Feminism Studies Is Similar to Astrology

Please note that any opinions expressed by this writer do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the staff of the Megaphone.
womenbathroom.jpgThere are a lot of things in this world that are started with good intentions, but are completely misguided in all of their premises. Take things like world peace, bringing democracy to foreign countries without it and saving species that don’t really matter as examples. Now, I know a bit about these things, but by far the one I’m most immediately familiar with is Feminist Studies. But before I say anything about that, I must make a few things clear to begin with: First, I understand the points that Feminist Studies attempts to make despite the fact I am not majoring in the discipline. You can know what biology is about without ever having read a biology textbook in your life. Second, I must state that I am not personally against anyone who studies feminism, feminist teachers or the like. Finally, I must emphasize that I am definitely for first and second wave feminism, which championed women’s rights and equality in the workplace. Those movements produced wonderful changes within our society that allowed women to pursue their own careers without the fetters of having to fulfill traditional family roles imposed by patriarchy.

What I don’t love is third-wave feminism, which is generally the purview of feminist studies. What’s wrong with the “study” altogether is that its practitioners use silly academic fluff like postmodernism, post-structuralism and psychoanalysis in an ineffective attempt to substantiate their prevailing notions that gender does not exist. It’s too bad that gender isn’t as much of a social construct as something like an economic system, but that’s just not the case. If you want to make such claims like that you should read the science first. A good starting point is chapter 18 of Steven Pinker’s book “The Blank Slate.” His work does everything this op-ed attempts to do and more.

The fact remains that men and women are fundamentally different and always will be. If they weren’t, evolution never would have happened, girls would ask men for their number, and you’d see a hell of a lot more guys in a Bath and Body Works store. There’s more than enough evolutionary and developmental psychology out there to tell you that differences appear prenatally and manifest themselves before that evil boogieman they call society ever “corrupts” these poor kids’ brains.

You can cavil all you want with facts, but the only thing that will make them disappear is a rubber eraser. Read the data and you will see that gender roles are the results of inherent biological tendencies just like everything in society is. After all, you don’t think society was created in a vacuum do you? Everything you see around you has some genetic basis otherwise it wouldn’t exist. The fact that most people have a fonder view of men who have frequent sex with different partners than women who do likewise has nothing to do with society. It has everything to do with genes.

As a further caveat, that’s not to say that literally everything you see in society is a product of the environment. Obviously there was no genetic predisposition causing society to disregard women’s right to vote and be independent. But there are such things called sex chromosomes and the research will assure that almost every individual with XX chromosomes will have a feminine disposition and almost every individual with XY chromosomes will have a masculine one.

So with all of this in mind, why does feminist studies even exist as a major? After four years, all those feminist studies graduates are going to have is a worthless piece of paper tacked onto their wall in the form of a “college degree.” Also, if you are going to let feminist studies exist you should let masculinist studies exist as well. Seems only fair right? Let’s say Title IX for the academic world.

It’s a shame we don’t see more intellectual honesty in academia. The last thing we need is another pseudo-intellectual practice spring up within universities that has some undeserved inviolability and respect from other academicians. But if you are fine with such practices existing, why not palm-reading, witchcraft or astrology? How would going to a school that offered those disciplines make you feel about the validity of your college education?

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41 Responses to Feminism Studies Is Similar to Astrology

  1. Meg says:

    I happen to have XX chromosomes and have a pretty masculine disposition, thank you very much. And I’m not the only girl I know who has such. And apparently you have a problem with the fact that I enjoy shooting and weight lifting and short hair and jeans and etc.

    The “problem of feminism” which you consider to be that it doesn’t believe in gender is misguided (and that’s putting it politely). Feminism believes in gender, oh boy does it. What Feminism does is attempt to look at how that affects people’s lives. For example, when people like you write misinformed (did you even talk to a Fem. Studies professor or student?) articles based on another social construction – science. Did you know that someone had to decide that boys would be called boys and that they would have these features? I don’t know what you think, but we didn’t just wake up one day and know we were “boys” and “girls.” Language is a construction. The way are society is set up is a construction. And that’s not necessarily a bad thing, but it needs to be examined on how it oppresses people who do not buy into sometimes narrow guidelines.

    Feminism deals with a lot of issues apart from gender, like sexuality, class, race, what some people consider disability, etc. And it seems that you think Feminism has done all it can do. Well, frankly, it’s people like you that perpetuate a gendered society that cause people to be made fun of and murdered over their gender expression, or perceived gender expression. So thanks for continuing to promote bigot ideas and contribute to hate and misunderstanding. Feminism has dealt a lot in the political realm, and what you term “third wave feminism” is doing is moving beyond the home and workplace and moving to a more intangible problem, like social constructions and how those harm people. So fine, if you think no one is made to feel ashamed over their gender expression, if you think no one is bullied and harmed for their clothing choices or gestures/features, then feminism is irrelevant and shouldn’t be in our colleges. But thing about it. What do you do that could be considered “feminine?” And how might you be treated because of that when you are perceived as a male? Feminism is very important and very real because it goes beyond laws to touch on what people think and do. And last time I checked, the consequences of people’s actions are very, very real, and potentially very harmful. Your article would be a case-in-point here.

