Features, Feminism

What I Learned In My Women’s Studies Classes

When I first discovered women’s studies, I was lulled into a comforting sense that I had discovered the “truth.” It was as if my veil of ignorance had been yanked away, and I was blissfully seeing the world for what it really was.

I have taken seven women’s studies classes; initially at a nondescript state university and later at a women’s college in Manhattan. After taking those classes, I realize that not only was I deluded, but I was led into an absurd intellectual alcove where objective truth is subordinate to academic theories used as political propaganda.

Indeed, since knowledge itself is considered a patriarchal construct, feminist theories are the organizing principles of classes.

The theoretical backbone of women’s studies is grounded in three main conjectures: that of the patriarchy, intersectional oppression, and social constructionism.

None of these contentions can be proven or falsified. Yet, as a student, good grades are contingent on agreeing with them. So what do they actually represent?

No theory is more fundamental to academic feminism than the theory of the patriarchy.  Quite simply — and perhaps too simply — patriarchy is the theory that there is a regime of institutionalized male control over women.

Male control, and thus, its logical consequence — female oppression — is the foundational theory my classes were structured on.

But while patriarchy theory debuted in Kate Millet’s book Sexual Politics (1970), feminists soon realized that oppression didn’t exist just along the lines of gender.

Almost 20 years later, in 1989, Kimberlé Crenshaw challenged the notion of oppression existing on just the “single categorical axis” of gender. She introduced another axis of oppression: race.

This led the path for intersectional, or inter-axis, oppression. But why just analyse oppression through the vectors of race and gender?

The hidden message of intersectional oppression is clear: oppression is everywhere. Perhaps you think this is an exaggeration. Surely women’s studies do not teach that oppression is “everywhere,” does it? (Yes, it does.)

So, if you’re not finding oppression: look harder.  The unfortunate consequence of this theory is that oppression will be found everywhere — even where it doesn’t exist.

Finally, the last theory my classes were predicated on is “social constructionism.” According to this theory, everything we can observe, such as gender differences, are because people have “constructed” them. Culture matters.

While this doctrine can yield valuable insights, it also engenders women’s studies’ biggest blind-spot: biology. Social constructionism theory was meant to subvert the former prominence of biological determinism, but perhaps it worked a little too well.

Decades ago, popular thinking was biology caused gender differences, nothing else. Now, the pendulum in theorizing has shifted. Nay, biology doesn’t determine fate, but culture.

Men are violent not because of hormones, but because of socialization into “toxic masculinity.” And women, who are more nurturing, do so because of sexist conditioning, says social constructionism.

In fact, merely mentioning biological differences can be wrongthink. Or worse, as I learned in one of my classes, it can be upsetting to genderqueer or transgender students. Thus, some of the root causes of what makes men and women differ — hormonal, neurological, and biological differences — is left out of the discussion.

Mentioning dissident academics is also wrongthink. For example, during a discussion on intersex individuals, I earnestly recalled an article I read by well-known academic Alice Dreger. “Transphobic and problematic,” my professor tisked.

We were also taught that our personal experiences were forms of knowledge, “lived experience.” This is why discussions that began with students rhapsodizing on feminist theory often devolved into emotional overindulgence. Class discussions trend towards group-therapy sessions. In fact, this is why my syllabi have often employed disclaimers telling students that “what is said in the classroom, stays in the classroom.”

In all, the thick academic prose of feminist scholars confers gravitas to what otherwise could resemble political propaganda. “The patriarchy is the root cause of everything! Fight it now!”… if only the word patriarchy was replaced with capitalism, it’d be similar to communist propaganda.

It’s no coincidence that many of my former professors had academic backgrounds in Marxism. In fact, it makes sense now, since redistribution of privilege (and not just capital) is an imperative for a utopian post-oppression society.

Don’t get me wrong; I’m not suggesting that my professors are bad people. They’re not, and as people, I respect them tremendously. My concern is not with them, but with the subject content itself.

Oppression does indeed exist. But, oppression is complicated, far more complicated than can be distilled in an undergraduate academic setting.  And teaching students how to view the world through the lens of oppression isn’t just dangerous, but cruel. Nothing is more oppressive than having your professors teach you that you’re a victim.


Toni Airaksinen is a rising junior at Barnard College in Manhattan. She has previously written for Allthink and The Columbia Spectator. She tweets @Toni_Airaksinen

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Filed under: Features, Feminism


Toni Airaksinen is a reporter for Campus Reform, The College Fix, and Red Alert Politics. She is a junior at Barnard College in Manhattan.


  1. Virgil says

    This brand of feminism is a lot easier to understand if you substitute the word “patriarchy” for “international zionist conspiracy” or “Bilderberg group” or “lizard-people”. You usually don’t have to change another word and the reasoning will remain consistent.

    • Good point. Though I’d add that “this brand of feminism” is misleading. All brands of feminism led to this. This most recent, radical ‘third wave’ is the logical end-game of decades of feminist writing. Don’t believe me? Read the books yourself.

