Feminist Theory Urgently Needed

My students need an urgent course in feminist theory. I didn’t have the slightest idea of how incapable they are of making an even remotely feminist analysis of a work of art. I’m a feminist and so is everybody I know. As a result, I’m completely out of touch with how infected many people are with a deeply patriarchal way of thinking. The absolute majority of my students (irrespective of gender, by the way) hold the following beliefs:

– If a woman works, she does so only because there is no man who can provide for her. There is no other conceivable reason why a woman might be working.

– If a man does not keep a woman and “has to allow her to work”, he has no choice than to feel desperate and “unmanly.”

– Women almost never leave men. Men are the ones who are more likely to leave. (This is not surprising, since in this bizarre imaginary universe where women have no income of their own, they wouldn’t be able to leave.)

– Women cannot have male friends. If a woman has a male friend, it means she is sleeping with him.

– If a man lives in a pigsty, that means there is no woman who loves him.

– Men don’t care about their appearance. But that’s OK because women also don’t care about men’s appearance.

– If a woman leaves an alcoholic husband who beats her, she betrays family values.

– If a man hugs his male friend to comfort him, that explains why women don’t like him.

– A high percentage of women who work is a sign of a bad economy.

– Unless a man and a woman have very strictly defined and very different roles in the family, the family will fall apart.

– Masculinity is a quality men acquire by paying all the bills.

I believe that we need to add at least one course in Gender Studies to the basic requirements for all students to prepare them for life in the modern world. These kids can do a kick-ass analysis of class issues, they mostly lean  towards very progressive political and economic views, but in terms of gender roles, they are living in such a remote past that my illiterate great-great-grandmother would have been horrified with their opinions.

People! Friends! Citizens! Are we still living in 2012 or have we traveled far back in time?

P.S. One wonderful, amazing, brilliant student made me feel better about things when she wrote, “Only old people care about gender roles.”

What Men Don’t Do

OK, this is getting too bizarre for words.

From a female student’s essay:

“The husband goes shopping for shoes and clothes which is not normal because normally women are the ones who shop.”

I wonder what degree of abnormality she would diagnose my husband with. This poor perverted guy yesterday bought a broom and cleaning gloves he needs to clean the apartment. I wonder if DSM-5 has a name for the disorder he and I suffer.

 

And Normal Men

From a female student’s essay:

“The situation we see in the movie is not normal. In a normal situation, a man works, provides for the family, and makes all the decisions while his wife stays at home and takes care of the kids. In the movie, Ana works and makes decisions which makes her husband unhappy because this is not how women should behave.”

Maybe I should ask her what she is doing in my class instead of staying at home and breeding like a rabbit.

Seriously, if I see the word “normal” in one more essay, I will gag. My feeble female nature rebels against the abnormality of having to grade papers to make my living.

Abnormal Women

From a male student’s essay:

“In the movie Mondays in the Sun, women behave in abnormal ways. They have jobs, make money, get divorced, and have sex with different men. These are not normal behaviors for women.”

The kid has still got a lot to learn about life. Maybe I should ask his female classmates to enlighten him a bit.

Reader Appreciation Series: Z

Of all the blogs I follow, mine has the best readers and commenters. I can’t tell you how good it makes me feel to see such a bunch of passionate, well-informed, fascinating and intellectual people come to the space I created. This is why I decided to start the Reader Appreciation Series where I will dedicate separate posts to my favorite readers and commenters. The names of readers will come up randomly. I have entered all of the people I want to show appreciation for into a Kindle app, and it will be feeding me names randomly. So please don’t read anything into being appreciated in a post #5 or #15. I love you all a lot. You, people, make me feel very happy and relevant. And if you read but never comment, now is the time to start, or I won’t be able to dedicate a post to you.

Z is a fellow Hispanist and an academic blogger whose great blog can be found here. Z is one of the most passionate bloggers I have ever encountered and a daily source of inspiration. Z’s analysis of the structural problems plaguing the academic world is always profound. I keep her inspiring words “writing is fun, publishing is easy, teaching is a pleasant social and artistic experience, and administration is creative” on the wall of my office and repeat them to myself daily. And it really helps.

Z belongs to the generation of female academics who have had to face incredible hardships on their professional and personal journey. She is an activist whose capacity for caring is nothing short of stunning. Her dedication and power offer an example for all young scholars. I relate to Z’s passion, her thirst for knowledge and I envy her the resilience and the courage she has.

People like Z are the hope and the pride of the American academia, and I’m honored to have her visit my blog.