    And, at the end of the day, perhaps you’re just afraid that no gender would take away you male privilege.

  2. Kara Jones says:

    My feelings about this article are difficult to express. I’m not really angry, but perhaps I’m upset. There are many things about this article that I don’t agree with, but I want to escape the emotional route and talk about, instead, where things might have gone wrong.
    It is very rarely a good idea to criticize something that you don’t fully understand. I’ve never taken a Feminism class for a few reasons. One, I’ve been lucky never to have felt repressed enough to be interested in that kind of thing (this may be a lame excuse–but it is mine). Two, I’ve always felt that feminism in some way alienates males. Every time there is a discussion of the harms done to women in my classes, I feel bad for the guys in the class who may or may not be made to feel guilty for something.
    However, this article has opened my eyes a little wider to the world. I have never felt like a part of a construction–something fake and produced by society. I wish for the author of this article to take a feminists studies class and see what he can learn! Maybe we would all see a little clearer. After all, what is a liberal arts university for, but a way to study many different things in many different disciplines?

  3. Brooke says:

    Wow, the Megaphone just got classier. Nice job changing the article title to the most incendiary remark in the whole article.

  4. Ryan,
    Unless I’m very much mistaken, the basic thesis of your recent editorial in the Megaphone concerning the Feminist Studies department (full disclosure: I’m a minor and my adviser’s the department chair) seems to be that all existing differences in the behaviors (and presumably the social positions) of men and women are the result of genetics.

    First of all, it’s simply in bad taste to compare an established department at our college the equivalent of “astrology.” That sort of ad hominem attack simply discredits you as a writer and weakens your case.

    Second, what exactly are these “genetic differences” that result in “everything you see around you” that cause, say, pay inequality, or homophobia, or religious extremism? After all, the Catholic Church opposes birth control as part of its ideology concerning gender relations–is that based in the Y-chromosome?

    Furthermore, it is a fact that men and women are not equal today. From unequal representation to pay inequality to the way sexual assault survivors are treated, there is a definite power imbalance. Extending your logic that current sex roles are biologically based, does that mean that date rape is written into men’s genes?

    Extending your logic even further, what about racism? After all, forms of ethnic/tribal/national chauvinism have existed since the beginning of recorded history–if “everything you see around you has a genetic basis otherwise it wouldn’t exist,” then does that mean that African-Americans are genetically predisposed toward poverty?

    Additionally, contemporary American sexual mores are by no means universal. Margaret Mead, for example, documented a tribe in the islands of Southeast Asia whose sex roles were exactly the same as ours–except reversed! Furthermore, there is no reason to believe that everything that is, is right (or necessary)–and to pretend that socialization has no impact on gendered behavior is simply unrealistic.

    After all, what do we do when a child expresses cross-gender behavior? We tell a little boy who wants to play with Barbies not to be a sissy. Furthermore, over time, what is considered “masculine” and “feminine” has changed over time. Were an 18th-century French aristocratic male to be transported to contemporary America, he would spend a great deal of time at Bath and Body Works.

    Finally, how do you explain people like me? As a trans person, I have a y-chromosome, and yet am not only female, but am *extremely* feminine in personality, but not in build or anatomy.

    One last note–you contradict yourself when you say that sex roles are genetically determined yet claim to support first- and second-wave feminism–each of those radically challenged the gender norms of the past five thousand years of Western society.

  5. Courtney Hodge says:

    I would just like to thank everyone posting here for making the effort to engage in a polite, opinionated, and articulate debate with the writer rather than attacking the Megaphone. Also, I would like to express my enthusiasm to see constructive debate and feedback rather than fear mongering and cries for Political Correction that’s going on in other forums.

  6. April says:

    Good to see we’ve reverted back to Social Darwinism. Everything is a result of genetics!

    If you’re poor, guess what? Your genes predicate you to be poor. So sorry!

    Victim of racism? Your culture or ethnic group has been repressed, or worse, eradicated and murdered through genocide? Sorry – that’s because of your genes. Better luck next time!

    Live in a culture where men are “supposed” to act emotional, weak, and don’t have much say in the political or social culture, while women are deemed intelligent, clever, strong and capable (as in the ethnography Ms. Lannon mentioned by Margaret Mead)? ….Oh, wait. That doesn’t fit. Crap. Well, shove it under the rug! They must have alien genetics, or something. FACT.

    Goodness. This is why feminism studies exists, because of people like Mr. McDermott who claim openness and awareness, yet perpetuate the myths and dialogue that prevent our societies from growing and keep women or minorities down.

  7. Jillie '07 says:

    After reading this editorial, I had to scroll back up to the top of the page to make sure it didn’t say “Megafool.” The last time the megaphone published such uninformed, offensive nonsense, that was the case– but unfortunately it is not the case this time.

  8. Chloe Picot says:

    “There are a lot of things in this world that are started with good intentions, but are completely misguided in all of their premises”

    I hope you recognize the irony in this statement, Ryan.

    Unfortunately I do not have the time nor the energy to delve into my personal feelings on this article, but I must point out the fact that some portions of the above text are completely false.

    “Everything you see around you has some genetic basis otherwise it wouldn’t exist.”

