by Joyous Goddess, republished with permission
I’m unsure what feelings and images those two words conjure deep in your being?
For me, it’s the power, strength, and sacredness of the feminine; the creation of balanced and beautiful relationships with men and women; sacred union; conscious birth, mothering, grand-mothering; the menstrual cycle; fertility; study of archetypes and Goddesses; the tales and practices of our ancestors; the seasons; the elements; nutrition and herbal medicine; stages of life such as maiden, mother, crone; death and rebirth; and the protection of our precious Earth.
That’s what the study of women means to me. It speaks to our innateness, our deep-seated capacity for creation. It’s powerful, magical, and mysterious — just like we are.
It’s an understatement to say I was shocked to discover what modern day Women’s Studies (also known as Gender, Sexuality, Feminist, or Social Justice Studies) courses verily teach. I had journeyed for six months, searching for sisters yearning to share openly about the intrinsic nature of women, the beauty of our strength, the potency of healing as a collective. I found a sprinkling of precious diamonds who I now hold close, but mostly I found overwhelming anger, a victim mentality, and buzzwords — lots of buzzwords.
At first I didn’t understand. How could their experience of the world differ so jarringly from mine? I am aware we all see life from a different viewing platform, indeed, this is one of the beauties of life; yet I wasn’t prepared for the onslaught of viciously held opinions, spoken as fact, with programming spewing forth verbatim from a variety of women — as though they were merely clones. I thought more of them. I was bereft.
What world were they seeing? It was a dark, divided world of oppression, danger, toxic men, expletives, and a double dose of victimisation.
I could not, did not understand.
Slowly the pieces came together. It was as though I needed to see it play out for myself, with myself — the minutiae, the convolution, the acceptable ideology. I was eager to partake in conversations yet the more I sought to understand, the more I was slain for asking questions. Questions were unacceptable; a cause for offence, nothing else. A story not up for questioning. I was simply in awe of what I was watching transpire. And then it dawned on me.
The narrative was so cohesive — so oppugnant to mine, yet so celebrated by others — that it had to have been learned. It was not birthed from personal experience, it had come from handbook or theory. The common denominator was: Women’s Studies.
Anecdotes of personal experiences were real, yet had been shaped, viewed through a narrow, totalitarian lens, and further strengthened by confirmation bias. I was watching the Baader-Meinhof phenomenon unfold, where two psychological processes work together and a concept or thing one just found out about suddenly seems to crop up everywhere.
Those in front of me were ideologically possessed.
The first, selective attention, kicks in when you’re struck by a new word, thing, or idea; after that, you unconsciously keep an eye out for it, and as a result find it surprisingly often.
The second process, confirmation bias, reassures you that each sighting is further proof of your impression that the thing has gained overnight omnipresence.
This explains why one woman may feel flattered if a man were to smile at her, whilst another will be offended, swear at him, and view him as a threat.
Our worldview is moulded by those we spend our time with, the media we absorb, our parents, childhood and schooling — and it is pliable. We can easily shift our perspective by taking in other perspectives. It assists us to gain a broader worldview, rich with other experiences. However, we are not encouraged to do this, else it lead us to a state of cognitive dissonance, where we feel uncomfortable by holding two differing beliefs at the same time. Mostly we just stick to one.
So, if Women’s Studies doesn’t really study women in the incredible and useful manner I had imagined, what does it teach?
I was sorely misguided. Women’s Studies, birthed in 1970 in America, is better known as the academic feminist movement. It came at a time when American women struggled for equal access to higher education. Women’s Studies curriculums have always applied a post-modern approach to understanding gender via “intersectionality” with sexuality, gender, race, class, ethnicity, etc.
I combed the curriculum of various modern Women’s Studies courses to garner the following commonalities, ideologies, and premises taught within. Across the board, the syllabi include lots of theory about theory, a great quantity of jargon, political debate, and arguments. They are all very similar in their approach, in which they:
Teach Feminist Ideology
Being interested in Women’s Studies assumes one is also interested in feminism, after all, those who don’t support feminism are all oppressive, right?
Students must study view the world through a feminist lens, and must align with feminism (well, at least they will by the end of the course — this is the raison d ‘ être).
