Top 10 Utterly Ridiculous Gender Studies Courses

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



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 Barbie. 

10. Occidental College – The Unbearable Whiteness of Barbie: Race and Popular Culture in the United States

Readin’, writin’, and RACIST!!! A smattering of white guilt, a dash of anti-capitalism, and fresh from the oven at President Obama’s alma mater comes this Marxist inquiry into Barbie’s unbearable whiteness. From the Spring 2010 catalog:

Have you ever said or thought “I don’t look like a Barbie!”? Join the crowd. However, the problem that Barbie presents is infinitely more complex than her supposed life-sized measurements. As the embodiment of complex discourses on race, sex and gender Barbie provides a central figure for this course in exploring broader themes, particularly those of race and social justice. Thus, we will cover a wide territory that ranges from an exploration of the ways in which scientific racism has been put to use in the making of Barbie to an interpretation of the film The Matrix as a Marxist critique of capitalism. You’ll never play with your toys the same way again.

Oxy doesn’t have a separate gender studies major, so this one falls under the Critical Theory and Social Justice Department.

9. Berkeley – Pornographies On/Scene

Linda Williams, author of Porn Studies, offers this course through the Rhetoric Department at Berkeley. She cautions prospective students, “Please realize that curiosity about this course does not mean that you are actually prepared to look closely at a wide variety of explicit sexual representations for an entire semester.” Watching porn with your teacher? Ick. (Or bow chicka wow wow, if you prefer.)

This seminar will bring together debates about the nature of pornography with debates about the nature of the visual. Both will be considered in relation to the (mostly unwritten) history of American visual pornographies and with an eye towards imagining, and even contributing to this history. What, for example, is the canon of hard core pornography? We will concentrate on two moments in the history of moving image pornography: an earlier era of “obscenity,” in which explicit sexual images were kept off-scene for the consumption of private elites in the era of the stag film, and a more contemporary, and increasingly electronic era of “on/scenity” in which pornographies of all sorts become available to wide varieties of consumers, including those to whom it was once forbidden. Although moving-image pornographies will be our primary objects of study, this seminar will also consider the different rhetorics of still and image moving images which aim to arouse, techniques of arousal, and related popular images which also aim to “move” the bodies of spectator/users. Approximately one third of the class will be devoted to general readings in the growing “field” of pornography studies, another third to the question of what constitutes the canon of the stag era (here I will invite those interested to imagine a two disk DVD with notes arguing for what constitutes this canon) and another third to the burning question of electronic, interactive pornographies on small screens.

From the department of You Can’t Make This Stuff Up: the course requires active participation and an oral presentation.

8. Brown University – Che Guevara, the Man and the Myths

What gender studies curriculum would be complete without a course on murderous Communist thug Che Guevara? This class is cross-listed in the Gender and Sexuality Studies and Comparative Literature sections of the Brown University catalog.

Reads Guevara’s political and philosophical writings alongside the literary, visual and filmic representations that have made him one of the twentieth century’s most iconic figures and a symbol for vastly diverging interests. From a cultural studies perspective, compares the development of Guevara’s theories to posthumous uses of his work and image, particularly in and in relation to present-day Cuba.

I wonder if they condemn Che’s persecution of gays. Or maybe they spend some time discussing how he tear-gassed the grieving widows of the prisoners he slaughtered when they came to claim the bodies. Nah. That might intrude on their Motorcycle Diaries viewings and daily group chants of Viva Che!

7. University of Washington – Feminist Understanding of Victims

Surprisingly, this course lasts just one semester. I’m betting it’s a shallow survey, because it would take at least a year to really make a dent in the canon of feminist victimhood literature. Even if full embrace of one’s status as a victim is a prerequisite, that doesn’t leave much time for instructing students on the art of wallowing in victimhood, the science of reveling in victimhood, and of course, the socio-economic impact of rejecting victimhood. From the University of Washington Women’s Studies catalog:

Explores the meanings of the term “victim” within popular, religious, psycho-social, and feminist discourses and the implications these have for victims, people and institutions that serve victims, and scholars who are concerned with these questions. Examines the tensions between activist and academic understandings of the impact of “backlash”.

Is this a scholarly look at victimhood or yet another seminar designed to remind women of their perpetual status as victims of patriarchal oppression? After looking at a syllabus from an earlier version of the course, my money’s on the latter.

6. University of Michigan – How to be Gay: Male Homosexuality and Initiation

Ah, the finest public education taxpayer money can buy now comes complete with lessons on how to be gay.

Before someone cries, “Homophobe!” let me make clear that I’m not interested in stoking the culture war over gay rights, and I’m not suggesting the professor, David Halperin, is evangelizing gayness to otherwise straight-as-an-arrow kids. My guess is that he’s simply a provocateur looking to rile up social conservatives. But really? Is a crash course in how to conform to existing gay stereotypes a legitimate academic pursuit?

Just because you happen to be a gay man doesn’t mean that you don’t have to learn how to become one. Gay men do some of that learning on their own, but often we learn how to be gay from others, either because we look to them for instruction or because they simply tell us what they think we need to know, whether we ask for their advice or not.

This course will examine the general topic of the role that initiation plays in the formation of gay male identity. We will approach it from three angles: (1) as a sub-cultural practice — subtle, complex, and difficult to theorize — which a small but significant body of work in queer studies has begun to explore; (2) as a theme in gay male writing; and (3) as a class project, since the course itself will constitute an experiment in the very process of initiation that it hopes to understand.

Even Perez Hilton was taken aback by this one. His site classified the course as “wacky, tacky & true.”

