Women’s and gender studies is a worthwhile discipline

Sunday, November 11, 2007 | 10:00 a.m. CST; updated 5:51 a.m. CDT, Tuesday, July 22, 2008

I want to take this opportunity to correct mistakes in John Merrill’s Nov. 3 column in which he reveals little knowledge about the discipline of women’s and gender studies.

The discipline is not a newcomer in higher education. Its first program was founded in 1970, and now undergraduate and graduate programs and departments have developed in every state at every level of higher education, from community colleges to major research universities. Students now receive doctorates in women’s studies. Virtually all university presses have special lists in women’s and gender studies. Establishing a department at MU reflects the development of the field and its strong institutional status in major universities across the country.

What questions does the discipline undertake? While there is nothing monolithic or uniform about the answers or approaches, the approaches do share a focus on discerning how structures of gender (i.e. identity, allocation of resources, economic and social rights and representations) are developed and challenged. While scholars in many departments undertake this study, the new department at MU reflects the strong disciplinary core that has developed over the past three decades.

The new department welcomes anyone who wants to participate in this field of study. It compares in many ways to the last “new department” established in MU’s College of Arts and Science about 30 years ago. Religious studies as a field was established when the study of religion became based in interdisciplinary research about religious groups and movements rather than being located in faith traditions. Just as the students and faculty in the religious studies department feel it is important to understand religion in today’s world, quite apart from their own affiliation, students and faculty in women’s and gender studies feel that it is important to understand the institution of gender, regardless of one’s body or gender identity.

Mr. Merrill says that the department faculty has “big plans” for the future. These are not plans — they are already underway, and much of the research has been supported by national research foundations, including Rockefeller, Ford, Macarthur, and the National Science Foundation. Research includes projects on: Hurricane Katrina and the consequences for women, the role of churches in preventing domestic violence, the status of sexual minorities in post-apartheid South Africa, United Nations outreach on human rights, the literary traditions of sexuality in developing capitalism, World Bank policy on economic development and its impact on women, political culture and gender in globalization, and the significance of AIDS in caring for children in effected households in South Africa. Moreover, the department was awarded a $500,000 grant from the National Science Foundation in 2007 to study the institutional practices that promote or hinder the advancement of women faculty in the science, technology, engineering and math fields.

Does the new department reflect a decentering of disciplinary and canonical institutions at the university? I hope so. For many of us, the university is precisely the place where students should be exposed to diverging methodologies, competing intellectual traditions and multiple “canons.”

Jacquelyn Litt can be reached at

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Kevin Gamble November 15, 2007 | 4:11 p.m.

Considering the multiple-century history of higher education in this country, a discipline introduced in 1970 is perfectly appropriately referred to as a "newcomer".

Limiting this response to correction of actual mistakes--as referenced in the opening--instead of simple contradiction would make it more effective and seem less like a personal attack. It would also do the discipline in question, which deserves great esteem, better justice.

(Report Comment)
jam bilal July 19, 2009 | 6:00 p.m.

i am a tutor of woman and gender studies. i want to know how can i download books on gneder in free.i will be thank full for your kind respons.


(Report Comment)
Ray Shapiro July 19, 2009 | 7:24 p.m.

When will there be a Men's and Gender Studies Department worthy of great esteem and new found justice?

("Feminism’s denial of gender-based roles tramples essential distinctions in Christian doctrine pertaining to the home and the church. Its socialistic view of equality is incompatible with religious freedom.
Scriptures teach that men and women have different roles without being fundamentally unequal. Their well-defined roles must be maintained for the orderly function of society and the training of children.
God made us male and female. He established the boundaries in which we must serve and work. To disregard these differences is to bring the disintegration of society. Rape, promiscuity, homosexuality, divorce, abortion, delinquent children, and child abuse did not result from men and women fulfilling their divinely-appointed roles. They are largely the result of ignoring them.")
Source and more:
Pack of Lies
Male and Female Roles Are Interchangeable
By Lindell Mitchell

(Report Comment)
John Schultz July 19, 2009 | 7:40 p.m.

Maybe you could endow such a chair Ray?

(Report Comment)
Ray Shapiro July 19, 2009 | 9:09 p.m.

If I had the big bucks I would.
Would you be kind enough to talk to Gary Nolan about a possible fund raiser?
It seems to me that white, middle class men are becoming the new minority.
In fact, we might be the next endangered species.

(Report Comment)
John Schultz July 19, 2009 | 9:51 p.m.

You can ping Gary, his email address is on the Eagle's website. Myself, I would rather see the university do away with a lot of programs, especially those that are operating a large loss, one of the few things it seems I agree with Hank Waters about recently.

(Report Comment)
Ray Shapiro July 19, 2009 | 10:34 p.m.

Considering the amount of money brought in by MU football, there just might be an untapped market for Men's and Gender Studies.
I'll work up a proposal, speak to some folks I know over at MU and then attempt to get Gary and others on board.
It's about time that men stood up for their rights and demand to be treated decently by the feminist movement that has infiltrated the democratic party and are destroying the male ego in our public schools and in society at-large.
A curriculum at the college level may begin to address the destructive nature this feminist movement has brought upon our republic.
Perhaps I'll even be able to recruit some powerful, influential female sympathizers.