This course is from the University of New South Wales, Australia:
The course…provides a good introduction both to feminist history and to feminist interdisciplinary scholarship: that is, to ‘gender’ and other forms of feminist analysis. It ranges from ancient times to the present, focusing particularly on social constructions of gender (which are, at base, social expectations of ‘proper’ feminine and masculine roles, behaviour and identities) while also investigating how these expectations have affected women’s status, male-female power relations and normative and transgressive sexual practices. [emphasis mine] (source)
This from the University of Maryland, USA:
Feminist Reconceptualizations of Knowledge, Feminist Pedagogy, Feminist Analysis of the Workplace, Theories of Feminism [emphasis mine] (source)
And this, Oxford University, UK:
…a systematic introduction to feminist theory, and enables you to gain the skills necessary to engage in original research into topics in the humanities relating to women and to gender… [emphasis mine] (source)
Apply Critical Theory
Critical Theory pervades modern Western academia — whiteness studies, gender studies, transgender studies. It is based on language, symbolism, communication, and social construction. It is defined not by what it stands for, but by what it stands against.
“What is the theory?…The theory is to criticise. Through unremitting, destructive criticism of every institution of Western society, they hope to bring that society down.” William Lind
The pervasiveness of Critical Theory explains the ceaseless defamation of Western Culture by Gender Studies students, and the continual desire to fragment the community into ever-oppressed minorities and their tormentors. According to proponents, this is a fabulous thing; yet for detractors it is viewed as highly damaging. (It is, after all, just a theory, like most of the social “sciences”).
Critical theory emerged out of the Marxist tradition and it was developed by a group of sociologists at the University of Frankfurt in Germany who referred to themselves as The Frankfurt School. (source)
Today, Critical Theory has developed into “Cultural Marxism”; which seeks to question every aspect of a person’s identity; to a point where every norm or standard in society is challenged and ideally altered, supposedly to benefit oppressed groups. Classical Marxism historically divided society economically into the bourgeoise and the proletariat. Cultural Marxism divides society culturally into the oppressor (or privileged) and the oppressed (or under-privileged).
We can recognize critical theory today in many feminist theories and feminist approaches to conducting social science, in critical race theory, cultural theory, in gender and queer theory, and in media theory and media studies. (source)
Cultural Marxism/Critical Theory also birthed Political Correctness. One of the major dangers of Cultural Marxism/Critical Theory/Political Correctness is the inability for others to question any aspect of it, else they are immediately labelled “the oppressor”. This has been part of its success in spreading so rapidly throughout Western academia and society.
Here’s how you play the “PC Game”, as told by Jordan Peterson:
First, you identify a domain of human endeavor. It could be the wealth of people within a society. It could be the psychological well-being of individuals within a given organization. It could be the prowess of school children at a particular sport.
Second, you note the inevitable continuum of success. Some people are richer or happier than others. Some children are better at playing volleyball.
Third, you define those doing comparatively better as oppressors of those doing comparatively worse.
Fourth, and finally, you declare solidarity with the latter, and enmity for the former (now all-too-convenient targets for your resentment and hatred).
Highlight oppression and encourage victim mentality
Due to their basis in Critical Theory, Women’s Studies courses highlight the overtly oppressive nature of our modern life, dividing society into 2 camps: the oppressor and the oppressed.
In this course, we will investigate gender-based oppression and its relationship to other forms of oppression, and we will explore the many ways that we might understand and deal with the reality of oppression in our world…Oppression is interlocking and pervasive and exists in many forms: sexism, racism, heterosexism, classism, and ableism, to name just a few. [emphasis mine] (source)
This study of multiple areas is also known as intersectionality, a definition coined by Kimberle Crenshaw in 1989. Highlighting oppression does more than point out the perpetrator; it also absolves the victim of responsibility, making it easier to blame others for the situation than undertake the effort required to change it.
The road to victory now isn’t to be the most intelligent, the strongest, logical, or emotionally adept. The road to victory is now paved by shaming others into submission or having them forfeit.
Victim mentality is a tricky role to relinquish, because for many, when they lose their victim status, they lose their identity.
Note this anecdote from a self-defined ex “social justice warrior” (SJW):
Yes. There is this whole victim mentality that the SJW all (or mostly have). If you feel like a victim, you are going to act like a victim. You get angry at those ‘oppressing’ you, and your beliefs are confirmed when the ‘oppressors’ get angry. You don’t realise that the way you’re acting actually makes them angry because they didn’t necessarily do anything wrong. This fucked up spiral of anger is why I was an SJW, and I lashed out at anyone because I believed if I didn’t, they would ‘oppress’ me. But once you learn that being kind to people makes them more willing to listen, you start doing that, and that is when the whole ideology falls apart.
