September 14, 2004

Issues with Women’s Studies Recently,

Issues with Women’s Studies

Recently, one of the (literally) hundreds of readers of “The Hatemonger’s Quarterly” sent us an e-mail that was chock-a-block with praise for our recent post concerning the ridiculousness of academic paper titles.

This reader—let’s just call him Morton Fish of Topeka (KA)—informed us that our hilarious musings helped him recall a foolish syllabus he’d seen. In a spirit of great generosity, Morton sent us a link to the syllabus in question, which is from the Women’s Studies Department at Northern Arizona University.

Immediately, we, the crack young staff of “The Hatemonger’s Quarterly,” were intrigued. One of our junior editors—let’s just call him “Chip”—was particularly captivated, since he had recently received his cooking certificate from Northern Arizona University, and thus fondly recalls the three weeks of educational bliss he enjoyed at that fine institution of higher learning.

In fact, we, the crack young staff of “The Hatemonger’s Quarterly,” are going to go out on a limb and declare that Northern Arizona University is far superior to Southern Arizona University. And don’t even mention Southwestern Arizona State: That place is a garbage dump.

But we digress. The syllabus that our faithful reader sent to us comes from a class numbered Women’s Studies 394. The instructor of this dauntingly high-level class, Naomi J. Pinion, offers the interesting course title “Issues in Women’s Studies: Queer Studies.”

Very queer, isn’t it? But don’t worry, dear reader. The very first sentence of Ms. Pinion’s course description lets the student(s) in on the nature of the class:

This interdisciplinary course is designed to introduce students to the academic field of Lesbian and Gay Studies.

Aha! It is peculiar that Ms. Pinion had to inform us that the course concerned the “academic field of Lesbian and Gay Studies.” What other kind of field could she mean? Strawberry field? It seems as if Ms. Pinion fears that some might not perceive “Lesbian and Gay Studies” to be a subject of academic inquiry.

But have no fear, dear reader: Ms. Pinion’s course description makes crystal clear how serious this class is:

By examining the lives, contributions, and concerns of gay and lesbian people, students will gain a greater appreciation for the diverse world in which we all live, and move on to foster a more tolerant and accepting society.

This is serious, n’est pas? It’s somewhere between a university course and an exercise in radical politics—just the sort of thing we have come to expect from our friends in Women’s Studies. We’re sure that Ms. Pinion’s course will present the views of fundamentalist Christians, orthodox Jews, and Muslims on homosexuality in a dispassionate light; after all, these are some of the groups that make our world so “diverse.”

We know what you are thinking, dear reader: What kinds of learned tomes must one read in WST 394?

Well, for starters there’s Anne Fausto-Sterling’s fair-minded Sexing the Body: Gender Politics and the Construction of Sexuality. Those in Ms. Pinion’s class will be exposed to (if you’ll pardon the pun) such important chapters of this work as “Of Gender and Genitals.”

And then there’s Martin Duberman’s A Queer World: The Center for Lesbian and Gay Studies Reader, one of whose chapters asks the fundamental question “Are Modern Western Lesbian Women and Gay Men a Third Gender?”

Now, we, the crack young staff of “The Hatemonger’s Quarterly,” don’t claim to be experts on Women’s Studies, but we think we have the answer to that question: No.

Yet this is not the only awe-inspiring portion of the book. Ms. Pinion informs us that her students will read “Creating Good-Looking Genitals in the Service of Gender.” My, that does sound serious.

Still, we think that Mr. Duberman could have chosen a more appropriately academic title for this chapter. After all, in the world of the radical professorate, a silly title is king. (Or, we suppose, queen.) How about “Creating Good-Looking Genitals in the Cervix of Gender”?

Now that’s more like it.

Posted at September 14, 2004 12:01 AM | TrackBack