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The empress with no clothes: women's studies.
March 27, 2002
Women Who Lie
The empress with no clothes: women's studies.
by Kathryn Jean Lopez
Maybe you have a daughter who has decided to major in "women's studies"
in college. Or it's your neighbor's kid, your roommate, whoever. You might
figure it's a fairly benign discipline - "the study of women's contributions to
and involvement in culture, politics, and literature throughout history," as one
woman told me when I asked for a quick definition.
But enter the world of women's studies and you'll find a whole different
Its goal is to "transform knowledge." And there's nothing harmless about it.
In a study published by the Independent Women's Forum, "Lying in a Room
of One's Own: How Women's Studies Textbooks Miseducate Students,"
Christine Stolba, a senior fellow with IWF, peeks into the classrooms - and
primary texts - of the revolution. Stolba's treatment is not a worst-of list of
outrages. It's something far more disturbing.
Stolba analyzes five core women's studies textbooks. You might expect
that the texts of women's studies professionals might be a little more
inventive - even, say, more reasonable - than the average feminist's
talking points. Think again. After all, where else would they get the
talking points? The wage gap. The glass ceiling. Ailing women's health.
Poor grade-school girls ignored in the classroom. You name it, it's
probably there. There's not one serious look at the extant body of work
that debunks most of their reigning mythology. In other words, it's an
entire discipline with its facts fundamentally wrong.
You might think it would be considered a good thing for women to be
independent thinkers, especially among the college-educated sisters. Nah.
As Stolba tells NRO, "What surprised me the most about the textbooks
was the nearly universal absence of points of view (and often facts) that
might undermine the theme that women remain victims of patriarchal
Here's a sampling of from one of the texts, as Stolba documents in her study:
* Margaret L. Andersen's Thinking About Women: Sociological Perspectives
on Sex and Gender begins by warning readers that, although many people
"conclude that women now have it made," in fact "women college graduates
who worked full time earned, on average, 70 percent of what men college
graduates earned"; and "despite three decades of policy change to address
gender inequality at work, women and minorities are still substantially
blocked from senior management positions in most U.S. companies." Later,
Andersen calls it a "social myth" that women are achieving economic parity
* Women's Realities, Women Choices offers a similar assessment: "If we
work for pay, we tend to work in gender segregated sectors of the economy.
and to receive less wages than men in comparable jobs." The textbook
further notes that "women earn less and have fewer opportunities for
choice and advancement than men. In 1890, a woman earned 46 cents for
every dollar a man earned. A century later, we still earn only 69 cents."
Though it's nothing new for feminists to downplay the role of women's
familial choices in consideration of their career realities, these texts
fail to note the prominent female critics of their claims. June O'Neill,
recent head of the Congressional Budget Office, is only one of many who
have long since debunked the "wage gap" whining. Nor do the women's
studies cadres care that "equal pay for equal work" is the law of the
land, thanks to the Equal Pay Act of 1963.
But then, of course - as Stolba notes - "equal pay for equal work" is not
good enough. They want "comparable worth," that is, "centralized
wage-setting based on categories of comparable skill levels." One wonders
how these scholars propose to engage in a successful public-policy debate
when they are incapable even of recognizing that they have legitimate
opponents, with data and arguments of their own.
Wonder what the next generation of professional feminists are learning
about men? In a section decrying the supposed lack of funding for women's
health (you guessed it, filled with junk facts), one of the textbooks
weasels out of acknowledging the disparities suffered by men, instead
noting what's really sick: masculinity itself.
Mortality differences between men and women are determined by men's
greater risk of death by accident. [but this is] itself a function of men's
engagement in risky behavior, violent activity, and alcohol consumption.
Men - those damn uncontrollable drunk brutes! There are students getting
degrees in this stuff.
All the subjective drama and lies that are fit to print go into making up
some of these women's studies textbooks. How's this for an intro to
coursework, from Thinking About Women:
* Perhaps at school you see that most of the professors are men... or
perhaps you notice that women are concentrated in the lowest-level jobs
and are sometimes treated as if they were not even there. It may occur to
you one night as you are walking through city streets that the bright lights
shining in the night skyline represent the thousands of women - many of them
African-American, Latina, or Asian American - who clean the corporate
suites and offices for organizations that are dominated by White men.
And there's lots more drama where that came from. Try describing women in
America today as slaves. From Issues in Feminism, another one of the texts:
* An even more perfected form of slavery was one in which the slaves were
unaware of their condition, unaware that they were controlled, believing
instead that they had freely chosen their life and situation. The control of
women by patriarchy is effected in just such a way, by mastery of beliefs
and attitudes through the management of all the agencies of belief formation.
Coming from a loudmouth feminist talk-show host, this wouldn't be a big deal.
It can even be expected from the typical "national organization of women"
type lobbyist now guaranteed a seat at virtually every negotiation table in
Washington. But this is the foundation of a serious academic discipline?
It is now.
Stolba found many more myths - and downright lies - while educating herself
about the science of womenhood: concerning homosexuality, domestic
violence, daughters and fathers (dad = a "foreign male element" who comes
between you and fellow sister mom), and more.
And, unless the realities of motherhood manage to change them, as has
happened with some of their foremothers, this could very well be an
endless cycle. Talk about a cycle of violence - against reality. According
to Stolba, when it comes to our most important institutions - marriage and
motherhood - the former is viewed "with unwarranted suspicion and the
latter as a burden to be overcome."
These women's studies textbooks ignore a body of work that has highlighted
the ways women benefit from marriage - physically as well as mentally. But
then, these books are also written by women who clearly must simply hate
the concept. Yet another example of Stolba's findings, from Women's
Realities, Women's Choices:
* The institutions of marriage and the role of "wife" are intimately
connected with the subordination of women in society ion general. It is
the constraints on women to engage freely in various social activities,
whether in sexual intercourse, economic exchanges, politics, or war, that
make us "dependent " on men, that oblige us to become "wives."
"Remember that revolutions often wind up devouring their own children,"
Stolba warns. Seeing what the children of this revolution believe and what
they're feeding their ideological daughters, perhaps that might be best.
NRO Home: http://www.nationalreview.com/
Independent Women's Forum [IWF]
IWF Releases Review of Women's Studies Textbooks [20 Mar 02]
Just in Time for Women's History Month, IWF has released a review of
Women's Studies textbooks by Christine Stolba that reveals questionable
scholarship, ideological bias, and sins of omission. "The 'knowledge'
transmitted by Women's Studies textbooks is often factually and
interpretively at odds with reality," concludes Lying in a Room of One's
Own: How Women's Studies Textbooks Miseducate Students.
(click here for details and to download a free copy)
How feminism is now alienating women from science.
by Noretta Koertge -- Skeptical Inquirer/Upstream, Mar/Apr 95
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JUNE is Domestic Violence Against Men Awareness Month