    Someone hasn’t done their research. There are COUNTLESS things around us that are not based on genetics, including social constructs (political parties,socioeconomic classes, forms of government, culture, etc.).

    “The fact that most people have a fonder view of men who have frequent sex with different partners than women who do likewise has nothing to do with society”

    This statement is ABSURD. The standards expected from men and women in terms of sexual behavior absolutely have to do with society! This comment totally contradicts itself by drawing on something which is a completely Western, if not specifically American, view (that it is more acceptable for men to be promiscuous than women). If this was due to genetics, we would see the same expectations all over the world. The fact that it is largely, if not wholly, a practice of the Western world clearly demonstrates that it has to do with society.

    If anything on the Southwestern campus calls into question the validity of your university’s education, it is the presence of individuals like you on the premises. You have made sweeping statements to the public based on the meaningless clatter of dust rolling around in your hollow head.

    Even astrology has more of a basis in logic than you, Mr. McDermott.

  9. Samuel Marsh says:

    As a staff member of the Megaphone, I would like to point out that there is a shortage of writers, (as is evidenced by Mr. McDermott’s 3 articles in the most recent issue) so come to copy meetings on Tuesdays at 9 in the third floor of McCombs, and get paid to write!

  10. Brooke Lyssy says:

    Wait, where was the part where you argued against the actual claims feminist studies makes?

  11. Ricardo Levario says:

    I found the article empty of any substance, McDermott’s views can be summed up into two or three sentences and they are nothing more than personal opinions. The article is just another example of a characteristic shared by many students at Southwestern, which is rambling on with the use of intelligent words in an attempt to display intelligence. The only difference is that McDermott was in a position where he could publish such ramblings.

    However, I found the discussion sparked by the article much more meaningful. Maybe the attention-needy, like Mr. McDermott, are necessary in society in order to open up a dialogue regarding issues that are far form being resolved. On the other hand, perhaps scholars could contribute from the onset and take part in journalism to present issues from a more intelligent point of view instead of leaving the mass media in the hands of monkeys flinging feces at each other.

  12. Emily says:

    “Gender” and “sex” are two different things. The terms male and female refer to sex. Females have XX and males have XY. Every child, until a certain point while still in the womb, has female body characteristics. Once the hormones start taking effect, these characteristics change to become what we think of as male or female.

    Gender has many terms associated with it, and can change from person to person. I refer to myself as genderqueer. I am female by birth, but do not feel female (or male for that matter). I can be feminine or masculine depending on my mood that day when I get dressed. Does this make me any less female? No.

    The main point I wanted to make is that what you are refering to a masculine and feminine behaviors vary between cultures. In the USA, we have a view that men are supposed to be strong, physically and mentally. In some European cultures, it is considered normal for men to express emotion (like crying). It is also normal within other cultures for men to touch another’s hands or shoulders while they are having a conversation, or use less pressure when shaking hands (whereas in the US, the man applies more pressure to show they are strong and authoritative).

    My point is that what you are calling masculine and feminine varies between cultures. Yet there are not genetic differences between their Y chromosome and yours. They are just as much men as you are. Within there culture, it is socially acceptable. So I do not see the merit in the argument that men are born to be masculine and women are born to be feminine because of genetics. If that were the case, it would be the case in every culture, every country, across the globe.

  13. L.O.L.

    Do I really need to say anything else?

    What a seriously misinformed individual.

  14. Claire says:

    Having worked for the Megaphone before, I understand how the writing and editing process works behind the scenes. While I don’t agree with McDermont’s assertions, I am very disappointed that every time the Megaphone prints a controversial article there is an uproar of censorship.

    “Why was this even printed?”

    “Who allowed this to be put in the paper in the first place?”

    The job of the Megaphone is not to print articles that will make everyone happy, and in fact for any kind of publication, that is impossible. Readers need to recognize that although the majority of campus disagrees with McDermont, it is still an opinion that has a right to be heard.

    There have also been comments on the quality of writing in this article and other articles that spark controversy. The Megaphone is an open forum for ANYONE who wants to write. I know the entire editorial staff would love to have a selection of incredibly articulate and meaningful articles to choose from, but unfortunately what is put in the paper is ALL we have to choose from.

    I know the Megaphone has worked really hard to reach out to students. However, this is a two way street. If you have a problem with the writing or opinions in the Megaphone, it is your turn to take up the pen a paper. Write a response to the article, or better yet have YOUR opinions heard in the Megaphone.

    I am very proud of my paper and I hope they keep up the good work.

  15. Michael Bray says:

    As a faculty member, I’d just like to use this unfortunate article as an occasion to publicly express my long-held view, grounded in the data of experience, that Feminist Studies majors and minors are consistently amongst the most clear-minded, thoughtful, and motivated students that I have had the pleasure to teach at Southwestern over the last 8 years. So, if they are the victims of some academic delusion, it seems to be doing them a remarkable amount of good. And to the extent that they are made the targets of these kind of shrill and illogical dismissals and defenses of existing power dynamics (as well as other, more personal ones I know they sometimes face), well I wish them -and all of us-a better culture and I am grateful for their efforts to understand and change the culture we have.