“Working together” with others, particularly if of a different race, sex, or sexual orientation — those labelled “the oppressor” — is often vehemently refused. If someone in an oppressed group disagrees with the view they are oppressed, they are spoken over and their viewpoint is unwelcome. e.g. If a woman speaks up in defence of a man, she has “internalised misogyny”.
In SJW world, all minorities are always victims, and anyone who says, “I’m not a victim,” or “There a more sides to this than you think,” is not aware of how oppressed they really are, and it is therefore the duty of fellow ‘victims’ to ‘defend’ them. It also gives you a bullshit reason to be proud of yourself, and feel good even if your [sic] acting like a shit-bag. (source)
In one interaction with a woman in which I dared suggest people of different colours unite to work towards solutions, I was told people of colour “don’t have any duty to work with white people.” I agree. No one has a duty to do anything in this life; though co-operating mostly helps us learn from one another, see other perspectives, and assists with reaching our desired conclusion quicker and on amenable terms. This is how it works in my life, anyway. It’s called community.
Another dangerous ramification of this enactment of Critical Theory is that others in need, particularly if they are within segments of society labelled as “oppressors” — such as men, able-bodied, or heterosexual people — are shut down, vilified, and treated pejoratively. They are essentially silenced, disallowed from sharing their voice, their pain, because they are not in a minority or considered oppressed. Only victims are entitled to a voice.
New definitions are introduced in sociology textbooks, such as for “racism”. According to the Oxford Dictionary, racism means “prejudice, discrimination, or antagonism directed against someone of a different race based on the belief that one’s own race is superior.” Everyone I know believes this to be the definition. Feminists and “social justice warriors” believe differently.
According to them:
Racism is prejudice + power; in other words, it is an institutionalized form of discrimination deeply embedded in a society that provides one racial group with the power to act out their prejudice through systematic oppression of other racial groups.
When this redefinition is questioned, feminists respond that the dictionary cannot be used as a source because it “is, in and of itself, an oppressive force” and it was created by a white male (most likely because the English language is, ahem, Anglo-Saxon). No, I’m not joking. I truly wish I was.
“There is no such thing as reverse racism or reverse sexism (or the reverse of any form of oppression). White women can be just as prejudiced as men, women cannot be ‘just as sexist as men’ because they do not hold political, economic, and institutional power.” Is Everyone Really Equal?: An Introduction to Key Concepts in Social Justice Education, Özlem Sensoy, Robin J. DiAngelo
The redefinition of words seeks to alter cultural norms, in this case, the goal is to redefine “institutional racism” as “racism” to make the case that only white people can ever be racist. Far from reducing the amount of racism in society, this action further divides, causes minorities to absolve themselves of responsibility, blame others, and further distances them from the “oppressor”.
(On another note, isn’t it racist to suggest that only white people can be racist?)
Use neologisms to shift the normative
People who are not transgender are now being labelled by these communities as “cisgender”. The word transgender, when introduced, was used to describe people who cross over traditional gender roles. There was no need for a term to describe “cisgender” people. The previous word which described such people was: “normal”. Normal has been shunned due to political correctness and “because the act of creating a norm is oppressive.”
There are numerous other neologisms used in this arena, such as “gender-fluid”, “cisplaining”, “reverse racism”, and “microaggression”. Often, (as in the case with “mansplaining” or “manboys”) these terms are used pejoratively in relation to the “oppressor”; routinely to demean them in certain (usually public) situations. It is often noted that if the genders were reversed in such situations, women would find these comments offensive. Yet most feminists often work with double standards, so it’s ok.
Dissolve genders in favour of a spectrum
The introduction of new words and/or definitions such as gender identity, gender expression, and biological sex have created a world where nothing is “normal”, and to be rebellious and “free” one needs to choose something else, such as sexual androgyny or genderqueer. We are now moving forward with such velocity, even a “gender spectrum” is now considered offensive. See here.
Due to the desire to see frame everything as a social construct, even biology is refuted in favour of the infinite malleability of the postmodern idea of “gender”. We can now choose what we are. All previous definitions of words are favoured for the social justice warrior’s alternative. Increasingly obscure “genders” are celebrated under the guise of “inclusivity”.
The introduction of this spectrum of genders has created a minefield of issues within workplaces and the community. Facebook now recognises at least 58 genders.
Recognition (and respect) is one thing; legislation is another.
