This political season, the Democratic primary quickly turned into a lightning rod for discussing sexism, the “glass ceiling” and the good ol’ boys club. The usual suspects, Gloria Steinem, Geraldine Ferraro and Patricia Schroeder, were leading the way in making these claims. They were supported, however, by a vocal cadre of women from academia. The well-organized attacks launched by these professors caught many people off-guard because most people do not realize that this is exactly what these professors are trained to do—to lead social revolutions.
In the classic college environment, history professors are hired to research and teach students the history of a specific subject, such as a time period, country or war. Science professors are hired to research and teach students how things work in this world, such as what happens when you mix chemicals together. English professors are hired to teach students how to write effectively to convey a message.
What are women’s studies professors hired to do? According to the National Women’s Studies Association (NWSA) website, its mission is that it “…leads the field of women’s studies in educational and social transformation.” Women’s Studies professors are hired to work to remake society.
Over a thousand of these women met this past week in Cincinnati, Ohio for the National Women’s Studies Association (NWSA) Annual Conference. These women unabashedly pursue their radical feminist vision. In the opening letter, the president of the NWSA encourages attendees to read, “Welcome to Cincinnati: A Brief Feminist Guide for Conference Goers” by the head of the University of Cincinnati’s Department of Women’s Studies. Who knew you could take a feminist tour of Cincinnati?
These women’s studies professors gathered to learn how to become better activists, not better teachers. The Conference included panels to teach them how to use their position as professors to be agents of social change with such loaded discussion topics as, “Feminist Activism from the Inside Out: Connecting Campus to Community,” “’You Say You Want a Revolution?’: Paving New Paths in Feminist Mentorship” and last, but not at all least, “Drive a Mind Wild: How Feminist Pedagogy can Teach Resistance.”
These women do not use the term “feminism” in an all-encompassing pro-woman way, but rather co-opt the term to describe their specific radical feminist agenda. Their agenda is hostile towards conservative women and conservative ideas. One panel even claims that, “Conservative attacks on women’s rights under the auspices or with the blessing of the Bush administration are eroding women’s equal educational opportunity and reproductive rights.” Of course, the panel does not provide an opportunity for a conservative woman to share her view on these issues. Women’s studies departments are more concerned about transforming society than providing a fair debate.
Unlike conservative women, these radical feminists are obsessed with their perceived oppression and trumpet their victim status, no matter how much women achieve. The theme of the Conference was, “Resisting Hegemonies.” What are the “shegemonies” of which these women are so afraid? One is abstinence-only education. They held roundtable entitled, “Dismantling Hegemonic Abstinence-Only-Until Marriage Programs and Virginity Pledges,” to “expose the repressive, hegemonic myths underpinning abstinence-only-until marriage programs and virginity pledges and recommend several ways to challenge them.” Sex education is a hot button political issue. In a history class, professors might teach students the history of sex education in America, while in an English class, professors might use the issue to teach students how to write persuasively. In a women’s studies class, students are taught that there is only one right side of the issue and in turn, how to transform society so this view is forced on everyone.
Women’s studies departments function less as academic departments and more as political organizations. They are one of the few departments that take a purely political stance, representing radical feminists and rejecting conservative women. Conservatives have generally ignored or been ignored by these departments, leaving these departments without any potentially moderating opposition. Thus, they pursue a feminist agenda that becomes more and more extreme and political. While the outspoken attacks in the election show the departments are successfully organizing to promote “social transformation,” our taxpayer dollars at public universities should not be used to promote a purely political agenda in the guise of academia.