Tuesday, January 27, 2009

I know the reason behind it

...but it still makes me sad when, out of 20 students in a women's history course, only two will self-identify as feminists. And even then, their little hands only go up as far as their shoulder.

5 comments:

Belle said...

Ain't it the truth? The anti's have done a better job at identifying us than we have.

Anonymous said...

I'll be interested to hear what they say. I've had many students espouse classical feminist ideals, but then say they "aren't feminists." I wonder how much of this is the result of the politicization of nomenclature by the Right.

Anonymous said...

LOL! This reminds me of what I still consider to my one of my greatest teaching triumphs! I taught a course on the querelle des femmes at an inner-city branch of a state u one semester. The students got not one, but two gen-ed credits for taking the course, so there was only one history major in the class. On the first day, I asked them how many were feminists, and not a single hand went up. Then we started reading primary sources, beginning with Chaucer's "The Miller's Tale." I kept asking them what the attitude towards women and gender relationships was in the readings, and why that particular time and place had those attitudes. Then I asked them whether our society still had any of those same attitudes. We had lots of great discussions of players and hos, and why one is considered good and the other isn't. When I asked them on the last day of class who was a feminists, all but one hand went up! I think the problem is that they really don't understand what feminism *is*, so it's easier to believe that anti hype!
Barb

Psych Post Doc said...

I guess you'll be doing some self identity teaching this year. :) Here's to hoping for more hands at the end of the semester.

historiann said...

Ugh. I think it is mostly a victory of (as Anonymous 6:11 says) "the nomenclature by the Right." If you ask them if they believe that the law should discriminate on the basis of sex, they will 99% of them say no, whereas 30 years ago you would have had a debated in class.

I had a comment on a student eval recently for my American women's history to 1800 class that complained that "we learned a lot about oppressed women but I wanted to learn more about the majority of women." Yeah--before 1800? And I'd like to teach a class about the history of Unicorns! But I don't think that's going to happen.

(Actually, I think this was in part a complaint that we read 2 books about Indian women and 2 books about African American women, and only 2 books that were partially or mostly about white women--and despite the fact that non-white women were actually in the majority in North America before 1800, I guess I should just teach about white ladies in colonial costumes...)