    I am extraordinarily proud of the Feminist Studies program at this University, both its students and its faculty, and have the highest degree of respect for the important work they have done and continue to do. I thank them all for their courage, rigor and, indeed, their intellectual honesty.

  16. nicole l says:

    http://thefiendish.com/2009/11/why-feminism-is-a-synonym-of-humanism/

    another reason to stand up for ourselves, and another occasion we’re gonna do it. i understand that the writers of The Megaphone have a right to speak, and this is an exercise of our right to respond

  17. I came to this article accidentally, thanks to Nicole who pasted the link to the article I wrote. I would have to say that I do not agree with the author at all, and I am glad people have pretty much said what I would have wanted to say. However, here are a few things I would like to add:

    1. Feminism is NOT against men. It is against patriarchy which is against both men and women. If men think they are in a better position because of patriarchy, boy, are they fooled!

    2. I am a student of psychology and when we study psychology, we deal issues based on 3 factors: biological, psycho-social, and socio-cultural. Your twin studies, genetics, brain abnormalities etc come under biological factors of a mental disorder. However, you CANNOT ignore psycho-social and socio-cultural factors that contribute to our state of mind which directly implies that genetics alone DO NOT play a role in anything in our lives, though it has a share in the pie.

    3. Much of the gender differences that we see are due to psycho-social and socio-cultural factors. And most of these differences are exaggerated. When I say most, I do not mean ALL. There would certainly be a few differences. It is important to consider the similarities between genders instead of exaggerating the differences.

    4. Masculinist studies do exist, and they are closely linked to feminism. In fact, in India when you study Literature, you have a paper called gender studies which incorporates both feminist and masculinist studies. I am not aware of universities elsewhere.

    Feminism is not about excluding or alienating men. Feminist studies have helped not just women but also gay men, domestic violence against men (which is surprisingly prevalent, and men do not report violence perpetrated against them by women because it is not “manly”, which is another gift of patriarchy) children, crime, rape, unemployment, well lets say most human issues. Conclusion? Feminism is humanism.

  18. akizz says:

    What’s wrong with astrology?
    I’m going to get today’s newspaper right NOW and look up my horoscope.
    This stuff makes the world go round, folks.
    Astrology is where it’s at!!

  19. A Person says:

    A few of you who have posted comments so far had good points, but almost all of you chose to become emotional and mudsling rather than debate in a civilized fashion. The level of emotional response that this article elicited I think possibly shows that gender differences is an area of study that can often be ruled by emotional reactions of people. Which is somewhat unavoidable, since women have felt oppressed for so long, and rightly so, but I think it’s time to examine this.

    I think a lot of activist groups lately have the tendency to over-play their role as a victim of society. Which is not to say that women are not occasionally victimized, but if they were constantly victimized and oppressed by society as they sometimes seem to claim, then how could the highest echelons of academia accept feminism? I think the tendency to interpret honest questioning, such as McDermott’s, as sexist, is as dangerous as the censorship previously imposed on women.

    Perhaps McDermott wasn’t as educated on this matter as would be desirable, but the fact remains that most of you who commented here failed to address his point. His point was that men are predisposed toward certain activities, while women are predisposed toward others. This claim, in and of itself, is quite neutral. It does not suggest status inequality, nor does it imply that if a man does not feel predisposed to those activities as much, that he is somehow inferior. Rather, it simply suggests that we should recognize those differences. Like most parts of psychology, gendered behavior is probably a result of BOTH biology and social influences. In the end, that doesn’t mean that we should stop women from entering the workforce if they so desire, or that we should make fun of boys that display some feminine traits.

    I can’t help but think that all of the people who have responded so emotionally to this article have been wounded in the past by gender discrimination, or in the guys’ case, being called a “sissy”, which I am truly sorry for. But that does not mean that it is wrong to recognize gender differences. I think that both genders have unique yet wonderful things to offer the world, and that we should recognize that. And if one woman feels a little less feminine than the rest, or if one man feels a little less masculine, that’s okay. They aren’t less of a human being for it.

  20. A Person says:

    Wait, before you misinterpret my first paragraph, I did a typo. I really didn’t mean to say that women are oppressed “rightly so”. That was absolutely NOT what I intended to say.

  21. Brooke Arnold says:

    Claire said: “I know the Megaphone has worked really hard to reach out to students. However, this is a two way street. If you have a problem with the writing or opinions in the Megaphone, it is your turn to take up the pen a paper. Write a response to the article, or better yet have YOUR opinions heard in the Megaphone.”

    In response, I think it is extremely unfortunate that The Megaphone is deficient of writers and quality articles that everyone at Southwestern can be proud of. I wish that were not the case. Perhaps some announcements on Facebook or the Student list-serv could amend this situation? I keep hearing about this desperate need for writers since the controversy started and yet there are no public attempts to attract new ones. Many students don’t know that the Megaphone pays for writing, and advertising could be a great way to entice them.

    That said, I think it’s erroneous that those of us who do have an opinion are told we must write for the paper in order to express it. That’s just plain ridiculous.

    The Megaphone pays VERY little and for those of us, like myself, who are supporting themselves and financially independent NOT ENOUGH. Thus your argument is a classist one because it assumes that everyone who has an opinion should express it in the Megaphone while denying the fact that for many of us a minimum wage job of one to two articles a week isn’t going to pay our rent or bills. And therefore opinions – and the right to them – becomes a privilege that once again only people who are already financially privileged can have.

