There has been a great deal of discussion over the Feminist & Gender Studies Program changing its name to Gender & Sexuality. The basis of this debate is over the exclusion of the word "feminist" from the title. It is important to question how this modification will affect the direction of the program and the feminist movement as a whole. The categorization of this area of study must be sensitive to the complex social issues it represents. Bringing the term "gender" to the fore-front, and focusing less on women, is a necessary "part of the attempt by contemporary feminists to stake claim to a certain definitional ground, to insist on the inadequacies of existing bodies of men" (Scott, 166). This new spotlight on gender and sexuality does not detract from feminism at all; rather it represents the next step in the evolution of the feminist movement.
As Lacqueur stated, categorization "is an inescapable consequence of our biological makeup" (Lacqueur, 18). This is especially true in any college, where categories are institutionalized in order to help guide students along their academic path. It is hard to imagine academics as "a purely uncategorized and unconceptualized experience" (Lacqueur, 19). However, categories have a way of excluding some people, since people are diverse and do not fit into neat containers.
This holds especially true with the Feminist & Gender Studies Program. The term "feminist" is a category that many students do not identify with because of its history of race, class, and sex. Some female students are not comfortable with its overtly confrontational ideas and do not want to be associated with the "man-hating" stereotype that is portrayed in society. African-American students can feel alien...
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...ne society provided for me. I felt on the outside of feminism, because I thought my interests in boys, marriage, and motherhood was not included in its definition. After learning what feminism really was during my sophomore year, I discovered I was not on the outside after all.
I have to admit that, at first, I was disappointed by the omission of the word "feminist" from the title of the program. At the time, I was just feeling at ease with my personal realization that I was feminist. I found myself feeling, once again, on the outside. I know after taking this class, that defining myself by any category is a wasted effort. The focus should be on who I am and not how well I fit into any category. I now understand why the only required course, one which concentrates on de-constructing gender, and the new focus of the program is the only thing that will save us all.
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