Top 3 Reasons To Take A Gender Studies Class In College
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Politics and Activism

Top 3 Reasons To Take A Gender Studies Class In College

Because feminism is for everybody.

Top 3 Reasons To Take A Gender Studies Class In College
Lawrence University

This spring, I stopped reading feminist literature purely for fun and started doing it for credit.

My college does not offer a major in Women's/Gender Studies (yet....), but interested students can pick up a minor. Messiah's Gender Studies program is small but mighty, and ever-growing. I took my first official Gender Studies classes—Human Sexuality and Women and Men in American Society—this spring. After a difficult fall semester full of health problems and a taxing mandatory science credit, my Gender Studies courses felt like coming home. I free-fell into their coursework with a zeal only a few of my other courses have tapped.

Perhaps the idea of taking a Gender Studies class does not fill you with that same excitement. If you're in a busy major, it might seem impossible to fit a Gender Studies class into your schedule. If you don't "need" it to fill a graduation requirement, why bother? It's only going to be filled with hairy-legged man haters, anyway, right?

If you're feeling skeptical at the idea of adding a Gender Studies class to your current courseload, I would encourage you to check your perceptions at the door and consider the following benefits:

3. Relevancy

Just like science or math, Gender Studies coexists with constancy and change. The field of study itself may not be as established as math and science are in today's colleges and universities, but gender's presence in society predates these academic areas. It has affected humanity before anyone even thought of studying it in a college setting.

Some people would like to do away with gender categories altogether. But, would this mean the end of Gender Studies, if it were to occur? Not at all! Gender Studies evolves with the culture, and it would always be a part of our history, even if it were no longer a part of our present.

2. Readings

As feminism has flourished in society, the amount of gender-issue related literature has also increased. As such, every Gender Studies class has its own unique reading list. Some texts—like Betty Friedan's "The Feminine Mystique" and Simone de Beauvoir's "The Second Sex"—are standbys of the typical Gender Studies curriculum, but there is lots of variety there, too. In my Women and Men in American Society class, we read Estelle B. Freedman's "The Essential Feminist Reader," a collection of feminist essays and excerpts spanning all three waves of feminism, as well as the globe. Always take note of an author's name on a text; the women and men behind your coursework are worth both learning from and learning about.

1. Relationships

In an introductory Gender Studies class, you can find two classes of people: those who really want to be there, and those who are just checking off a credit requirement. By the end of the semester, some of those in the latter category will have moved over to the former. For those who already self-identify as feminists, a Gender Studies class is a great place to find your people—the ones who understand and share your commitment to gender equality.

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You might also find a friend in your professor. Gender Studies classes are taught differently than those in other disciplines, leading to a more interactive and intimate experience. A good Gender Studies professor not only teaches the material well, but models how to live a feminist life. I was fortunate to find such a person in my Woman and Men in American Society professor, and look forward to the other feminist mentors I will gain as I advance in my studies.

Gender Studies classes have value beyond these three areas, of course. They are great exercises in thinking critically and getting out of one's comfort zone. That one Gender Studies class (if you can stop at only one) might not totally transform your life...but it will improve your life.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.

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