What I've Learned So Far As A Women's Studies Minor
Politics and Activism

What I've Learned So Far As A Women's Studies Minor

My brief education in basket weaving.

3
National Museum of American History

So I have this friend; let’s call them R. I’ve been close with R since the first week of college. A few days ago, walking out of class with our Starbucks cups in hand, we got on the subject of my minor - Women’s and Gender Studies. Or, as R would call it, Basket Weaving. My classes consisted of Basket Weaving 102 and an Introductory History of the Basket. My professor got her Ph.D. in Basket Weaving and worked closely with the heads of our school’s department to make Basket Weaving a major. At that point, R was on a role and I can’t lie and say I didn’t admire their commitment to the bit. So I stayed quiet and laughed at the appropriate times, but it really got me thinking. Why do so many people not take Gender Study seriously?

I should probably say that I myself am being a bit hypocritical when I ask this question. Before starting college, I didn’t know that Women’s and Gender Studies existed. To be honest, I didn’t know that it was a thing that needed to be studied. I -- like so many people I know -- couldn’t see what everyone was complaining about because, dude, women have their rights already. But every time I walk into class my eyes are both physically and metaphorically opened to the fact that there is so much that I did not know. Even after the bra burnings and crusading Gloria Steinem’s of the past, sexism still exists. Granted, it’s a form a little bit quieter than what one would think, but it’s still there.

Every morning, I walk about a block from the train station to school, and in that block exists the many stereotypes of the city. One cold Tuesday, I was walking to class when two of those stereotypes came my way and one shouted, “Hey mama!” Before he could say anything more, I told him to put it exactly where the sun doesn’t shine and, ever so suddenly, I became the bad guy. I was the big meanie for not welcoming the advances of a complete stranger who was yelling at me and looking at me like a piece of meat. And this had happened to me before, always ending the same way:

“Fine, be that way.”

“I was just being friendly.”

“You’re ugly anyway.”

I’ve heard stories like this from many girls I know, and I’m sad to say that some of my stories were pretty tame in comparison to theirs. I’ve also heard stories of women getting chased down in parking lots and facing death threats, even blatant rape threats. Luckily, nothing that extreme has ever happened to me, but the fact that it still happens is something worth paying attention to. People make jokes about the unapologetically hairy, man-hating, extreme feminists around today, but Gender Study still is relevant for the exact reasons that those women are made fun of. Yes, they can take things to extremes. And yes, there’s not much in terms of career options when it comes to Gender Study. But the sheer point of it is to learn, absorb, and walk away with the knowledge that things aren’t what you may have thought they were.

The motto of the second wave of feminism in the 1970s was, “The personal is political.” Women do have rights. They can work and vote and own property and live their lives the way they want to. But the most subtle forms of sexism come out in the personal stories, the ones people don’t always hear about. The catcalling, the threats, even the quiet, leering once-overs as you walk by. Some of this stuff is under-reported because - and I know from experience -- some people are too ashamed to talk. The point of Gender Study is to talk. Call it Basket Weaving all you want; at least, you’re talking about it. But, please, don’t ever say that there is no point in studying it.

Report this Content
This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
Taylar Banks

May 25, 2020: the day that will forever be remembered as the day George Floyd lost his life at the hands of cops.

The day that systematic racism again reared its head at full force in 2020.

Keep Reading... Show less
Lifestyle

These 17 Black-Owned Businesses Ship Baked Goods, Rosé, And Even Fried Chicken Nationwide

Eat your way through this country's greatest food — from your couch.

Call it the easily bored Gemini in me, but I'm constantly looking for new food to try. Usually, travel quenches my taste for new and exciting cuisines, but given the fact that international travel is not always a possibility, I've begun exploring alternatives.

In the interest of wanting to support the Black community and Black-owned businesses, and also wanting to try some of the country's greatest food without having to get off my couch, I started off (pessimistically) doing research, only to find that the options were vast.

Keep Reading... Show less
Lifestyle

24 Beauty And Style Brands Donating To The Fight To End Police Brutality Against Black People

From small, boutique brands to legacy fashion brands.