    I myself work three jobs and take five classes and yet I’m expected to write for the Megaphone just so my academic endeavors will not be attacked. That’s ridiculous. I had a lot of things that I would have liked to be doing this weekend other than defending myself, my community, and the issues that I care about. Instead, I had to spend Sunday afternoon defending my major on SU Radio. That’s fine and I’m willing to do it so our voices can be heard. But it robs me of valuable time of which I already have too little of. And apparently that’s still not enough. Other majors on this campus are allowed to be just students and yet Feminist Studies majors must do their school work while also being constantly expected to educate others, work as activists, and speak up in classes as dissenting voices. Quite frankly, it’s asking too much.

    How about we all just agree to be a little bit more respectful, informed, and empathetic in our choices and attitudes towards one other so this kind of controversy becomes a thing of the past.

  22. Brooke Arnold says:

    In response, I think it is extremely unfortunate that The Megaphone is deficient of writers and quality articles that everyone at Southwestern can be proud of. I wish that were not the case. Perhaps some announcements on Facebook or the Student list-serv could amend this situation? I keep hearing about this desperate need for writers since the controversy started and yet there are no public attempts to attract new ones. Many students don’t know that the Megaphone pays for writing, and advertising could be a great way to entice them.

    That said, I think it’s erroneous that those of us who do have an opinion are told we must write for the paper in order to express it. That’s just plain ridiculous.

    The Megaphone pays VERY little and for those of us, like myself, who are supporting themselves and financially independent NOT ENOUGH. Thus your argument is a classist one because it assumes that everyone who has an opinion should express it in the Megaphone while denying the fact that for many of us a minimum wage job of one to two articles a week isn’t going to pay our rent or bills. And therefore opinions – and the right to them – becomes a privilege that once again only people who are already financially privileged can have.

    I myself work three jobs and take five classes and yet I’m expected to write for the Megaphone just so my academic endeavors will not be attacked. That’s ridiculous. I had a lot of things that I would have liked to be doing this weekend other than defending myself, my community, and the issues that I care about. Instead, I had to spend Sunday afternoon defending my major on SU Radio. That’s fine and I’m willing to do it so our voices can be heard. But it robs me of valuable time of which I already have too little of. And apparently that’s still not enough. Other majors on this campus are allowed to be just students and yet Feminist Studies majors must do their school work while also being constantly expected to educate others, work as activists, and speak up in classes as dissenting voices. Quite frankly, it’s asking too much.

    How about we all just agree to be a little bit more respectful, informed, and empathetic in our choices and attitudes towards one other so this kind of controversy becomes a thing of the past.

  23. Lane S. Hill says:

    A classist argument? Are you kidding me?

    (Fun fact: Classist isn’t in Firefox’s built in dictionary, which comes from freedict.org)

    The Megaphone pays minimum wage for each article, which corresponds to two hours. In effect, you’re getting $12 bucks per article. Compared to other schools, such as TCU, you don’t get ANYTHING. Nada. Goose egg. Zip. Zero.

    In fact, before 2002 or so, Megaphone writers didn’t even get paid, anything.

    I think $12 for an article (and even more for 600+ word articles) is pretty decent, especially since it’s only takes a few hours to write one.

    Heck, compared to the position I have, the writers get paid better then I do as the Web Editor. I only get paid $20 per week, and that’s pretty constant.

    And believe it or not, you don’t have to work at the Megaphone to have or express an opinion. That’s putting words in the commenter mouth, and NO ONE is saying that and NO ONE is making that point.

    The Megaphone is a medium to express your opinion, which you don’t have to work for to express your opinion (which technically, you are doing now by commenting on the Megaphone website…other alternatives are writing a letter to the Editor). SU Radio is another medium to express your opinion. Hydra is yet another medium to express your opinion.

  24. David Bell says:

    I’m going to repost what I wrote in a note on Facebook. I feel like we need to consider the institutional pressures that the author may have been affected by and focus criticisms back on the institution (megaphone) that produced this work with McDermott.

    Alright, so, at worst this is all speculation. At best, it’s a second-hand account of the truth. I heard this from a friend who is a member of the megaphone staff who heard from a fellow staff member about a meeting they[ did not attend. So, take this with a grain of salt, I suppose. I believe it, but don’t take this much more seriously than if I were gossiping to you about it at a party.

    ———————————————-

    Apparently, contrary to popular belief, Ryan McDermott was specifically PROMPTED and commissioned by the megaphone to write an article about “bullshit majors at SU” and it was suggested that he write about feminist studies. This, within the megaphone, was explicitly framed as a tactic to attract attention and readership.

    So, with this in mind, I want to raise a few questions. How does this change the nature of the debate? Who is at fault here (or, rather, MOST at fault) McDermott or the Megaphone? What does this say about the legitimacy of the Megaphone as a source of campus news?

  25. Lane S. Hill says:

    David – as someone who was at this actual meeting, this did not happen. The commission was for “bullshit majors”, but put a lot more eloquently, and McDermott chose to write about feminist studies major on his own.

