Incorrect assumptions about gender studies circulate in National Post

ANTIGONISH, N.S. (CUP) — Last month, Canada’s daily right-wing rag, the National Post, ran an editorial lamenting the perseverance of women’s studies programs in universities across the country.

The Jan. 26 editorial “Women’s Studies is still with us” offered a skeptical take on reports that women’s studies programs are in decline, saying “We would wave good-bye without shedding a tear, but we are pretty sure these angry, divisive and dubious programs are simply being renamed to make them appear less controversial.”

The Post’s editorial board seems to be erroneously conflating two important changes to women’s studies departments: one, the issue of budget cuts to these already underfunded programs; and two, the trend of altering the title “women’s studies” to “gender studies” recently adopted at universities like Queen’s.

So women’s studies professors and students are decrying the draining of resources from their departments, but the National Post (in all its wisdom) is claiming there is no real threat to women’s studies (although its editorial board would like there to be) because the feminists (re: seekers of equality) have launched a devious plan to seduce (as women are prone to do) more people into taking these courses by — wait, changing the name of the programs to be more inclusive and exemplary of feminism’s third wave?

With confusing names like “gender studies,” students will never be able to detect that they are being indoctrinated with the extremist views that have “done untold damage to families, our court systems, labour laws, constitutional freedoms and even the ordinary relations between men and women.”

This would be funny if it wasn’t so darn important; it would merit no mention if the National Post were some obscure right-wing blog in cyberspace instead of a national daily with a circulation of more than 200,000.

That misogyny of this extent can infiltrate the mainstream media is a testament to why women’s studies programs need all the support they can get.

I didn’t always know that the terms ‘gender’ and ‘sex’ weren’t interchangeable. Nor was I always conscious of the abysmal absence of women in our studies of history, art or politics.

Students who become feminists while at university — and I am certainly one of them — find women’s studies courses to be transformational, and we cherish them.

So long as Leave it to Beaver & Co. are running the show at the National Post, ridiculing our demands for fairer labour market policies and childcare, there’s a role for women’s studies in educating young men and young women on university campuses.

Maybe then we could initiate a mainstream discourse so publications like the National Post couldn’t survive.

I know I wouldn’t shed a tear.