(Report Comment)
Tim Dance July 20, 2009 | 12:33 a.m.

No one really cares about a bunch of misogynous men who feel threatened about a discipline that explores history from a different angle. American History is essentially Men's and Gender studies. Reading your past posts, your disdain for feminism is probably rooted for your hatred towards gays and lesbians. What a sad man you are.

(Report Comment)
Ray Shapiro July 20, 2009 | 2:11 a.m.

@Tim Dance:
("American History is essentially Men's and Gender studies.")
I disagree. American History is that which historians document as recorded facts. Good teachers bring critical thinking, interpretation and different perspectives into the classroom. Dialog is key in understanding American History in a broader sense.
Perhaps it is the agenda of liberal progressives who wish to see American History through one filter.
Perhaps it is the agenda of liberal progressives to alter the future of gender roles, regardless of the consequences to society and traditional family values, morals and ethics.
Perhaps it is the agenda of the liberal progressives who wish to make us believe that all men and women are created equal, in a literal sense, and that this "equality" remains throughout our life time.
We are not all the same.
Some of us are smarter. Some of us are richer. Some of us are stronger. Some of us are more experienced. Some of us are wiser.
And when it comes to men and women, you can look to nature, science or God to understand that there are differences.
Feminism does little to cultivate the natural strengths and weaknesses imparted to men and women. We can see this in our public schools where "pseudo-government female teachers" attempt to sissify naturally aggressive young male students, instead of creatively channeling this energy towards learning experiences. Radical Feminism looks to manage the male as if he is some kind of enemy to their success, control and power.
No small why people self medicate with alcohol and substance abuse. No small wonder that people engage in short-term disposable relationships. No small wonder that men fall out of marriages or women have babies out of wedlock.
The "women's movement" has destroyed the very foundation of that which made family important. Distinct roles and responsibilities.
The "progressive movement" is to blame for many of the social, political and economic problems we have today.
"Women's Studies" has it's destructive part in this as well.
Liberal progressives, thanks for the massive confusion.

(Report Comment)
Charles Dudley Jr July 20, 2009 | 4:08 a.m.

As Michael Savage said "Liberalism is a Social Disease".

(Report Comment)
Matt Y July 20, 2009 | 9:33 a.m.

Correction: Michael Savage is a social disease

(Report Comment)
Charles Dudley Jr July 20, 2009 | 10:13 a.m.

No Matt Y he is just not afraid to speak up on the major issues bogging down this nation unlike the many panty waist journalists who are afraid to speak up.

If Michael Savage is so bad how come The Eagle 93.9 hosts his shows during the week and once on the weekend?

I do not always agree with everything he presents but at least he is not afraid to present it.

(Report Comment)
Tim Dance July 20, 2009 | 3:44 p.m.

<<< If Michael Savage is so bad how come The Eagle 93.9 hosts his shows during the week and once on the weekend?>>>

Because if enough whack jobs listen to him, he stays on the air. Has nothing to do with "being good". Apparently there is enough hatred out there to keep him well compensated.

(Report Comment)
Tim Dance July 20, 2009 | 3:55 p.m.

Wow Ray, straight from the stone age? Maybe women don't want their destinies determined for them because they possess a vagina. Only men who feel inadequate tend to oppose women's rights. Men, probably like yourself, who may be small of stature and resources and are looked upon the rest of society as a loser. The only way you can lash out is to align yourself with big powerful conservatives and live through them. Women, be who you want to be, not what small men what you to be.

(Report Comment)
Ray Shapiro July 20, 2009 | 4:45 p.m.

Your approach to personally attack the messenger is typical of liberals who can not debate a topic. If you don't agree with a person's opinion, you are quick to label them personally as "inadequate," "ignorant" or attempt character assassination.
There are many books written about the downside of political correctness, radical feminism and the "progressive movement."

Get back to me in 20 or 30 thirty years and we'll evaluate just how much more damage your feminist views, and other liberal progressive social engineering agenda items, put this country into.

Michael Savage happens to be wrong. Liberalism, in todays arena, is not a social disease. It is a perversion.
It's a perversion which is destroying this country on many different levels.

(Report Comment)
Charles Dudley Jr July 20, 2009 | 4:49 p.m.

>>> Michael Savage happens to be wrong. Liberalism, in today's arena, is not a social disease. It is a perversion.
It's a perversion which is destroying this country on many different levels. <<<

Exactly ray shapiro exactly and that his what his book on the subject presents too.

I bet Tim Dance is one who those who would rather have had Mr Rogers doing political commentary in this day and age if he was still around.

(Report Comment)
Tim Dance July 20, 2009 | 7:13 p.m.

If you are the messenger of Savage's hate speech and align yourself with his ilk, then you are a loser. Pure and simple. Ray, quit living through Savage. It's sad :(

(Report Comment)
Ray Shapiro July 20, 2009 | 9:15 p.m.

@Tim Dance:
Thanks for trying to define what I am through your own unsubstantiated assumptions and implications.
No one is that one dimensional.
(Except, perhaps, for those Michael Jackson fanatics.)

(Report Comment)

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