    McDermott is the type of person who asks me whether or not he received any death threats. He does not need any help being offensive.

    So, your speculation is completely and utterly wrong.

  26. Meg says:

    A person – the point of the article was not about inherient gender differences in the sense of men tend to be taller and able to lift more, etc. The article was about stating that feminism was a crap major, and the arguement of men being men and women being women was used to support this, albeit poorly. As well, the author does not use neutral examples, such as men can lift more because they are bigger, he says, and I quote, “If they weren’t, evolution never would have happened, girls would ask men for their number, and you’d see a hell of a lot more guys in a Bath and Body Works store.” That is neither neutral nor biologically based.

    And the criticism over the article was for the way it tried to assert feminist studies as a bogus field of study, which was addressed as the point of the article, not gender-differences. Yes, there are differences. And yes, they are socially-based, biologically-based, and other. The article did not discuss that in the least.

    You say that the victim card is played here, and I say that you’re playing the “you’re making it too big a deal” card. No one wins when you make a circular arguement like that.

    And perhaps the comments are personal, but that doesn’t negate what people are saying.

  27. Meg says:

    To “A Person” – the point of the article was not about inherient gender differences in the sense of men tend to be taller and able to lift more, etc. The article was about stating that feminism was a crap major, and the arguement of men being men and women being women was used to support this, albeit poorly. As well, the author does not use neutral examples, such as men can lift more because they are bigger, he says, and I quote, “If they weren’t, evolution never would have happened, girls would ask men for their number, and you’d see a hell of a lot more guys in a Bath and Body Works store.” That is neither neutral nor biologically based.

    And the criticism over the article was for the way it tried to assert feminist studies as a bogus field of study, which was addressed as the point of the article, not gender-differences. Yes, there are differences. And yes, they are socially-based, biologically-based, and other. The article did not discuss that in the least.

    You say that the victim card is played here, and I say that you’re playing the “you’re making it too big a deal” card. No one wins when you make a circular arguement like that.

    And perhaps the comments are personal, but that doesn’t negate what people are saying.

  28. Remington Robertson says:

    A few comments I’d like to make, amidst all of the discussion here and around campus.

    [1] It is my belief that the Megaphone as a publication and a student organization should not receive criticism from this article.
    (a) The article was an opinion, which as we all know, does not necessarily reflect any other Megaphone-employee’s views. If this opinion article was censored (that is, not published based upon a certain bias from a certain person or people), then the institutionalization of a liberal arts education and community would be undermined. Free opinions, free to publish. I do not agree with McDermont’s views, but that does not mean that the Megaphone and its staff should be associated with his views.
    (b) Secondly, the ‘pitched article idea’ was indeed, as Lane Hill pointed out, for “bullshit majors.” I hope you understand this, David (“Apparently, contrary to popular belief, Ryan McDermott was specifically PROMPTED and commissioned by the megaphone to write an article about “bullshit majors at SU” and it was suggested that he write about feminist studies. This, within the megaphone, was explicitly framed as a tactic to attract attention and readership”). I, as part of the Megaphone staff, was at the meeting that this occurred; McDermott took the article idea (“bullshit majors”) and wrote it in his own opinion (“Fem Studies”), which he has the full right to do, since it is an opinion article.
    [2] To those concerned with the volunteer-based Megaphone: the minimum wage earnings from writing an article is in no way support for paying rent, utilities, food, etc. It is used as an incentive to spur volunteerism. In our day it’s pretty remarkable SU pays writers for the Megaphone. This miscommunication occurred when some people have suggested “don’t blog it, write for the Megaphone.” I think McDermott’s article has done a lot for the University in that it has provided discussion and, at least, provided a widespread revival of discussing the topic “What is Feminist Theory?” to the school. (While I’m a Feminist and consider SU to be very feminist-orientated, I am continually surprised by the negligence of some people. Thus, McDermott’s article may have allowed some people to engage Feminist Theory who previously hadn’t). Additionally, I do not agree with the person(s) who have argued for people to “write not blog.” The social networking sites are unbelievable in their ability to transfer information from person to person and the controversy over this article ought to be recognized by more people than those who just pick up the paper, are Feminists or Fem Majors, etc. I think that blogging and writing are very efficient ways to spreading opinions if people have them. In short, the Megaphone ought not to be persecuted as a whole, and critics ought not to be criticized because they do not write for the Megaphone.

  29. Remington Robertson says:

    [3] And yes, a few comments about the article itself.

    (a) Comparing anything to witchcraft or astrology, especially a major, is asking for hate mail. A bad call.

    (b) I must agree, as a philosophy major, that a feminist studies major is highly non-applicable in job placements. I’m not saying it’s impossible or even worthless (quite the opposite!), but it is realistic that a FS major has a more narrowed selection of job placements after completing an undergraduate degree. But McDermott went a little too far: he compares the actual study as, frankly, bullshit.

    (c) “You can cavil all you want with facts, but the only thing that will make them disappear is a rubber eraser. Read the data and you will see that gender roles are the results of inherent biological tendencies just like everything in society is” – Gender roles are not inherent biological results. Sexual differences are biological. Sexual differences do not 100% follow a male-female disjunctive binary, either. There are a lot of different types of sexes that are inherently biological – some have three sex chromosomes. Gender “roles” are societally constructed, and if you were trying to argue that gender or societal constructions/roles are biologically determined, you didn’t express that.

