In Eric Szkarlat’s column, (Gender studies 101, 12/09/2011) he criticized feminism and the field of women’s studies for not being concerned about “true equality of the sexes.” I’m writing to invite Eric — and anyone else who is curious about gender and inequality — to take WS240, our introductory course, to learn what we’re about.
As Szkarlat notes, women activists started our field and our name, women’s studies, reflects and honors that history. But today, women’s studies encompasses much more than that. One of the first ideas we talk about in WS240 is that if the aim of feminism is for women to be equal to men, it begs the question of which men women should be equal to. Certainly all men aren’t equal. So if we want to understand the ways gender is at work in society and to work for equality, we must also try to understand the ways race, sexuality, social class, ability and other forms structure our society and opportunities within.
For this reason, our mission statement describes our department as dedicated to building interdisciplinary collaborations among faculty and students that bridge gender, racial, ethnic, economic and national divides; creating new knowledge about women, gender, race and sexuality; challenging unequal distributions of power; and improving the lives of all women and men. Here in women’s studies, we do believe that in the future we can have a more just society. And we’re working for it every day. Please join us!
Elizabeth R. Cole
Chair of the Department of Women’s Studies