Top 10 Utterly Ridiculous Gender Studies Courses

Originally published on August 8, 2010 at David Horowitz’s NewsReal

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Imagine: you’re paying $30,000 a year to send your kid to college and she calls to tell you her class schedule. “Monday and Wednesday mornings I’m taking ‘The Phallus’ and Tuesday and Thursday I have ‘Rednecks, Queers, and Country Music.’”

“You’re taking the what?”

These course titles aren’t a joke.

Women’s studies has long been a field in which scholarship takes a backseat to leftist activism and radical feminist politics. Although the discipline has “evolved” to encompass gender and sexuality studies, campus programs remain ideologically sterile laboratories designed to indoctrinate students into the ins and outs of the live-action role playing game they call feminism.

Typically gender studies departments are nothing more than vocational training programs for progressive activists. The political litmus tests and radical feminist indoctrination administered by these programs are well documented in One-Party Classroom by David Horowitz and Jacob Laskin. When students sign up for classes like “Introduction to Women’s Studies” at Penn State, they may not realize they’re getting a “course in (rather than about) the ideology of radical feminism.”

But not all gender studies classes have such innocuous titles. Here are 10 hit-you-over-the-head ridiculous gender and women’s studies courses offered by American colleges and universities, starting with The Unbearable Whiteness of BarbieRead more

Feminist Indoctrination for 4th Graders

Bloggers and commenters in the “progressive” feminist blogosphere were almost giddy with excitement last week over a young woman’s proposal to bring feminism into the elementary school curriculum.  I’m all for making sure women’s historical contributions are well represented in school curricula, but controversial ideologies that promote far left ideas like “social justice” have no place in public schools.

Here’s what I wrote at NewsReal:

In 2009, Ileana Jiménez asked her class of high school juniors and seniors to write letters to President Obama about “the ways in which feminism might be addressed in the curriculum.”  Earlier this week she shared one letter on her blog, Feminist Teacher.

It is understandable that teachers cannot be expected to cram decades of struggles into 12 years of study. I just feel that there should be more time in the curriculum starting in the lower grades (if they can learn about the slave trade, they can learn about feminism) dedicated to learning about feminism and the goals behind it.

To do that, I propose that by fourth grade, students be exposed to basic feminist ideas.

Note that the student’s interest isn’t in ensuring that women’s experiences are adequately represented in history texts.  She’s proposing the indoctrination of nine-year-old children into a political movement.

She doesn’t define “basic feminist ideas,” but here’s a list of the top priorities of a representative feminist group, the National Organization for Women:

  1. abortion rights/reproductive issues
  2. violence against women
  3. constitutional equality
  4. promoting diversity/ending racism
  5. lesbian rights
  6. economic justice

How many of those “basic feminist ideas” would you teach to a fourth grader?

Visit NewsReal to read the rest of my thoughts on this kid’s letter.

GLSEN & the Normalization of Sexual Abuse

I’m generally skeptical regarding accounts of Big Gay nefariously imposing a radical homosexual agenda on Americans.  You don’t have to be Freud to analyze the hyperventilations of some conservatives about gay sex being “shoved down our throats.” It was with that in mind that I read Scott Baker’s shocking rundown of graphic and unhealthy sexual depictions in the youth reading materials recommended by the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN).

GLSEN’s bibliography of “pre-screened” titles for kids was compiled to further the organization’s “mission to ensure safe schools for all students.”  Books selected for inclusion were ostensibly “reviewed by GLSEN staff for quality and appropriateness of content.” The list was developed under the leadership of Kevin Jennings, the founder and longtime executive director of GLSEN who now serves as President Obama’s safe schools czar.

The recommendations for schoolchildren are divided into two categories, one for grades K-6 and another for 7-12.  Breitbart.tv’s Scott Baker and his team looked at a random sample of books in the latter category and found passages that went far beyond the promotion of LGBT tolerance:

What we discovered shocked us. We were flabbergasted. Rendered speechless.

We were unprepared for what we encountered. Book after book after book contained stories and anecdotes that weren’t merely X-rated and pornographic, but which featured explicit descriptions of sex acts between pre-schoolers; stories that seemed to promote and recommend child-adult sexual relationships; stories of public masturbation, anal sex in restrooms, affairs between students and teachers, five-year-olds playing sex games, semen flying through the air.

Many conservative bloggers following this story have likened books on the GLSEN list to child pornography.  While I think that’s a stretch, there’s no question that the excerpts and scans available at Gateway Pundit are stunningly explicit and inappropriate for many teens. Some passages glamorize promiscuity, unprotected sex, and sex between teens and adults as part of normal and expected gay behavior.  The excerpts are available here and here.