    (d) “What’s wrong with the “study” altogether is that its practitioners use silly academic fluff like postmodernism, post-structuralism and psychoanalysis in an ineffective attempt to substantiate their prevailing notions that gender does not exist. It’s too bad that gender isn’t as much of a social construct as something like an economic system, but that’s just not the case”
    – Actually Freud used psychoanalysis as a ‘science’ for the Oedipal complex, which described the societal roles of sexes (gender roles) as naturally biological. Fortunately, Feminist Theory was in response to Freud’s psychoanalysis, and thus it played in the same field. However, postmodernism and poststructuralism are paradigms or movements that encompassed Feminist Theory in a larger role. The same “biological” argument you are trying to use was used by Freud in “fluffy” psychoanalysis. Read some Foucault, Deleuze, Iragaray, as well as Freud’s Three Essays on Sexuality, which has some footnotes about the difference between biological and social constructions.

    (e) Third-Wave Feminism encompasses intersectionality, which is basically what Array said (“Feminism deals with a lot of issues apart from gender, like sexuality, class, race, what some people consider disability, etc.”). The movement is showing how gender roles are connected to other assemblages of power within societies. This is not “fluffy” because it deals with theory. Look at the USA’s welfare laws; they are aimed specifically at getting single mothers married in order to get them off of welfare. If you’re wanting statistics or what some might call hard evidence, Feminism has it. While theories change, they are put side by side with evidence from modern society. Feminism is much, much more than people (males and females I would like to stress) sitting around proclaiming that gender roles are arbitrary.

  30. Remington Robertson says:

    [4] We’re all fairly intelligent people here, and ad hominem attacks or slander ought not to be appreciated by anyone who is seriously concerned with discussing this article. I have no disrespect for McDermott – I have a critical opinion of the article he wrote. Let’s be grown-ups.

  31. Brooke Arnold says:

    Fun fact: it’s in Merriam-Webster. It’s the adjectival form of classism.

    Let’s not even play that game, please.

  32. Lily says:

    1) It’s highly problematic that you denounce the predominantly female feminist responses to Mr. McDermott’s article as “emotional”–repeatedly–seeing as, in a private conversation with the Mr. McDermott, he expressed the view that women are more “empathetic” and “emotional” than men. When he personally insults the members of an entire department and the outraged reaction of said department’s members is dismissed as “emotional,” the gender dynamics at play are unfortunate, to say the least–it implies that even a patently irrational argument like Mr. McDermott’s is considered reasonable when a male makes it, but responses that are no more flippant when made by women are fobbed off as irrational. Furthermore, calling the author “uninformed” is hardly the equivalent of calling our academic discipline “witchcraft” and a Fem Studies degree “a worthless piece of paper passing for a ‘degree.'”
    This comment seems to assume that oppression, by and large, is a thing of the past. It’s not–it’s just more subtle than it used to be. Sexism is still quite pervasive–while the “highest echelons of academia” may accept feminism (SU, by the way, has only one professor who only teaches Fem Studies), the “highest echelons” of society do not. The largest church in the country doesn’t ordain women. We have never had a female president, vice president, or SC chief justice. Nine out of ten Senators are male. Women make 76 cents for every dollar men make for the same work. Additionally, if the oppressed aren’t “victims of society,” who are they “victims” of? Themselves? Did Queerfolk, for example, choose their exclusion from public life and institutions, or are they just “playing the victim?”
    Also, there’s a difference between “honest questioning” and childish, petty, sophomoric ad hominems (astrology, witchcraft, pseudointellectual fluff, worthless piece of paper, etc.).
    Mr. McDermott’s claims aren’t neutral at all. Sexism doesn’t stop at hierarchy and supremacy–it also includes gender essentialism, which says that certain activities are “male” and others are “female.” As long as you have the notion that there are genetically-based gender predispositions, then you lay the groundwork for limitations to certain roles based on gender at the very least–more likely, you have not only gender roles, but the valuation of certain roles over others, and before you know it you have full-fledged patri(or matri-)archy.
    Finally, you contradict yourself when you say that gender-variant men and women “aren’t less of a human being for it” if you think we should recognize (and thus legitimize and implicitly encourage) gender differences. No one fits the mold. What about the men who are more than “a little” less masculine and the women who are more than “a little” less feminine? Pretending that gender roles are inherent–gender essentialism, in other words–will inevitably lead to scolding “sissies” and “tomboys.”
    One last note–you refer to “both genders.” What about those of us who don’t fit into the gender binary at all? I refer not to male or female identified trans people like myself (at least not exclusively), but rather to intersex, third gender, two spirited, and genderqueer individuals.