  2. The staple of feminist insanity is the “pay gap” or “wage gap,” a construct which assumes (without merit) that financial resource control arises only and ever from employment.

    I am a child of the seventies. I grew up in the days of Women’s Lib and Helen Reddy’s “I am Woman” as our national anthem. All my life I have been force-fed the bromide that “women are paid only 75% (or whatever the number was that week) of what a man is paid for the same work!”

    It then follows that, somewhere out there, there must be AT LEAST ONE job, employer, career field, or trade in which I will be paid 25-30% more than my female co-workers ON DAY ONE merely for having the correct set of genitals. For the last thirty years or so I have quested for this job without success. I can’t find it. Nobody I know can identify it. Women who proclaim the gospel of the “pay gap” consistently fail to cite a single profession, job, trade, or environment where this is true. The loudest voices proclaiming the supposed 75/100 rate cannot name a single profession in which my genitals entitle me to a pay gap of that magnitude ON DAY ONE. But I have personally known a host of lawyers who drool at the thought of such an employer as a target for a fat lawsuit.

    What do I get instead? References to summaries of all incomes in all fields across multiple decades, leading to multiple and considerably more viable reasons for pay disparity than sex. These include (but are not limited to) types of work, stress levels, degrees of accountability, “the death professions,” indoor and protected (mostly female) v. outdoor exposure to the elements (mostly male), and trades of tremendous technical necessity where an error can get you killed (such as chemical engineer) are equivocated to trades of slippery emotionalism where grotesque distortions of reality (such as social worker) are par for the course. I get context-dropping, in which a man who works constantly for twenty years has a higher salary than a woman–blithely ignoring the five to seven years the woman dropped out to generate and care for children. I get nonspecific references to past centuries, sweat shops where women labor in front of sewing machines (blithely ignoring men laboring and dying in coal mines), and the like. I also get subject changes and conclusion jumping of a magnitude that it should be considered an olympic sport. But mostly I get outrage and histrionic explosions similar to telling a Westboro Baptist acolyte that theirs is not the true faith, or trying to argue with a Klansman that blacks and Jews aren’t all that bad (and this is no exaggeration–the froth and spittle really DO fly when “where’s your evidence?” enters the discussion). I also get smarmy condescension, like the pedophile who rationalizes molestation because “you just don’t understand the esoteric alchemy.” It’s wrapped up as “you don’t understand what it means to be a woman.”

    Additionally, there seems to be no reference to the fact that women receive some 86% of the “safety net” money: TANF (aka Welfare), WIC, SCHIP, food stamps, S8 housing, child support, Social Security, Medicaid, and countless other programs. What happens to the “pay gap” if you incorporate the money women receive despite having NO job at all? Nobody seems to have an answer, but they have a lot of screaming protestations that changing diapers and planting kids in front of the TV for hours on end (while they text their girlfriends and download pirated music & movies) is more work than assembling complex machines on the production line.

    The “pay gap due to sexism” mythology continues its repetition because few ever question it. And those of us who do are cut out of the conversation because we dare to question the static, one-picture narrative put forward by a cult of self-pity which divested itself of credibility long ago.

    • There is NO wage gap as portrayed by certain sections of the media or special interest groups. It is media hype and misinformation. It is like painting an apple with orange paint and saying it is an orange. From a distance it seems right, but as soon as you get close and scratch the veneer, the truth is revealed. It has been debunked by such organizations Harvard University (the pay gap comes from the non linear relationship in rewarding extra hours at work, mostly men perform these extra hours), the National Bureau of Economic Research (where there is a gap it is due mostly to life choices), the Wall Street Journal (once education, marital status and occupations are considered, the gender way gap all but disappears), Forbes (it’s time that we end the equal pay myth). As well, there have been countless articles in well respected newspapers and magazines that have debunked the “wage gap”.
      The so called wage gap, is a comparison of AVERAGES – comparing the earnings of full-time working women with full-time working men (NOT their wages) – that does not take into account or control for any of the important factors that go into determining one’s salary such as:
      • time spent in the office or on the job each day (on the days they worked, employed men worked 53 minutes more than employed women),
      • education,
      • profession and title
      • time spent in the workforce,
      • nature of the job (dangerous jobs pay more, men work these and are 94% of workplace deaths),
      • years of job experience,
      • or personal choices that people make about their careers.
      I have worked in Information Technology for a number of decades and salaries were always based, as it should be, on job position, education and job experience, NEVER on gender.
      The belief in the “wage gap” as stated by certain sections of the media or feminists is based on ideology, and not on fact.

      • nicky says

        Indeed, if a business could get away with paying 25% less for the same work, there would be only female employees. Who would be so idiotic to employ a male at 25% extra?

    • Andreas says

      Spot on.
      I would mention that compensating for unbalanced hiring practices by hiring women and minorities only is justice but more like retribution.
      I had wanted to be a Park or Forest Ranger my entire life, but when I went to career advisors at my college in 1990, I was told I had a 0% chance of being placed in that field after graduation because of being white and male.