The worlds of beauty and fashion often collide, whether for good or bad. In both, underrepresentation has always been, and remains to be, a major unresolved issue. After the recent killing of George Floyd, many people are rightfully enraged, compounded by the fact his death in police custody wasn't an isolated incident.

Police brutality against Black people is not new, and isn't going away till we start dedicating resources to fighting it. Many of us, as individuals, have only begun in the last week scratching the surface of what it means to educate ourselves on race, historical race relations, and how to be an ally to the Black community.

Keep Reading... Show less
Health and Wellness

Feel A Lil' Better: Because You Can Still Connect While Disconnecting From Social Media

Your weekly wellness boost from Odyssey.

No matter how good (or bad) you'd describe your health, one thing is for sure: a little boost is ALWAYS a good idea. Whether that's reading a new, motivating book, or listening to a song that speaks to your soul, there are plenty of resources to help your health thrive on any given day.

I don't know if you've heard, but there's a lot going on right now, particularly in relation to George Floyd's death, Black Lives Matter, and public protest of racial injustice in the United States. While we can all agree that this deserves conversations, change, and actionable good, social media arguments with Great Aunt Linda are not where social change begins and ends. Spending too much time scrolling through your phone has never been healthy, but now it's even more addicting — what does that one person from my hometown say about this? How can I further education within discussions? Am I posting enough?

Keep Reading... Show less

I don't know about you, but reading is at the top of my to-do list this summer... especially with all the social distancing I'll still be doing. If, like me, you're hoping to pick up a romantic page-turner (or a couple dozen), here are 23 romance novels by Black authors you'll absolutely LOVE reading.

Keep Reading... Show less
Lifestyle

22 Black-Owned Etsy Shops With The Perfect Gifts For Everyone In Your Life — Including You

Treat yourself and your loved ones while supporting Black creatives and artisans.

R-KI-TEKT, Pontie Wax, Lovely Earthlings, and blade + bloom on Etsy

The world is taking action against the injustices and under-representation plaguing Black lives, and one small but impactful thing you can do to actively make a difference is support Black-owned businesses.

Etsy is likely one of your go-to sites for gift-buying, but have you ever paid attention to which independent artists and sellers you're buying from?

Keep Reading... Show less
Health and Wellness

True Self-Care Is HARD, That Face Mask Isn't Actually Going To Solve Your Problems

There's a line between self-care and self-destruction.

Anyone who hasn't been living under a rock for the past few years has seen something somewhere about self-care whether it was on Facebook, Twitter, or their Instagram feed. Oftentimes it's pictures of celebrities or influencers sipping green smoothies or slathering on mud masks with #selfcare. It's posts like these that made me realize that "self-care" has become the ultimate buzz word, soaring in popularity but in the process, it's lost most of its original meaning. It's time to set the record straight and reclaim the term.

Although self-care has been around for quite some time, within the past few years it's been misconstrued and commodified as our capitalist society tends to do with things it thinks can be profited off. Self-care is now being peddled as something that can be bought and sold on the shelf at Target rather than something that takes real work to achieve. This fake self-care movement is not only enabling people to over-indulge themselves, but it has created a crutch for people to avoid the responsibility of taking true care of themselves. Instead of doing the work that needs to be done, many people fall into the trap of rewarding themselves for doing nothing at all — this can quickly become an unhealthy coping mechanism, especially with corporations cheering us on (to buy their next product). Long, hard day at work? Just grab your third iced coffee of the day! Fight with your SO? Buy that 50-dollar face mask, it'll make you feel better! This is how self-care becomes self-sabotage and self-destructive.

Keep Reading... Show less

Minorities are consistently under-represented in our day-to-day lives, notably in the world of fashion. It's likely you're looking for a way to support black artists. Whether that's the case or you're just a fashion-lover in general, these brands aren't just some of the best black-owned fashion brands — they're some of the most innovative brands of our time, period.

From luxury staples to fun accessories and loungewear, these brands aren't just stunning names you should definitely be following on Instagram, each honors the founder's roots in unique ways with the power of storytelling through artistic expression that manifests in pieces we can't wait to wear.

Keep Reading... Show less
Facebook Comments