Canada’s Enemy: Women’s Studies?

by | January 30, 2010
filed under Can-Con, Feminism

The National Post has never been pro-feminist but recently it seems to have an increasingly ridiculous hate-on for Women’s Studies programs.

A couple weeks ago I mentioned how Post columnist Barbara Kay went on CBC Radio’s The Current to allege that Women’s Studies programs are merely a radical feminist recruiting ground to turn young women students into man-haters (for more on that, Amelia at GenderAcrossBorders has a nice analysis of Kay’s arguments).

The same week the National Post got involed in an editorial page debate with the Globe and Mail over targets for women political candidates.  Now while I’ve heard legitimate concerns with these types of targets in the past (namely there needs to be a concerted effort to make sure the women nominated are not all wealthy, white, and straight and to not exclude trans candidates or those who may not choose to identify as female or male), the Post’s analysis of women’s underrepresentation in politics is anything but well-reasoned:

“Only 22% of MPs are female — a figure that reflects a combination of female aversion to political life and a widespread voter preference for male politicians.

Trimble and Arscott’s research shows that voters do not significantly favour male politicians, rather that preference is based far more on affiliation with a political party. And while the aggressive culture of politics has been identified as a barrier in recruiting women candidates, doesn’t this indicate there’s a problem with the culture?

But this week the Post took their editorial page to new heights of anti-feminist ridiculousness with their hysterical fear-mongering against Women’s/Gender Studies, stating:

“The radical feminism behind these courses has done untold damage to families, our court systems, labour laws, constitutional freedoms and even the ordinary relations between men and women.”

Sorry, what?

First, it’s true that feminist groups and movements have influenced public policy in Canada, but if being a Women’s Studies graduate was enough to change the course of our justice system and constitutional freedoms, I would probably be doing something other than sitting at home worrying about these issues.

And what are these horrible changes that the big, scary feminist philosophers have wrought on Canadian society?

Apparently they include “mandatory, government-run kindergarten.”

Little Man-Haters in Training?

Yup, apparently the feminists want education to be run by the state because that way they can prevent patriarchal brainwashing. I guess the Post never considered public education might actually just be good policy.

Second, the editorial re-iterates Kay’s argument that Women’s Studies teaches women to hate men. I think it’s a pretty safe bet that no one on the Post’s Editorial Board has been through Women’s Studies.

In my experience there were more diverse theoretical perspectives presented in my Women’s Studies classes than my classes in most other disciplines. As Ann Braithwaite pointed out in her rebuttal to Kay, many fields promote an ideology – such as Commerce/Business tends to promote capitalism and Political Science tends to promote democracy as the best political system. But just like those disciplines endeavour to critique their ideological standpoints, so too do Women’s/Gender Studies programs encourage students to critically evaluate different forms and branches of feminist theory. It shows a shocking lack of understanding to say they’re a kind of cookie-cutter system for creating man-hating graduates.

In the end, I don’t get why the National Post has decided to ramp up their attacks on Women’s Studies, but I wish they’d stop because it’s a sad state of affairs when I’m forced to stand up for the Globe and Mail.

-Jarrah


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