|NUMBER 310||THE NEWSPAPER OF EDUCATION RIGHTS||NOVEMBER 2011|
|College Textbook Reveals Radical Feminist Agenda|
Has radical feminism permeated institutions of higher education to the point of unconditional acceptance? In some college courses the controversial social and political agendas of feminism are being unashamedly pushed, while opposing viewpoints are censored.
The University of Missouri-St. Louis has just such a course called "Women and Gender Studies." The university website reveals that the instructor of this course, Kathleen Nigro, Ph.D., also teaches a course called "Feminism and Witchcraft." The textbook that Dr. Nigro chose for the women and gender studies course is called, Women's Voices, Feminist Visions: Classic and Contemporary Readings, 5th Edition, by Susan M. Shaw and Janet Lee (McGraw-Hill, 2011).
In an attempt to explain why feminism plays such a large role in a course on women's studies, the authors assert that women have feminism to thank for their modern way of life. They simplistically and inaccurately credit feminism with giving women the right to vote, the ability to work outside the home, go to college, and play sports.
"A Day Without Feminism," an essay by Jennifer Baumgardner and Amy Richards, sets forth a typical woman's life in 1970, in which familial norms and societal protections of women are presented as unacceptable horrors of inequality. The view that feminism saved women from unspeakable oppression remains unchallenged throughout the book.
Another article, "Still Needing the F Word," by Anna Quindlen, explains the work feminism has left to do in liberating women. Apparently, even though feminism has done so much for them, women today may feel pressure to perform to men's standards in the workplace even more than they did as housewives.
The authors claim that being male is a privileged status, just as being white or heterosexual. Students are encouraged to recognize that these "privileges" exist, understand how privileged classes suppress non-privileged people, and accept responsibility for the problem.
The authors assert that gender is much more complicated than was traditionally taught. In their worldview, the roles of male or female are merely learned behaviors people act out to conform to social constraints. True gender has more to do with the way you feel about yourself than your assigned gender at birth. The authors encourage students to take action on the issue by cross-dressing for a day, or by looking for ways masculinity is valued over femininity on their campus.
In "The Five Sexes Revisited," by Anne Fausto-Sterling, students learn that the oversimplified classification of male or female is out of touch with reality and that some people, like transsexuals, "have an emotional gender at odds with their physical sex." According to her, "A chromosomal, hormonal and genital male (or female) may emerge with a female (or male) gender identity."
Fausto-Sterling even suggests that gender should be removed from official documents such as driver's licenses to protect transgender rights. There is no suggestion that ignoring objective gender may be detrimental to society or to gender-confused individuals.
Bi-sexuality and trans-sexuality are presented as normal and common through personal stories of adults who have changed their gender, and stories of parents whose child was born one gender but who wanted to be another. In the latter case, parents who sought help were advised by a therapist to allow the child to decide for him/herself.
Pure heterosexuality, the book explains, only exists because of socially imposed norms and homophobia. Neither nature nor morality come into play. Students are encouraged to organize a National Coming Out Day celebration on their campus to push back against social impositions.
A couple of articles discuss how common it is for women in particular to be bisexual. Limiting sexuality to simply gay or straight denies the true plasticity of human sexuality. "A World of Difference," by Leila Rupp, describes the way women overcome heterosexual "constraints" in diverse countries and have found may ways to express their nontraditional "love."
A chapter on reproductive rights briefly states the pro-life argument but concentrates on women's right to choose. The chapter suggests a list of ten things students can do to protect choice, but no encouragement is given to a student who may want to protect life. A couple of articles describe the horror pregnant women experienced trying to get an abortion when it was illegal or socially unacceptable, promoting the idea that legalizing abortion was a great leap for women's health.
The authors expose the "deceptive tactics" of Crisis Pregnancy Centers who are accused of misleading women into thinking that abortion is unsafe. No credibility is given to the argument that a fetus may be a person with the right to life.
Although the traditional model of the family is explained in the chapter on family systems, it is presented as only one of many forms a family can take. The authors state that "traditional myths about the normative family hide the reality of the wide diversity of family life." One reading argues that homosexual couples have just as much right as heterosexual couples to have and raise children and that no harm will come to the children as a result of being raised in a homosexual family.
Echoing the views of Betty Friedan in her book The Feminine Mystique, another reading claims that marriage is just an economic system in which women are made to be dependent on their husbands. One essay urges women to go to work every day even if they have young children because they will need to support themselves in the event of divorce.
The authors applaud no-fault divorce for freeing women from the constraints of traditional marriage. Feminists have also succeeded in forcing other taxpayers to solve the problems that divorce creates. Women can now relegate the care and education of their children to the state so that they are free to work. Husbands are no longer necessary to provide the family with income.
The chapter on women's work describes how unfair life has been for women in the past who have had to do all the housework and weren't allowed to work outside the home. That men and women traditionally hold different types of jobs is said to be a function of sexism.
The authors deny any difference in the priorities and interests of men and women. They also refuse to acknowledge the strengths and weaknesses of the sexes when it comes to jobs such as law enforcement. They want government to force feminist ideology by requiring affirmative action to protect women from the commonsense and "unfair" consequences of the free market system.
In "The Strange Relationship Between Feminism and Sex Work," sex worker activist Carol Leigh explains that some feminists view prostitution and sex work as violence against women while others advocate labor rights for sex workers. The latter believe that any problems associated with prostitution are really just problems of poverty and violence, not sex work itself.
It comes as no surprise that this textbook doesn't have anything positive to say about Christianity, which is in opposition to many feminist ideas promulgated in the text, including abortion. Judaism is also presented unfavorably as having silenced women for generations.
Ironically, an article on Islam is the only article that gives religion a favorable review in light of feminism. The article claims that Islam's effect on women has been very positive. The author asserts that Islam in itself is actually good for women, and that it is only through misinterpretation of the teachings of Muhammad that women have been badly treated.
Women's Voices, Feminist Visions is a textbook that has a clear political agenda. As seen through the text, the suggested activities for students, and the carefully selected readings, there is no room for any idea that strays from radical feminist ideology.