  33. Lily says:

    No one seems to be pointing out exactly how Mr. McDermott’s claims about the science of gender are incorrect.
    First, science exists not in a vacuum, but in a specific cultural time and place. For example, the measurements of proto-human skulls are no different now than they were in the 19th century–but because of the cultural context, they were used to support “five races” theory then, which is today recognized as pseudoscientific apology for white supremacy.
    The science of gender is the same way–in a culture that presupposes two categories, male and female, existing in a binary “and never the twain shall meet,” then the science of such a culture will force the data to conform to that, and will label anyone who doesn’t fit into that binary as (to use the word that Mr. McDermott used to describe me to my face) a “biological anomaly.”
    When one looks at the current state of the science, though, one realizes that Mr. McDermott’s claim that gender is genetically based is false.
    Physical sex is not determined by genes, it’s determined by hormones. Intersex and transgender individuals are proof of that–my female identity is a result not of my Y-chromosome but of the unpredictable patterns of estrogen and testosterone to which my fetus was exposed. This is also true of cis individuals–while genes provide the blueprint for hormones, they are not always followed to the letter.
    Prepubescent cis males and females have identical secondary sex characteristics. Their primary sex characteristics were determined not by genes but by prenatal hormones–all fetuses start out female, but if a y-chromosome activates the testosterone rush, then the hormones masculinize the developing body.
    Secondary sex characteristics also are the results of hormones–the estrogen released from the ovaries and other glands, and the testosterone released from the testes (among other glands as well). Again, genes no longer play a role–only hormones.
    Why is this a salient point? Because everyone has both testosterone and estrogen. The proportions vary from individual to individual within sex categories (which are socially constructed, by the way–the existence of the gender diverse, who are not allowed for by the gender binary, is proof enough of this) more than they vary between them (as in most cases within psychology, “differences within groups are greater than differences between groups”). Thus, no one–not even the most feminine straight cisgender housewife or the butchest, straightest, cisgender, male steelworker–is “purely” male or female. We’re all a little bit of both, purely in terms of physical sex–and the fact that most people predominantly lean towards one pole or the other doesn’t mean that the two poles are distinct categories to which everyone except for us “biological anomalies” must conform to, with social consequences.

  34. Alex H. says:

    It’s weird that I took the photo for this article when it stood as a “bullshit majors” photo. I took a photo of an art major who thought that the article concept was funny and totally relevant.

    Not only was this photo not used, but the article’s slant was nearly entirely changed to an opinion I’m not sure anyone (including myself) supports.

    Le sigh.

  35. albert bui says:

    anyone see the finale of Mad Men? OMG–

  36. Patrick says:

    The Megaphone printing this is not the issue. The Megaphone not requiring him to name these studies and ‘facts’ he references. I can tolerate ignorance, but not bad journalism.

  37. Brodie Reynolds says:

    As a former Feminist Studies major of 2006, I would like to point out something important: I am doing just fine. I just got my Masters in Women’s Studies. Oh, and I am a man, which kind of craps on all the pathetic and fear-based perspectives that gender is fundamental, blah blah blah, and so on in that inane trajectory.

    Thank you to Dr. Bray and all the other intelligent and beautiful people who responded to this violent article. The Feminist Studies major changed my life, and offered me profound and exciting opportunities and ways of thinking that have fostered the most honest, deep, lasting relationships that I could have had. Feminist work, academic or not, is vital for the growth of our culture, and crude ignorance like that just smeared across the Megaphone, though nothing new, simply is there to reinforce those powers that have been what feminism has always fought.

    And Albert, no I have not, but I hope to soon!

  38. Sean says:

    This author is such a fucking tool. Bro, do you know how tired and pathetic this line of reasoning is? I mean if you’re going to be controversial at least pick something that hasn’t been said thousands of times by random, forgetable, undergrad males since the women’s movement began. I mean, all the majors in the university and, seriously, this is what you pick? Cliched mysogyny parading as clever observations? Your politics are totally odious–as is your understanding of women’s studies, gender, the science of sex–but all the folks above seem to be taking the proper piss on you for that: I’d just like to add that this was by far the easiest choice because it is such a tired, inane argument. I wouldn’t be surprised if there isn’t an automated program that could generate this tripe by now. It shows that you are not half of the writer you imagine yourself to be. You, my good sir, are a banal excuse for a rabble rouser. Why not pick something like business or economics–something that no one in the dominant culture would pick on as a bullshit major (even though they are rife with far more unexamined adages and useless intellectual onanism than women’s studies will ever be.) That would have been clever and insightful; it would have shown that you have a pair and that the brain hanging between them wasn’t the only one you engage when you sit in front of your keyboard to peck out your pitiful rantings. It would have shown that you are actually capable of deep, critical thinking rather than simply demonstrating the ability to transcribe something a oafish troglodyte of a man would gurgle to his lonely companions after a night of sad, sad drinking. I know that popular culture continues to give you few clues as to how you might otherwise display your masculine plumage, but the last time I checked being able to concoct a Judd Apatow monologue didn’t require a college education. If your goal is to be able to make teenage boys snicker, you’re wasting your parents money: any idiot with a whoopie coushin can do that. Otherwise, you’re going to need to really bone up if you think you have a future as an opinion writer. Right now, I’m just surprised that this is the best Southwestern can come up with: the alumni office will not be getting my check anytime soon if this is the highest level of talent they can produce. You can get this bullshit on The Man Show.

  39. antichrist says:

    I love ignorance

  40. antichrist says:

    Ya’ll need to worry more about getting or creating jobs

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