out each year to great commercial success…thats just a coincidence, huh? Oh, and what about the fact that guys who are even slightly feminine are terrorized in high schools across the country (I have seen this firsthand, don’t even try to deny it)? I think that theory needs some work.

And can we please stop enforcing the idea that feminism is man hating? IT IS NOT MAN HATING!! Maybe if these people who hate feminism so much bothered to sit down and talk to an ACTUAL feminist (not a stereotype), maybe do some reading, they would come away with a different conclusion.

I’m not saying feminism – or the field of women’s studies for that matter – is without its problems. I’ve been researching women studies programs across the country myself, and the general theme is that though they may be called “Women’s Studies” programs, they are almost always more focused on the intersection of race, class and gender than just studying women.

Maybe instead of “Women’s Studies” and “Male Studies” we can just have “Gender Studies.” Would that be so bad?

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  • KrystieY @ at 11:48 am, April 15th, 2010

    I completely agree Julie, when I read about this I was so upset because we’re really taking one step backward, not forward. Yuck.

  • Paul Elam @ at 2:45 pm, April 15th, 2010

    We already have gender studies. It is warmed over women’s studies and the way it came about was simply to start calling women’s studies programs gender studies, without changing or adding anything to the coursework to address men’s issues.

    In other words, gender studies is just a preemptive ploy by feminist ideologues to keep male studies from emerging.

    Looks like it is not working.

  • Brenna @ at 5:27 pm, April 15th, 2010

    These people make this “Male Studies” course seem more like an “Anti-Women Course” if they’re going to attack feminism. Male Studies could be a good thing if it addresses and teaches about the things that you mentioned, the hyper-masculinity in movies, bullying of guys that might do “feminine” things, and other things like that.

  • Nicole @ at 9:07 pm, April 15th, 2010

    Staten Island – represent! Well, not really. Of course, living here has always built up some controversy. Even though misogyny is rampant on this island, Wagner College never quite fit here to begin with. Knowing Wagner College’s reputation, I highly doubt that this course will be, as Breanna mentioned, an “Anti-Women Course.” Calling it a gender studies course would be their best bet though. As Julie pointed out, even Women’s Studies courses focus on the relationships between all genders.

  • Carrie @ at 12:29 pm, April 16th, 2010

    No, no, I have read more about this college’s attempt to create a “male’s studies” major, and there are misogynistic themes within it. The college professors who are trying to set it up have made out feminists to all be man-haters.

    BTW, Paul, I don’t think most feminists are plotting in a conspiracy! That is ridiculous.

  • Juliet @ at 1:54 pm, April 16th, 2010

    Since women have been marginalised since the beginning of time, women’s studies is giving us the chance to empower and study ourselves. All thought, all literature, all philosophy is based on male ways of thinking, and women have never had a way of articulating their own difference. The world IS male studies – women’s studies is giving us our own platform in a male-dominated canon.

  • Daniela @ at 4:42 am, April 17th, 2010

    In NZ it is called Gender Studies, not Women’s Studies, and while it is undoubtedly focused on “women” (and race, class etc) we also study masculinities. I think the Women’s Studies tag is misleading and there is definite potential for masculinity and femininity (a poor, dichotomous choice of words, I apologise) to be taught together in the Gender Studies programme.

  • Nuclear Rainbow @ at 2:11 am, April 19th, 2010

    Here in the Netherlands it’s called genderstudies as well, and there is lots of attention for masculinity as well.
    I am more worried about the lack of psychological research in the genderstudies-curriculum, to be quite honest.

    /NR

  • Courtney @ at 11:10 am, April 19th, 2010

    I took my Women’s Studies class expecting to learn more about the progress being made by women who are truly working to level out the playing field, but what I learned was more about all people who are oppressed and what we can do now to level out the playing field. There was never any male bashing in my class, just a solid presentation of fact and statistics related with those facts. We even had a male in our Women’s Studies class and I do not think he ever left feeling as though we had degraded or blamed him for society’s problems.

  • Toongrrl @ at 12:19 pm, April 19th, 2010

    Oy. This is what evil looks like

  • Adrian @ at 10:39 pm, April 20th, 2010

    Personally, I think it would be interesting to take a course in a Male Studies major. I say this because it would be neat to compare and contrast between a Women’s Studies major. Although, I am not 100% agreeing with the need for a Male Studies major. I believe we get enough of “studying” from every day life.

  • Alex @ at 12:39 am, April 21st, 2010

    I saw this mentioned elsewhere. They contrasted it with “Men’s Studies” point out that while Men’s Studies had a feminist slant, Male’s studies was specifically designed with a gender essentialist slant. Sounded like they didn’t want men learning to question their masculinity.