    • Steve this is some of the best writing I’ve seen in this topic in a long time. Well done.

      No one is complaining about the gender spending gap in which women spend far more than men. All that extra spending is money earned by men and handed to them.

      Or the workplace injury and death gap.
      Or the military injury and death gap.
      How about the life expectancy gap?

    • PurpleTantrum says

      You’re comparing feminists to klansmen and pedophiles? That sounds just like the outrage and histrionics that you complained about. You’ve gone on and on about how you believe that men do more important jobs, higher skilled jobs, are somehow less subject to their emotionality weighing them down. But that isnt even where the wage gap is an issue, nevermind is it colored with your delusions of male supremacy. We are talking about there being inequality where a man and woman are hired for the SAME position. Where they have the SAME experience and the SAME education. We are talking about equal capability and eual qualification and equal performance. Business is a profession where the discrepancy is huge.

      If women are getting more public assistance, it is because women are the majority of those raising children. It isnt that men are excluded from these services, or that they would somehow do a better job of being a single parent. Men simply are not the majority of single parents. 40% of fathers have little to nothing to do with their own kids. This is an area that needs to change, and not just because women now have to work too, and men should therefore take on some domestic responsibility. It is also because fathers have been trivialized and not valued for their role. Science now tells us that there are parts of a child’s development that come soley from the father’s role. When you factor that in with a 40% absence rate, it gives some insight into why so many youth are immature, poorly equipted, and turning to gangs. Fathers need to step up and women need to stop deciding that their kids’ father isnt absolutely necessary in their kids’ lives.

    • Sarah R says

      I can think of one example where having female genitals encourages you higher pay from day one: Sex work. On the other hand, that is only as a performer. Most of the owners of porn mags, porn websites, film production companies, strip clubs, and everything else… are male.

  3. Your professors will destroy a career or ruin a reputation for ideological heresy Toni. They’re not good people. They preach hate.

  4. Ardy says

    Thanks Toni, I never understood what the hell was going on with feminism as it was lost in a fog of words like ‘social constructionism’, statements like this always strike me as arcane..

  5. bob klinck says

    This is just a variant on class war and Marxist dialectics.

    • It is the very opposite of the dialectical method and of the class struggle. Feminism and race politics seek precisely to suppress genuine socialism.

  6. So basically you learned how to be a victim and blame men for your mistakes? Looks like you went through a nice brainwashing

  7. Whiskyjack says

    I made the mistake of taking a gender studies course once. In an essay, I challenged Judith Butler’s thesis that all gender expression is performative. I suggested that just as there are strong differences in behaviour between the sexes in many other mammals, including other primates, the differences in behaviour between the sexes in humans might also have a biological basis. Bad mistake. I learned that one does not bring biology to an ideology fight.

    • cbpelto says

      RE: What to Bring to an Ideological Fight

      You can bring whatever you want to such a fight. But don’t expect honesty from the ideologues. Especially the acadamian nut types.

      Fanatic, n., One who cannot change their mind and won’t change the subject.

    • Feminism is anti-intellectual.

      As you note examination of other species yields useful results on behavioural sexual dimorphism.

      In addition research on humans has shown differences in behaviour of male and female infants that are less than one day old – far too young for them to have been socialised in any way. At that age boys were found to focus more on objects and girls to focus more on human faces.

      • Whiskyjack says

        That was the point of my essay. In addition to being anti-intellectual, that particular stance of feminism entails a metaphysical presupposition: a Cartesian dualism of complete independence of mind and body. I had also argued that dosing a woman with male hormones would result in behavioural changes, as would dosing a man with female hormones. It didn’t matter. The essay was trashed because it challenged feminist doctrine.

  8. Pingback: The Inside Scoop on Women’s Studies – The Home for Wayward Statisticians

  9. Women’s and gender studies is a useless degree. No one wants to hire a person whose mind has been turned into a angry advocate of bullshit sciences.

    • Terry Breen says

      Actually, there is a desperate shortage of Political Correctness Enforcement Officers in most large corporation’s HR departments, as well as in govt. To be an effective PCEO, one must be hypersensitive about all issues concerning gender, transgenders, and race. Gender Studies grads have the training to walk right into the job and start working without a lot of remedial course work.

  10. Bitfu says

    The only choice is to push the boundaries to the point where the notion of boundary becomes meaningless. Take feminism (or any other _ism for that matter) and push it to the point where other feminists actually want to reign you in. If this should happen…if they try to reign you in…just wink at them, like its some kind of inside joke. And then, you just forge ahead with more impunity.


    *Refuse to shower. If queried on the matter, simply respond, “Isn’t it obvious.”

    *When they talk about oppression in class, begin to cry. Just sob, hopefully uncontrollably. And do this every time. Develop absolutely no immunity to this issue.

    *Put ‘post trimester abortions’ on the table. Declare that a woman should have the right to choose up until the time that the umbilical cord is cut. Advocate criminal sentences for doctors that refuse. Then–and this important– query the class with the following: “How should they terminate that fetus thing? Should the snap its neck like a chicken? How about simple strangulation?” And really get into it, Toni, like it’s a fun brain-storming session. “Oh wait! I know: Wire cutters to the neck!”. .

