Dads Against the Divorce Industry

DA*DI is devoted to reinstating the societal valuation of Marriage and the traditional, nuclear American Family, with particular emphasis on the essential role of FATHERS.

DA*DI offers contemporary reports and commentary on culture; its aberrations and its heroes.

The Cult of Women's Studies

by Barrett Kalellis
April 2, 1999

Twice a year, an alumni magazine is published by the University of Michigan’s College of Literature, Science, and the Arts, touting all the wonderful things going on at the university. The current issue has a story celebrating the 25th year of the school’s Women’s Studies Program.

Reading this article, you are left with the impression that the program has been an outstanding success, an indispensable boon to womankind. How inconceivable it must seem to have lived without it. Replete with laudatory quotes from administrators and students, it describes how the program began, how it uses an interdisciplinary approach (meaning that WS teachers come from other departments, like English, Law, Nursing, etc.), and how it affects people’s thinking about women’s issues. Between the lines, however, one senses an ulterior effort to gussy up WS as a legitimate academic endeavor.

But when the pretty words for alums are compared to the hard-fisted prose of actual Women’s Studies course descriptions (which can be found on the U-M Web site), quite a different picture begins to emerge. Written in the obscurantist, vacuous, and tone-deaf gobbledygook peculiar to the professoriat (“We will focus on shifts in the dialectical relation between constructedness and agency and consider whether contemporary criticism and theory manifest a return of the humanist subject.”), the course outlines try to provide intellectual heft to what is clearly a thinly disguised political agenda, using history as a cudgel.

Like a phonograph needle stuck in the record groove, shopworn leftist political cant repetitively permeates what purports to be serious academic inquiry. Phrases like: “an analysis of women’s oppression,” “how capitalism, racism, imperialism, and heterosexism affect women’s lives,” “the manifestation of gender, ethnic, race and class dynamics,” “feminist frameworks for thinking about gender and gendered bodies,” “political disenfranchisement,” and my personal favorite, a course that examines “intersectionality, essentialism, and critical race theory,” (whatever this means).

The posture of the socialist revolutionary is manifest in code language such as “current movements for change,” “individual and collective action,” “creative struggles to work out new possibilities for feminism,” “pressing challenges which the world’s women face,” “the role of the state,” and “feminist thought as the intellectual voice and vision (for) ending sexual inequality.” Bakunin and Trotsky could not have said it better.

Although the magazine boasts about the program engaging “a wide variety of material and viewpoints,” it is hard to understand how wide the variety can be when course descriptions begin thus: “With a focus on racial and gender categories...,” or “Assuming the feminist model...,” or “This course looks at the impoverishment of women and children in the United States.” Opening with these premises, you can speculate on just how far college students may be permitted to deviate from the teacher’s point of view and still earn high marks.

Perusing page after page of this stifling fustian, one sorely laments how politicized American universities have become, after the left has become so entrenched. At the University of Michigan, and I’m sure elsewhere, Women’s Studies resemble not so much a course of higher learning as it does a secular cult. Like the religious variety, young women are enticed into the program with wonderful promises of salvation and meaning: about understanding themselves, about finding their place in the world, about locating their spiritual and sexual centers.

But under the tutelage of feminist gurus with ideological axes to grind, they are suckled on the bitter fruit of propaganda masquerading as scholarship. Once weaned, they too often begin their lives with a lopsided view of society, a resentment of men, and an unhealthy reliance on political activism, government and the courts to remedy what they were told are grave social injustices.

To view the world through such a lens is as mischievous as peering at society through the binoculars of race or admiring one’s self in the mirror of sexual orientation. This focus ultimately leads to the herding of people into separate interest groups, gluttonous each and every one, sucking at the teats of a redistributionist sow government, legislatively jockeying for their own special favors at the expense of others.

That the University of Michigan -- through administrative inattention, laziness or mere trendiness -- has surrendered so many of its departments over to this pseudo-intellectual claptrap should be a cause for alarm -- not only for students, but also for taxpayers and alumni who in earlier years were actually able to get a good, well-rounded education in Ann Arbor.

# # #Barrett Kalellis writes frequent op-ed commentaries for The Detroit News and other publications.

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