After reading through dozens of passages, I’m left with the impression that exploitation, abuse, promiscuity, and risk are being promoted as normal, acceptable, and even expected experiences for gay youth.  Too many of these vignettes read like validations of the stereotypical hypersexual gay lifestyle.  Instead of reading about the challenges of coming out, gay teens (and their heterosexual peers) are being handed a degenerate’s blueprint for how to live a “gay life,” starting with being initiated by a pedophile and working up to unhealthy hate sex and anonymous restroom encounters.

I realize many gay people (and many straight people) have had formative sexual experiences with much older people. But regardless of any fond memories, sex between adults and adolescents is exploitation, not love, and I fail to see how graphic portrayals of sexual abuse contribute to tolerance and school safety.

The passages from the GLSEN-recommended books give unfortunate credence to the sexually obsessed, debaucherous caricatures that often dominate mainstream depictions of gays.  Incidentally, these are the very same caricatures that prevent broader support for gay marriage and adoption.  But being gay doesn’t mean you’re sentenced to a lifetime of loveless rest stop sex with strangers.  It doesn’t mean you can’t have a lifelong partner, intimacy, a family, and even a white picket fence. In my experience, too many gay kids don’t realize that, and these books certainly aren’t helping.

Dan Blatt observes that gay fiction frequently leaves the same impression as the titles on the GLSEN list:

They all seemed to define their sexuality by its sexual expression.  Only a handful (notably the eloquent Jim Grimsley) wrote convincingly about non-sexual longing and emotional intimacy.  Most included gratuitous and graphic descriptions of sexual activity.

The notion that homosexuality doesn’t put intimacy and true partnership out of reach is exactly what gay kids need to see.  Instead they’re getting the glamorization of pedophilia.  Healthy, mature same-sex relationships don’t begin with memoirs about sleep away camp circle jerks and wistful reminiscing about experiences with child predators.  They just don’t.

I’m left wondering if GLSEN staffers recommended these titles to somehow rationalize unhealthy experiences in their own lives.

The excerpts from these books attempt to mainstream experiences that have little to do with being gay. People may be born gay, but they’re not born with an inclination to sniff semen-drenched tissues left behind at gas station bathrooms.

How can any parent, any decent person, defend this stuff as instructive?

Predictably, conservatives criticizing the GLSEN recommendations are being attacked as homophobes by Media Matters.  Apparently social cons fail to get suitably worked up about explicit sexual situations in books like The Lord of the Flies. Newsflash: a flip book overview of the Western canon’s raunchiest high school hits wouldn’t come close to some of the violent and abusive sexual experiences depicted in the GLSEN books.

And comparing the GLSEN recommendations to the ALA’s list of banned books is contextually disingenuous.  The Lord of the Flies isn’t assigned because educators are trying to promote tolerance of the behavior described in William Golding’s novel.  The same can’t be said for the titles on the GSLEN list.  It’s all about context, and GLSEN is way off the mark.

Note to Media Matters: some things are indefensible, regardless of political ideology.

via Michelle Malkin

Platitudes and Abstractions? Yes We Can!

President Obama will deliver his Indoctrination Speech™ to the nation’s schoolchildren today.  His silver-tongued litany of subversive communist rhetoric is expected to completely annihilate the morals and values of American students.  Complicit teachers trained in Saul Alinsky’s tactics will use Obama-approved socialist lesson plans to reinforce the president’s radical Marxist agenda.

Or something.

I know those are the right wing talking points on the president’s planned address, but I’m having trouble raising my conservative ire to the expected levels.  Here’s why:

1. The text of President Obama’s speech is innocuous.  Released by the White House on Monday, it looks a lot like a commencement address, sans the humorous one-liners and witty anecdotes. And at 2,540 words, this painfully long speech is almost 10 times longer than the Gettysburg Address.  Kids’ eyes will glaze over, their lids will grow heavy, and they will absorb nothing substantive from the president’s vapid string of platitudes and abstractions because it contains nothing substantive.

2. Varying degrees of indoctrination are rampant in American schools.  If you’re thinking of keeping your kids out of the classroom today, you might as well keep them home everyday.

I attended public elementary school in New York City in the 1980s. My second grade class was taken around the corner from our school to the gates of the USSR Mission compound to protest the incarceration of Soviet dissident Natan Sharansky. This was done without parental permission.

In 1984, after Walter Mondale selected Geraldine Ferraro as his running mate, my teacher excitedly handed students items from campaign headquarters. My classmates and I spent the remainder of the year with Mondale/Ferraro bumper stickers affixed to our canvas loose leaf notebooks.