    *Each day pull obsess over the Twitter feeds Amy Schumer, and Lena Dunham. Always make sure to put “Doctor” before their surnames. “Dr. Schumer was raped 12 times during her sophomore year in college.”

    *Make insane proclamations like, “I think Bruce Jenner has ‘C*nt Envy’. Discuss.”

    *Start chewing tobacco in class. Why? Just cuz.

    *Openly refer to any guy that you’re seeing as, “Me and the dildo that’s f*cking me now”

    *Hijack the class with meaningless metaphysical loops that are stuck on the vague predicates of transitioning transvestites. Instead of ‘when does a heap become a mound?;,.ask, “When does a transitioning man become a woman? Only, never let it go. Keep-coming-back–as if its the most pressing philosophical question of the 21st century.

    • This last strategy can be endlessly perpetuated with two tactics: “But where do you draw the line???”, and “But who gets to decide *that*??” There is no answer to either question, and so can de deployed repeatedly.

    • Saul Sorrell-Till says

      This made me laugh a great deal. I almost want to sign up for one of these hideous courses just to push your fabulous agenda.

  11. malcolm says

    The patriarchy theory – a theory invented by women about the lives of men which concludes that men are unqualified to judge women’s lives because they lack the “lived experience” to be able to do so.

  12. Your professors are not “bad” people? That is a philosophical question. Are you paying for a product, knowledge of all issues relating to being a human female as opposed to male, and are they giving you what you are paying for? Or are they offering you a pile of false claims in exchange for your money? What do you perceive to be the difference between these Women’s Studies classes and what a snake oil salesman did at the turn of the last century? What is the difference between their actions and the actions of people selling new age “cures” for cancer today? Can we really distinguish between the liar and the self-deceiver who believes their own lies? In the context of a university education, should we try?

    Human evolution is a fact, and the views of your Women’s Studies professors require this claim to be false, no less than the claims of any young-Earth Creationists require the same. Would you be okay with university classes, young students paying many thousands of dollars to take them and being given credentials in the form of degrees in return for mastery of the contents, where they were taught that the world was 6,000 years old and that the Dinosaurs died in Noah’s flood?

    Women’s Studies as currently constituted has no more business being offered for university credit than Creationist Science would. Whether or not your professors were personable and people you perceived as not “bad” people is immaterial. We cannot hope to distinguish the “not bad” people peddling false claims from the psychopathic liars doing the same without conscience. You should demand your money back, they have not provided the education you paid for unless this is an elaborate ruse to make you “learn how to think,” in which case it seems to have worked well for you.

  13. Valerie says

    I think gender stuides is not a useless degree because it cuts across all social ills and expose all hidden toments that the society inflict on women. A women is the backbone of continuity and you will all bear with me that women are been violated as well as not given equal opportunity as men. Lets be realistic. Gender equality is not about been equal with men but have equal access, oppurtunties….. To name but few. Gone are those day when women were relegated at the back. Thank GOD for the feminist who came out in their numbers to define thoeries and liberate women from thier bondage. We can now speak and also vote as well as occupy decision making positions.

    • Perhaps it is my subpar male brain failing me, but I have no idea what your point is. Obviously equal access does not equate to equal outcomes. Today’s feminist seemingly think the above is absolutely true. It isn’t nor is it sexist to state so. I am 47. I have never known a day where equal access did not exist. My daughter has been raised to not only believe but to know she can do most anything a man can. She also knows there are limitations to this. She realizes that where known unequal outcomes exists there need not be equal access. An example, US Special Operations (I served for 12 years as part of this group) or the Marine Corp Infantry Officer School. The outcomes are so extreme in there difference that there does not need to be equal access. This is not sexism or oppression, it is accepting reality, end of story.

    • Days of Broken Arrows says

      I agree 100 percent about equal access and opportunities. This is already the law, though. And it’s not what’s being taught in these classes, as the writer of this piece shows. Also, the feminists who changed society weren’t really the ones who “defined theories,” but the ones who changed laws. The “theory” crowd came about in the ’70s and ’80s, and their theories are just that: Theories, with little more no basis in scientific fact. Sort of like religion, in fact.

  14. Imagine a gender studies course that isn’t run by these intellectually dishonest professors? One where someone like Christina Hoff Sommers was included in requires reading, one that looked at the was culture AND biology affected how current gender roles are evolving. One that looked at male privileges AND female privileges. One that wasn’t filled with victimhood culture and faux outrage, but simply interested in gender as a phenomena a little more fairly… I’d take that course just out of sheer intellectual joy, regardless of the job opportunities after it.

    Pity the academic establishment has ruined what could be a really fascinating and vibrant course of study in the humanities.

  15. Quote: “Don’t get me wrong; I’m not suggesting that my professors are bad people.”

    You might say the same about Marxist theorists, but when communism began to murder millions those theorists, standingon the sidelines, pured with content. Evil is what evil does.