5. Smith College – Feminisms and the Fate of the Planet

Mother Earth is on the brink and only one thing can bring her back: Ecofeminism! (Or should that be “ecofeminisms“?

We begin this course by sifting the earth between our fingers as part of a community learning partnership with area farms in Holyoke, Hadley, and other neighboring towns. Using women’s movements and feminisms across the globe as our lens, this course develops an understanding of current trends in globalization. This lens also allows us to map the history of transnational connections between people, ideas and movements from the mid-twentieth century to the present. Through films, memoirs, fiction, ethnography, witty diatribes and graphic novels, this course explores women’s activism on the land of laborers, and in their lives. Students will develop research projects in consultation with area farms, link their local research with global agricultural movements, write papers and give one oral presentation.

“We begin this course by sifting the earth between our fingers”? Is “sifting” some sort of scientific measurement now? That this Smith College professor wasn’t embarrassed to write that tells you everything you need to know about this course.

And in case you’re wondering what feminism and environmentalism have to do with each another anyway, here it is in a nutshell: The earth is oppressed and chicks are oppressed (by the patriarchy, of course). So naturally, the subjugation of women can’t end until we free the planet from her patriarchal bonds. It’s likely Cap and Trade is integral to the process.

4. University of Michigan – Rednecks, Queers, and Country Music

As bizarre as some of these courses are, the overt prejudice in this women’s studies class at the University of Michigan is particularly offensive. The notion that one’s sexual identity somehow dictates musical preferences is an absurd stereotype, not a valid basis for a semester of academic work. Note the elitist condescension in the course description:

What kinds of LGBT people listen, dance, and socialize to country music? And what kinds of country music appeal to LGBT people? The notion of queer country fandom clashes with popular images of both “queer” and “country.” Queer identity is often associated with gay men, and urban, bourgeois, coastal lifestyles. Country music is linked to heterosexual white, rural, working-class, Southern, and Midwestern cultures and has often been invoked as a symbol of “redneck” bigotry. This seminar therefore asks how music that to many people sounds homophobic and racist serves as a medium for multicultural queer social and sexual exchange. Assignments include country listening and readings in country music studies, social science and humanities literature on U.S. rural queers, and social theory on class.

In a way, this course description makes sense. Country music artists really do throw the N word around far too often, and the anti-gay lyrics are a little much. Oh, wait, that’s rap music, not country. If you’re going to go after a musical genre for homophobia and racism, is it really country music that’s the pinnacle of bigotry?

3. Hampshire College – Women’s Fabrication Skills

Technically this is an applied design course, but it was screaming to be included. What does a course in “women’s fabrication skills” cover? Maybe it’s a survey of women’s contributions to design? Or a look at the ways fabrication skills have impacted women’s lives?

No. It’s shop class … for chicks.

“Women’s Fab”, as it is commonly called, is an introductory shop course that is designed to provide female students with a shop environment that addresses their unique needs and concerns about learning new skills.

I mean, c’mon, how are women supposed to get their learning on when men are breathing the same air? If we ladies are going to work metal, we need to do it away from the watchful eye of the patriarchy.

Also, gender segregation in art classes is hawt!

2. Occidental College – The Phallus

This course offered by Obama’s alma mater topped a 2007 list of the most bizarre and politically correct courses.

A survey of psychoanalytic theories of gender and sexuality. Topics include the signification of the phallus, the relation of the phallus to masculinity, femininity, genital organs and the fetish, the whiteness of the phallus, and the lesbian phallus. The authors we read include Freud, Riviere, Lacan, Irigaray, Kristeva, Grosz, Gallop, Silverman, de Laurentis, and Butler.

In prior years, the syllabus also included sections on “the Jewish phallus, the Latino phallus, and the relation of the phallus and fetishism.”

1. Occidental College – Gender, Race and Gay Rights in the Obama Era

Yes, it’s one more course from Oxy, where they’re so proud to have Obama as an alum, they created a course on the Obama Era that has nothing to do with Obama.

This course is an introduction to the concept that gender, race, sex and sexuality (among other aspects of one’s identity) are social constructions. We shall examine the fight for equal citizenship for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered Americans, commonly known as the “gay rights movement.” Using the period beginning with the birth of Barack Obama in August 1961 we will focus specifically on how notions of who can marry as well as the cultural, religious, legal and societal significance of marriage have changed as the country enters the era of President Obama. Our texts will be academic articles, court cases, popular media pieces and moving images. All students in this class will be using Web 2.0 tools such as blogging, twitter and web publishing to facilitate their development as both consumers and producers of intellectual content. No previous knowledge is required and technological support will be provided.

They really can’t get away with studying President Obama’s actual views on race, gender, and gay rights, considering how embarrassing his record is to the academic Left. They’d have to stay away from gay rights since Obama opposes gay marriage. Gender? Well, the Hyde Amendment still exists, so Obama hasn’t fulfilled the Left’s deepest wish. And on race? I think we can all agree we’re not living in post-racial America. Beer summit, anyone?

As far as I can tell, the use of Obama’s name in the course title is simply a marketing ploy to suck in 18-year-old Obamaphiles who want to be Part of Historyâ„¢. They’re probably the only ones who still believe this:


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One Response to “Top 10 Utterly Ridiculous Gender Studies Courses”

  1. Dale on January 8th, 2011 4:04 am

    Those classes are pure B.S. propaganda, and we pay for those courses with our tax money? What a colossal waste of money & time! No wonder kids do not learn anything in school!

    Thanks for the post!

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