  • Ryan @ at 7:40 am, April 25th, 2010

    Yes, you are correct it is very politically oriented with a race, class, gender theme… One can substitute Patriarchy for the word Capitalism.

    My class was essentially a boot camp for Cultural Marxist indoctrination.

    I believe that Male Studies is important in that it will offer a perspective from the male point of view which undoubtably will be scientifically objective in origin and less ideological and political..

    When I attended my Women’s Studies class I really could not understand how these people got into our colleges in the first place. As unfortunate as it is these people are now IN THE WHITEHOUSE. Anyway, it really blew my mind that they were teaching this stuff in the science wings of higher educational institutions ALL OVER THE COUNTRY…

    Another issue that Male Studies will contest is the fact that gender is a social construct, a much needed addition to human knowledge if we are to be making “the personal political” and instituting gender based policies from the Federal Level. Through my studies I do not think our founders intended to make policies based of gender race or religion. The fact that gender secular interests are building representation within government is ALARMING TO ME and to anyone who understands the very basic elements on which this country was founded..

    Further Reading:

    “Feminism, Socialism, and Communism are one in the same, and Socialist/Communist government is the goal of feminism.” – Catharine A. MacKinnon, Toward a Feminist Theory of the State (First Harvard University Press, 1989), p.10

    “A world where men and women would be equal is easy to visualize, for that precisely is what the Soviet Revolution promised.” – Simone de Beauvoir, The Second Sex (New York, Random House, 1952), p.806

    “The Women’s Caucus [endorses] Marxist-Leninist thought.” — Robin Morgan, Sisterhood is Powerful, p. 597

    See works of Alexandra Kollontai:

    http://www.marxists.org/archive/kollonta/

    The Bolsheviks opened a Council On Women and Girls just like Obama did. It was called the Zhenotdel

  • Katherine @ at 1:10 pm, April 27th, 2010

    Male Studies? Puh-lease. It’s called “History.” There ya go, men.
    Men have dominated art, politics and culture for all of recorded history. What’s next, Male History Month? Just in case we missed it in the previous 11?

  • Malyssa @ at 1:26 pm, April 30th, 2010

    lol @ Katherine. (because I agree) lol @ Ryan because of course there is a need for an “objective male point of view.” Listen to yourself! Are we wrong? hahaha

  • old catgirl @ at 8:18 am, May 1st, 2010

    It’s Gender Studies in Australia, too. Masculininity studies are a worthwhile thing, as opposed to reactionary men’s groups which see feminism as evil, and want women to go back to stereotyped gender roles. If we ask ‘what is it to be a woman?’, it’s fair to ask ‘then – what is it to be a man?’

    Men and women tend to construct themselves as opposites and many men are confused in a world when the stereotypes are challenged. Many women are similarly confused, which is why books like ‘The Rules’ are bestsellers. A friend once said to me that most people don’t want to have to think too hard about anything – they just want to be told what to do.

    Second wave feminism was revolutionary in the 60s and 70s, but it isn’t realistic to expect that single period to change how a whole society thinks and functions in one or two generations. Germaine Greer said recently that feminism was just beginning. I agree. The war has just begun. So it’s over to you younger ones – the next generation! As a Second Waver/Baby Boomer, I feel old reading this blog, but it gives me faith. Thank you.

  • Rory Jackson @ at 5:32 pm, May 27th, 2010

    I currently study a module on sexual theory and the notion of masculinity studies is an interesting, if not misguide, one. I believe that gender studies is indeed fixated on feminist theory and leaves glaring gaps on subject of societies perceptions of masculinity.

    I don’t think masculinity studies has much merit as an actual degree, however there is certainly something to be about including the concept of masculinity in gender studies to a higher degree than today. Too often am I studying about the objectification of the female form, when the masculine archetype portrayed in the media and pushed on men by society is just as problematic.

    Feminism is a field of study which analyses the place and equality of women in society. What good is that if men aren’t thinking about it as well?

  • Mark @ at 12:41 pm, May 30th, 2010

    It’s a matter of symantics… Seriously…

  • danielle @ at 12:16 am, June 14th, 2010

    We should have masculine studies and
    this is the man that should be teaching it:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michael_Kimmel

  • danielle @ at 12:18 am, June 14th, 2010

    More about Michael Kimmel

    http://www.feministing.com/archives/018406.html

  • William @ at 8:42 pm, October 1st, 2010

    Why would anyone be threatened? Not a step backward if you want equality.

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