    Also keep mind that much of their efforts directed at the larger are intended to condition people to believe lies. Unborn babies aren’t babies. XY chromosones don’t make you male. Whether something is rape or not depends on who is doing it. A stolen kiss by a college frat guy is rape. Nothing Bill Clinton does is rape. Defending rapist is a great evil, except of oourse if you’re Hillary. The list of lies goes on and on.

    No, Toni, this are bad people. Very, very bad people. And their lies aren’t even their greatest evil.

    –Michael W. Perry, co-author of Lily’s Ride: Rescuing her Father from the Ku Klux Klan

  16. Col. Harrumph says

    What’s the difference between your professors, Toni, and the Westboro Baptist God-hates-fags robots? As I see it, the only difference is whom they hate. Other than that, no difference.

    • patriarchal landmine says

      WBC is marginalized and roundly mocked in mainstream society.

      kinda like MRAs.

      that’s not just a difference, that is the most important one.

      • Rick says

        MRA’s are only mocked by people delusioned by the feminist agenda and ignorant of rights that men actually are denied in favor of women.

  17. cptcrash says

    After reading your article, I have to ask, what are you going to do with this degree? Other than teaching, what company would willingly hire someone like you with your background?

  18. Toni,

    Get over your niceness. Your professors ARE bad people. Repudiate them harder, and hold them to account for their role in malforming minds and destroying intellect.

  19. JohnTyler says

    You have to be a total moron, an idiot, incredibly stupid to think for one second, that women’s studies (or black studies, LGBT studies, marxism studies, fat people studies, or any other form of “hate” studies, etc. ), will teach you anything other than how to hate others and how to find myriad excuses why you should be a frustrated, angry, total failure; a loser.

    These areas of “studies” are taught by and promoted by losers who hate everything about themselves and find everything about themselves repulsive. This is why they are repulsive, frustrated, self hating losers and bigots.

    They need others to feel like they do; after all, misery loves company and the only way they tolerate their miserable existence is to commiserate with like thinking losers and self hating morons.

    The KKK, communists and neo-Nazis are the most notorious of the self hating “clubs” formed by losers and outcasts. These groups, like all of their ilk, blame everybody else for their own miserable existence. And yes, their leaders are charismatic personality types (e.g., Jim Jones, Hitler, Lenin, Castro, David Duke, etc.), who use their natural “talents” to promote their own power or wealth.

    The latest fad going is the “my fat body is beautiful” fad promulgated by obese females who hate they way they look and feel. Incredibly as it seems, they spend all their time bitching about how they are negatively perceived by others in lieu of educating themselves about how to achieve a healthy lifestyle (and yes, it is HARD WORK to get fit; no doubt about it). They probably have meetings of fat groups to bitch about societal injustices while stuffing their faces with pop, chips, cookies and other crap and wonder how it is they look like giant bowling balls with legs and arms.

    Lastly, the “professors” that teach and promote these “hate” studies are teaching this garbage because they are otherwise useless to society. Only in an academic setting – an elitist, self-contained, totally fictional, artificial universe run by tenured, arrogant “intellectuals” – can these losers find a way to make a living.

    Unfortunately, they are able to find way, way to many young, ignorant, angry, frustrated, self hating young people to pay good money (or more likely, their parent’s money ) to “learn” the crap these professors spew from their anal orifices.

    Yep, life is not fair folks; get real. To a very great extent it is your attitude and motivation that will determine your success or failure in life. If you find ways that “prove” your failures are always the fault of others, you will always be a failure.

    Tell that to all the immigrants here in the USA or other non-Caucasian ethnic groups here that have somehow “made” it; Chinese, Japanese, Indian, Korean, Vietnamese, black African, etc.

    • santoculto says

      But… but…

      this people tend to score higher in ”iq tests”,

      is not ”intelligence”**

      maybe the troglodytes of engineering (retaardetz in different way) or the proto-psychopaths of some ”ethical” scientific area can explain for us why

      iq is not NECESSARILY intelligence, i mean, perfect mirror of the intelligence, 😉

      we live in Lagado respublikkka


  20. Piltdown Ghost says

    It was Feminists who, in the name of Social Justice, demanded the castration without trial of the innocent Duke Lacrosse Three. How can these Stalinist monsters possibly be anything but “bad people”? They are a cult who have hijacked entire departments of academia to advance their twisted beliefs and used their positions of power to ruthlessly punish the innocent for the crime of being born the wrong sex.

    -Manju Rajendran, leader, “Potbanger” lynch mob

    “Thank you for not waiting.”
    -Group of 88, What Does a Social Disaster Sound LIke?, endorsing the actions of the Potbangers

    The “intellectual foundation” for this horror is exactly as you describe, and there is a short, succinct label to put to that foundation: not patriarchy, which is an excuse, but “blood libel”. By falsely accusing a scapegoat of terrible crimes one may justify all manner of atrocities in phony self-defense. The real oppressor becomes the perceived victim thanks to the power of the blood libel. Social Justice is the institutionalization of this concept on an industrial scale — and that’s what makes it so dangerous. Every man is guilty, and what does Social Justice do to the guilty? Ask Manju Rajendran and the Group of 88 …

  21. patriarchal landmine says

    and of course, because you are female, you are free to imply that men are just naturally more violent.

    gee, why would anyone hate or mistrust women, when even anti feminists are spreading lies about men?