The New York City Commission on Human Rights has discrimination laws which determine “mis-gendering” an offence. Canada has followed suit. If employers, landlords, business owners, and the general public of New York City violate the law on the basis of gender identity and expression (such as the misuse of newly constructed gender pronouns such as zie/hir, ey/em/eir and co) they face a fine of up to $250,000. Proponents of these neologisms state they are necessary as pronouns in the English language are gendered. We do, however already have a gender neutral pronoun: it.
“it: used to represent a person or animal understood, previously mentioned, or about to be mentioned whose gender is unknown or disregarded.”
Those who cry out with disgust at the notion of using “it” — stating the term is dehumanising — may like to research how the gay community successfully transmuted the word “queer” from pejorative to celebrated.
Jordan Peterson asks pertinent questions of the mis-gendering legislation:
Are the denizens of New York now legally required to employ a new pronoun for each of these many identities? How are they supposed to keep track of who’s who? And who is going to distinguish between mistakes and criminal action or intent?
He vehemently opposes laws that mandate the use of politically-approved words and phrases, deducing this legislation as an attack on free speech:
To identify problems, solve them, and reach consensus, we have to do it foolishly. We have to mis-speak, and over-react, and engage badly in intense verbal conflict. We have to be tested and corrected by others. All of that requires legal protection.
People become upset by differences of opinion, and want them suppressed. And it’s no wonder. But the alternative is worse.
Without free speech, we cannot explore our ever-transforming territories, orient ourselves, and get to the point. Without freedom of speech, we will not talk — and we will not think. And then we will have real conflict, with all of its horrors, instead of its abstracted equivalent.
Peterson also notes he has received feedback from at least 25 transgender people in relation to the legislation. All bar one were positive in their correspondence, stating they feel it will further divide the community and that they simply want to be called by the OTHER pronoun (not a gender-neutral one).
Violence — Women and girls are targetted specifically
Students are taught the western world is overwhelmingly stacked against women and girls, and is inherently violent.
Students will explore how factors such as power, patriarchy, socialization, culture, religion, and gender, for example, intermingle to create cultures that perpetuate violence across the world and specifically most often target girls and women. [emphasis mine] (source)
The concept of “patriarchy”, central to feminist theory, is used to describe a systemic bias towards men. Second-wave feminists defined it in the late 1960’s as “a system of social structures, and practices in which men dominate, oppress and exploit women.” More recently, it has been defined by Women’s Studies courses as:
patriarchy/patriarchal: social organization favoring males on every level; rule by men. (source)
Patriarchy is a central tenet of feminist philosophy because it provides a strategic and political basis to describe “the totality of oppressive and exploitative relations which affect women…as well as their systemic character.” A woman’s fight is not against individual men; rather the problem is society itself. Thus women must do everything in their power to bring it down or escape from its clutches (and move towards Marxism.) Every facet of life — whether marriage, law, housework, or other areas — can be seen as a creation of the patriarchy.
Yet, this “image of a global sisterhood struggling against a global patriarchy obscures the real power that women of racial, economic, or national privilege hold over other women and men.”
Which is why I cry foul when women play the hapless victim card.
In short, Women’s Studies, Gender Studies, Social Justice Studies and the like are a front for the rollout of a very dangerous agenda. Instead of being inspired by wisdom from her elders and the richness of her being, the typical woman who graduates a Women’s Studies course will believe:
She is a hapless victim of a society ruled by men. She is oppressed at every turn. To be free she must dissolve all evidence of her femininity in favour of being whatever she wants to be.
She will defy gender roles, seethe with righteous anger, and criticise everyone around her unless they conform to the same views as she.
She will seek to free women, but her very actions will enslave them.
She will be engineered, not empowered.
She will be pitiful, not powerful.
She will be mind-controlled, not mysterious.
Worst of all, she will be ravaged by fear. She will not realise her power, her beauty, her magic. She will believe her freedom lies in the hands of others, a dangerous notion for a woman to cling to.
Every self-realised woman knows her power lies within. It is not man who is the enemy. It is not femininity that is the enemy. It is not class, or colour, or sexual persuasion. It is the divide and conquer narrative that wounds us. And it is union that will free us all.
Featured Image: Charlotte Cooper
About the Author
Joyous Goddess is a writer of women’s wisdom. She dishes out tough love in order to bring lightness into the darkness. You can find her writing and poetry on Medium, or connect on Facebook and Instagram.