Do people literally think that gender studies classes entail sitting around comparing oppressions and handing out points for whoever finds the most privileged white boy to attack?
… pretty much? Like, not 100% of course but a lot like that.
If so why do they think that?
Have you looked at the syllabus for your school’s gender studies courses? Have you flipped through a gender studies textbook? Have y’all read any gender studies papers outside of “you won’t believe what bullshit they published” articles?
No of course not.
But here’s the thing: I didn’t look at the syllabus for the organic chemistry department either, and yet I feel like I have a pretty good grasp of what that’s about, and when I’ve talked to chemists we don’t talk past each other. Construction engineers/same thing. Business Majors with a minor in Arabic/same thing. Teachers/. Doctors/.
So why do I think that’s what gender studies is like? The same way I know what Organic Chemistry is like: I’ve done a slight bit of reading, have a slight bit of natural interest, and have spoken to people who studied this. I know there’s more to it than dunking on privileged people, but the part of it that affects my life is pretty much all like that.
Only when I am critical of the continental philosophical tradition, and its various derivatives like gender studies, does this idea surface; that you’re only allowed to critique things after dedicating your life to them.
And I have another paragraph I want to write but I don’t know how to write it without sounding either exceptionally arrogant or exceptionally insulting. I’m going to try and I ask you to please interpret it kindly because I don’t actually dislike people who dedicate their studies to the liberal arts, but here it comes:
Things gain traction in the analytical tradition because it is close enough to the truth to be useful. Things gain traction in the liberal arts exclusively because it is fashionable.
You say dunking on privileged people like there shouldn’t be giant wiggly finger quotes around “privileged” for the way the privilege intersectionality tends to go Race, Sex, Sexuality, Religion, Nationality, Etc rather than Wealth, Wealth Again, Everyfuckingthing Else.
See the thing is, about 95% of my perception of gender studies (and similar programs) are from think pieces, and from tumblr people’s responses to think pieces. And while think piece writers are of course a menace and while of course their mendacity has its roots in whatever is currently fashionable in Academe, I don’t want to blame people who write gender studies papers for the works of people who write think pieces.
There’s obviously a clear line in between, but in the end the blame assigned for written words most fall on either the author or the publisher, not on other people who were tangentially involved.