    • You’re free to imply it, too, Landmine. The hypothesis is pretty good. And it doesn’t mean that women are angels.

  22. Joe Triscari says

    There is an old joke usually directed at philosophy department but it works much better for the various “studies” departments.

    The Dean of a college gathers the chairs of the physics, chemistry and biology departments into his office.

    “Why,” he asks, “do your departments need so much money for equipment and so much space for labs? Why can’t you be more like the math department? All they need is pencils, paper and garbage cans.

    “Or better yet the women’s studies department? All the need is pencils and paper.”

  23. “It’s no coincidence that many of my former professors had academic backgrounds in Marxism. In fact, it makes sense now, since redistribution of privilege (and not just capital) is an imperative for a utopian post-oppression society.”

    The chances are good that none of your professors had a background in Marxism, because little of what you have described bears the faintest resemblance to Marxism. Generally speaking, Marxism has been banished from the universities and replaced with varieties of the Frankfurt School, post-structuralism, postmodernism and general rooting for the politics or race and gender known as identify politics.

    The reason for this are complex — but lie in the development of the class struggle itself over the last half century, beginning in the (physical and theoretical) suppression of genuine Marxism by Stalinism in the 1930s, the Cold War, the impact of the post-war boom and particularly that abhorrence that many leftist intellectuals felt at an actual workers’ uprising in France in May-June 1968.

    Marxism, that is to say Trotskyism, does not seek to distribute privilege. That is the angle of the upper middle class (the 9 percent of the population below the richest 1 percent). Nor is it a utopian outlook. The need to replace the billionaires with a working-class democracy, to socialized their is an urgent task of the day. If nothing else, the American elections tell us that.

    Its not your fault that you have been exposed to this noxious brew at Barnard, and you know I respect that stand you have taken, but please, it is time to decouple Marxism from feminism. Marxism is about uniting the working class of all nationalities, races, genders, on a global scale, and, first and foremost, fight the war preparations of the elites.

    • Not convinced, Sandy. Stalinism is supposed to be a corrupted form of Marxism? It’s simply the transitional phase gone awry. It’s eminently likely to go awry, but that’s a problem of Marxism itself. (Why the hell can’t there be an orderly violent uprising?) And the women who defy feminist dogma are about as annoying to feminists as peasants are to workers.

  24. Bonnie says

    I don’t understand why you’re complaining about being taught fundamental feminist theory in classes about feminist theory? If you aren’t interested in the content, don’t take the course – also you clearly don’t understand the content, because intersectional oppression isn’t about looking for oppression – it’s about recognising that all people have different experiences, and that the possession of characteristics (gender, race, levels of ability, class etc.) that society values and devalues impact your experience in the world and the way that you are treated by institutions, the media, and individual people. The facts are: brains literally grow in the ways that they are used – no one is denying that hormones can affect behaviour (however, do they really excuse behaviour?), but to ignore that brains respond to their training, and that little girls and little boys are treated differently by adults and therefore their brains are trained differently, is to ignore biology (or rather, to only use biological facts that appeal to your ideology).

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  26. RichardP says

    @Bonnie: “brains literally grow in the ways that they are used …”.

    No. Over tens of thousands of years experience, it became obvious to mankind how brains grow. That is the biological difference. Then follows the socialization. “Since brains grow this way, its best we prepare them for the tasks that lie in that direction.” Therefore, the true statement is as follows:

    “Brains are used in the way that they grow”. Until recently. And what a mess that “recently” stuff has produced.

    In other words, testosterone is not a social construct. And neither are the behaviors caused by the presence or absence of testosterone a social construct. If you doubt, you should do some experiments. Or at least pay attention to the ones who have already done such experiments. Why is it frowned on to consider that biology is destiny? If we have evidence that most women, post wall, are going to cry themselves to sleep every night over babies they never had, what is wrong with pointing them in a baby birthing direction early on? And if they are going to have babies, who is going to handle the garbage trucks and the coal mining while they are rearing children? Doesn’t it makes sense to steer those with strength and no babies in their bellies into those directions?

    Social conditioning is what allows society to function. Social conditioning uses brains in ways that thousands of years of evidence show us that they are going to grow. “Thousands of years of data give us a pretty good idea of what you and your brain are going to be like when you reach the age of 27. So here is how we are going to “condition” you to be the best you that you can be by the time you reach 27.” That is an efficient way to think, from a social standpoint.