From what I gather, partisan bias and philosophical indoctrination are just as flagrant in today’s schools.  That’s why conservatives are intuitively wary of a liberal president speaking directly to children.  So yes, I guarantee that in some classrooms there will be bias evident in the exercises and lessons that follow President Obama’s speech.  But I also assure you that there is informal indoctrination taking place in those classrooms all day, every day.  Shielding your children from political bias in the classroom is a laudable goal, but unfortunately, keeping your kids home today is like fixing a leaky pipe with a roll of Bounty.

3. President Obama’s address to the nation’s schoolchildren is a distraction.  Conservatives need to remain focused on the health care debate and the far more important speech the president will make to a joint session of Congress Wednesday night.

In the interest of moving on from this particular distraction, I propose that President Obama cancel his speech to kids and instead run the following video with the same message trimmed down to a succinct 30 seconds or so:

YouTube Preview Image

Sex, Lies, and Georgia GOP Lawmakers

The state of Georgia is facing a $2.2 billion budget shortfall, but some GOP lawmakers believe they have the answer to curbing spending: a good old fashioned smut hunt, starting with public universities. State Representative Calvin Hill (R-Canton) issued a press release earlier this month to express his outrage regarding course offerings at Georgia State University:

What I am about to tell you will shock and disgust you.

Do you know that your tax dollars are being used at our state universities to pay professors to teach your children classes like “Male Prostitution” and “Queer Theory”? Yes, even in tight economic times like we are facing today, our Board of Regents is wasting your tax dollars to teach these totally unnecessary and ridiculous classes.

If that is not enough, you will even find a class entitled “Oral Sex” and another on “Sexual Orientation”. Yes, the list goes on and on.

In his zeal to incite constituent ire about the racy subjects being taught under their very noses, Rep. Hill failed to note he wasn’t actually consulting the course catalog. The subjects cited in Rep. Hill’s press statement are listed in the GSU guide to faculty experts, a document distributed to media outlets, governments, and research organizations to assist them with locating specialists. Oral sex and male prostitution are areas of faculty expertise, not entries on the course roster.

Male prostitution, for example, was the focus of a study of the spread of HIV conducted by faculty member Kirk Elifson. His results were published in the New England Journal of Medicine in 1989. Societal messages about oral sex are being examined by senior lecturer Mindy Stombler, who hopes her findings will help prevent the spread of sexually transmitted infections. Their expertise qualifies them to act as research consultants in these areas; they are not offering how-to seminars.

Stombler and Elifson spoke to the House Higher Education Committee last Tuesday, but Rep. Hill declined to ask the professors any questions at the hearing. Despite clarification from GSU faculty and administrators, Rep. Hill continues to assert, “Our job is to educate our people in sciences, business, math.” Humanities and social sciences be damned!

State Rep. Charlice Byrd (R-Woodstock) is also incensed by this “major misuse of the state university system’s budget.” She told CBS Atlanta:

I probably am a fuddy-duddy. I believe in the Bible. I’m a Christian. I go to church, and these are not the things that we are learning in church and in the Bible. And so if you want to call me a fuddy-duddy, have at it.

In a finger-wagging rebuke of the University delivered via YouTube, notorious fuddy-duddy Rep. Byrd assured viewers, “the timing is perfect to eliminate positions of professors and staff who are paid to provide such services.”

Of particular concern to Rep. Byrd is a course that actually exists, a doctoral seminar on queer theory. The validity of queer theory is certainly controversial and if the topic concerns Rep. Byrd’s constituents, she is obligated to investigate. However, she completely undermined her credibility as an elected representative (and her status as a decent human being) by publicly posting an unsubstantiated, patently outrageous claim (see cached copy here) that “there is a professor in charge of Queer Theory actively recruiting young teenage gays to accompany him on international trips.”

Nothing like implied charges of pedophilia to get an investigation going, huh?

Rep. Hill also suggested inappropriate faculty behavior. “The concern is what are we doing on our campuses? Are we actually recruiting people, if you will, into a lifestyle?” he asked.

By spending time ferreting out queer needles in the academic haystack, Calvin Hill and Charlice Byrd are distracting the Georgia legislature from careful consideration of state budgetary woes. They are manufacturing scandals where none exist.

There is plenty of room for debate regarding the legitimacy of queer theory as a fruitful academic discipline. Camille Paglia once referred to queer theorists as a “wizened crew of flimflamming free-loaders,” and she may be on to something. I tend to believe the academy’s obsessive division and subdivision of disciplines along lines of gender and ethnicity creates intellectually isolated academic ghettos, but that’s an opinion, not a mandate for legislative interference.

Georgia code (§ 20-3-51) specifies that “the government, control, and management of the university system and all of its institutions shall be vested in the Board of Regents.” The Board is also given authority to allocate appropriations among institutions as members see fit. While members of the public are free to voice curricular concerns to the Board, micromanagement of course content is not a function of the state legislature, not even when taxpayer dollars are involved, not even if Charlice Byrd launches an inquisition.