    And we do need a social standpoint – defined, defended, and enforced. Otherwise, we will all turn into Chicago. Women cannot be the ones who do the defining, defending, and enforcing of that standpoint – because men will just laugh at the women and ignore them and do what they want. So the women will turn to other men to force the rebellious men to comply. And patriarchy will be born anew, just as it always has been. Because of biology (biology makes women weaker then men, on the whole).

    And now you have the rest of the story.

  27. Women’s Studies departments should be dumped. They failed to do one of their basic tasks: warn women about dangerous men. The men in question are the immigrants from the Middle East that our leaders insist need to be brought here. Women’s Studies faculty members should have been the first ones issuing warnings that there would be problems, but they were silent. Those of us who did warn about the potential problem were told that we were racist. Even after the problems emerged, first at Cologne on New Year’s Eve and then in other places, we were called racist. Yes, we’ve been called racist even though we were right. In addition, the media and the authorities covered up the problem and only acknowledged it after many victims complained on social media.

    Women’s Studies is now part of the Establishment that tried to cover up the truth.

  28. Piltdown Ghost says

    “If you aren’t interested in the content, don’t take the course …”

    If only it were so easy to avoid the Feminist police state.

    “You may not be interested in war, but war is very interested in you.”
    -Leon Trotsky (disputed)

    Ask the Duke Lacrosse Three if they could avoid Feminist oppression simply by not taking their classes.

    -Manju Rajendran, leader, Potbanger lynch mob

    “Thank you for not waiting.”
    -The Group of 88, What Does a Social Disaster Sound Like?, endorsing the castration without trial of the innocent Duke Lacrosse Three

    “Intersectional oppression” is about finding new blood libels to justify the monstrosities committed in the name of Social Justice. Hearing the horrifying truth for herself has led the columnist to a deeper understanding of Feminists as a hate group. She received a real education; the last thing anyone should wish is that she remain unenlightened. If more people like her could see the truth about Social Justice by being exposed to its hatefulness Feminist Studies courses would actually manage to do some good.

  29. Days of Broken Arrows says

    Well-written piece. I’m a man and I had a similar awakening after learning similar ideas in college.

  30. “It was as if my veil of ignorance had been yanked away, and I was blissfully seeing the world for what it really was.”

    Yeah, now you’ve annoyed Rawls.

    “I have taken seven women’s studies classes; initially at a nondescript state university and later at a women’s college in Manhattan. After taking those classes, I realize that not only was I deluded, but I was led into an absurd intellectual alcove where objective truth is subordinate to academic theories used as political propaganda.”

    Alright, Plato’s alcove.

  31. It’s worth pointing out that “social constructivism” has its roots also in leftist and Marxist ideology. They’re not completely wrong, but then again, a half-truth is much more dangerous than a lie. The ideological roots of feminism are interesting indeed. And we also have the post-modernists to thank for allowing this tripe to run as rampant as it has.

    As Christina Hoff Sommers has pointed out, academic feminism with all its biases and untested hypotheses have run rampant precisely because the usual checks and balances that exist in academia were, for some reason, not allowed to be applied to women’s studies. I guess when you scream “SEXIST!” in the face of everybody for long enough, it gets to the point that questioning a woman’s, especially a feminist’s, point of view, is borderline criminal.

    What scares me the most is that this pattern of leftist, Marxist collectivism happened in other countries as well… right before they had a Communist meltdown which killed millions and saw the actual academics and successful businessmen thrown in jail, tortured, and murdered for wrongthink. Opponents of feminism are not kidding when they call it Orwellian.

  32. Feminism is industrialised gold digging. Feminists want power and money, white men have it.

  33. I recently read a line in a feminist article on biology that said something along the lines of “biology can be just as liberating as it can be condemning”. Something like that. Talking about how, basically, in many feminists circles or in many such discussions biology is a subject to be avoided. Which is stupid when you’re talking about sex differences. But at the same time, there is a lot of taken-for-grantedness when it comes to ideas about biology and it’s gender correlate. Confirmation bias has and does occur in many such studies on primates and the like (the “baboonization of early human life” was one such example given in this article), which is something to consider. There is also the question of how exactly it makes sense to study, again, baboons for example, and their social life as a comparison to our own. We must also consider what questions researches have when they go into the study, or more importantly perhaps, what answers they are trying to get. There are also very interesting studies, such as that of birds and “infidelity”, that make our model/symbolism with regards to monogamy based on birds seem a bit funny. There are also cruel studies done on primates that demonstrate that the primate in question did not possess any maternal instinct; the primate females, which grew up in virtual isolation, would appear to not have any knowledge or inclination to motherhood in the absence of social conditioning/an opportunity to observe mothering… Basically we would all do well to avoid ANY sort of deterministic thought and allow space for the contemplation of the implications of both biology and culture in gender, social life as we know it, and our development as a species. We are not hardwired to act in a socially acceptable, or prevalent manner. That statement in itself should be fuel enough to prompt you with some good quality questions.

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  35. Social construction is a testable implication of evolutionary game theory. Getting there, however, requires thought, and it requires the student to consider her priors carefully.

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  45. Diane Kerrison says

    Biology is destiny fails to understand that interactions between baby’s and their caregivers effecr this has on development begins immediately upon birth, if not before. The plasticity of the brain has shown this to be true. Most ideas on gender are socially constructed and if you don’t believe it, do some observations of the way boys and girls are treated differently as soon as they can focus.
    There is also an assumption that anything with a marxist bias is inherently evil. Perhaps these commenters could examine their own deterministic, materialist, male-dominated, capitalist bias before arguing a case for the purity of hard science, which itself has been proven to not be as absolute as once thought. Scientists once believed the earth to be flat, and they were probably all male.

  46. ClintAaron says

    The author here seems to have not paid much attention in women’s studies classes because she creates a kind of cartoon of what they’re like–a straw man that she can easily knock down, especially when she gives little of the arguments supporting their positions. She gives the basic ideas they touch on with none of the justification for their positions that would normally be required when fairly characterizing the other side. That would make her job harder because then she would have to give her own evidence to support her position that the “silly” material covered in women’s studies classes has no connection to reality. Thus, her article serves as red meat thrown to those who already agree with her.

    The reason women’s studies courses exist is because women’s voices were extinguished from the historical record–from history, from literature, from science. Women made significant contributions in these fields, but a patriarchal system that forced them in roles as wives and mothers and that viewed women’s accomplishments as less significant than men’s left those women out. To ensure that that doesn’t happen again by discussing the problem in the first place, how it occurred, and how it might be rectified, and to right the wrong of eliminating women from history, women’s studies courses were formed.

    You claim that they appear to not correlate to “the real world.”

    If you are going to take the position that women’s studies classes are wrong-headed , you will have to actually give evidence that the sorts of problems that stem from a patriarchal system don’t exist.

    Good luck to you on that.

    Real world examples supporting the idea that there is a patriarchal system are everywhere.

    The US military’s system of dealing with the rising problem of sexual assault, a system that silences, blames, and/or punishes the victim is an example of a patriarchal system. The dynamic that occurs when victims of rape reveal that their rapists were locally popular sports figures and the community turns against the victim of rape, turning to death threats, etc., to protect their sports hero–that’s an example of a patriarchal system. The fact that judges will ignore the plight of the female rape victim and instead rule based on their concern for the future of the male assailant is a sign of a patriarchal system. The fact that the public would not accept a single accuser of Bill Cosby, would not accept 10 accusers of Bill Cosby, would not accept 20 accusers of Bill Cosby, but that so many women had to come out that the problem was undeniable generally demonstrates a lack of trust in the women involved, which hints at a patriarchal system.

    Studies have been done on representation in the media–how different groups are represented. According to those studies, women and women’s stories are marginalized. Generally about three out of four characters on TV are men despite the fact that women are more than half the population. When women are shown predominantly as victims, heavy watchers of TV will be less likely to vote for women. Women candidates are subjected to criteria their male counterparts are not–how they dress, how they do their hair, the quality of their voice–superficial appearance based scrutiny that is rarely used when describing male candidates.

    Those who have commented here or who make arguments against women’s inequality to cite statistics about pay feel that if women receive slightly less than men rather than a lot less than men, then the problem is all better. Solved!

    These are not instances I have made up. These are examples from real life.

    According to statistics from the National Sexual Violence Resource Center, one out of every five women is raped in the US. One in four girls will be sexually abused before she turns 18. Nine out of every ten victims of sexual assault are female. That is part of rape culture.

    When women came out during the “gamergate” controversy to voice their opposition to stereotypical or negative portrayals of women, they were subjected to numerous death threats and threats of rape. That is part of rape culture. This is not an uncommon phenomenon. Women writing about issues pertaining to feminism or women’s rights often receive threats of rape or death. That is part of rape culture.

    I get what Quillette is attempting to do. It’s anti-academic, anti-intellectual intellectualism masquerading as “bold voices speaking out.” Populated by writers–probably conservatives or individuals with conservative leanings–who had a hard time at college because their views were not readily greeted with enthusiasm or those who plod through the Internet bothered by other groups attempting to have a voice or to confront what they see as intolerance, Quillette seeks to join with the less articulate troglodytes of gamergate and the alt-right to smear ideas about diversity, etc., but to do so in a way that appears more intelligent. The style and arguments are more sophisticated (except in this article), but the content is the same.

    The enemy is the imagined destructive force represented by “evil college.” Those elitists at “evil college” are spreading their liberal evil, brainwashing young minds into arguing for evil things, making people who create polysyllabic arguments for discriminating against Muslims feel bad about themselves, shaming those who craft articulate defenses for ignoring inequalities that still exist based on race, sex, etc. If only we can wake people up to the problems of “evil college,” we could dispense with public policies designed to help people or end debates about oppression, not because such debates are wrong, but just because we’ve made up our minds that we’re tired of hearing those debates, we don’t experience the oppression ourselves, and so we want them over. So we will end them with a website that promotes free speech.

    To pull off the hat trick of appearing academic while decrying the sins of academia, you will have to try harder than this article does.

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