DE April 27

| 6 Comments

What I learned in GWSS 3004W?
Coming into a feminism class I thought that the class was going to be a lot different than it turned out. As a misinformed male, I thought that it was going to be bashing and blaming men for what has happened with inequality amongst the genders. I realized that it was nothing of that sorts and that was the farthest thing from the truth. I learned more about how education and having others open their minds is the key to equality. The only thing to blame for the inequality is the system of miseducation and arrogance by both men and women that perpetuate the cycle.

What can be changed for next semester?
THe most challenging part of this class that I had and it seemed as if others had was the amount of prior experience one needs to start this class. Maybe their should be prerequisites? It seemed like a lot of the vocabulary and topics were a bit academic and went over my head. In my opinion it may be better to bring it down to a more real life situation based course.

6 Comments

It's great that Jon learned something about Feminism, and its values in this class. It's especially refreshing because I think awareness and education is exactly something Sara is trying to provide with this class. As far as the class having requirements, I'd have to disagree. I like that the assigned readings could be a bit chalked full of some vocabulary and topics I struggled to grasp on my first readings because the in class discussions and paper handouts really grounded the readings for me, and helped us as a group collectively grapple with the issues provided. A huge part of scholastic inquiry and growth comes from challenging oneself in the classroom by reading things outside of oneself, and to me this class did that perfectly.

However I would agree that other students who have taken classes with Sara or other Profs that use blogging seemed better equipped for the requirements of this class. The amount of paper handouts with due dates and assignment information because too much to look through, and in that way the blog really helps organize information. I enjoy the prompts, and blogging in general but I felt that it was hard to get used to and the due dates were too short a window (being a student with almost a full time job). It might be better in the future to make the blog due dates for Wednesday, and the comment due dates by the end of the week (Sunday). Especially since I notice everyone always has more to say after the class has a good discussion.

Coming into this class I also thought some bashing would take place. Since it's called "Debates" I thought there would be a lot more heated conversations and opposing points of view. Refreshingly enough, this was not the case. I totally agree with Jon that openmindedness is the key to equality, and I've learned how to have a more open mind thanks to this class. I came in wanting to have information to back up my seemingly "feminist views" and I believe I got just that.
I agree completely about some of the subject matter being too much. I've never taken a class like this, and felt way in over my head. I have definitely learned a lot from listening to others who have more experience and are further educated in this subject. I would have liked, however, to have been guided to take a class to better prepare me for this one so that I could contribute to discussions more often. The blog took a lot of getting used to, even though I'd blogged for another class. It seemed like such a heavy load at first (posting/commenting right away, etc) but once I've gotten the hang of it, I feel like I've taken a lot of knowledge from this course. I can definitely see others' points of view and take them into consideration, and now have to the tools to further educate others.

Jon,
I'm really glad you brought up the contrast between the appearance of a general "feminism/feminist debates class" and the way it turned out. Like Kate said, I felt the class was eye-opening and provoked awareness which is what Sara is achieving in teaching the class. Jon, I agree with you that the class could get construed into something more difficult to grasp which could have limited conversation amongst the entire group. I think we can agree as well that we learned a lot. I find myself wanting everyone to take a course similar to this because it broadens the perspective of many of the issues that are presented in today's society and political make-up.
I think the class itself wasn't made for a prerequisite or a prior experience background, but possibly the majority of students in our class already had each of those. I learned a lot from the students as well as the readings, but I understand where you're coming from as far as some of the issues, dialog, and language that was used in class seemed that one needed to have prior knowledge or background compared to other 3xxx level classes I've had. I don't know about you, but it has made me want to do my own research and reading rather than just the delivered coursework. Overall a great class that everyone should take once in their lifetimes in my opinion :) Thanks for bringing this up in your DE.

I agree with all of you about feeling a little unprepared for many of the discussions we had in this class. I took a class last semester, The Body and Politics of Representation, and it helped me out quite a bit for this class but I still often times felt pretty lost. It is a great learning experience, though. I've been very inspired by students in our class who are well versed in feminist issues and who are involved in the U of M community. I was very grateful for students like this in the class. I agree that sometimes this gap in experience limited participation while in big group discussions, but that is why the small group discussions were so helpful. Kim, I also got motivated to research on my own if I felt things were going over my head in class. I have learned a lot, but even if I haven't grasped all the information as well as I should have this class has definitely at least given me a much greater curiosity.

I was interested in Jon's point about the class needing to be more based in real-life situations. Jon, I'm not sure what you were thinking specifically with that statement, but I think you're pointing to something that inhibits academia and feminism in general.
It's so important within the classroom and academia in general to be aware of the ways in which the language we use can become exclusionary, particularly when we try to educate people around stigmatized issues. I've felt for a long time that part of the stigmatization of feminism lies in it's inaccessibility to the general public, which could be remedied drastically if we were able to consistently place conversations about feminism in language that the general public can understand. While feminist theory definitely has a place in academia, it can be difficult to get outside of the language that is used within feminist theory even within real-world situations. I think it is this barrier (among many others) that oftentimes prevents people from exploring feminism and further contributes to misconceptions around feminism.

You're right, there wasn't really any man-blaming in this course. It seemed like the common culprits were society, the media, patriarchal structures and institution, the government, and religious conservatives.

I think both men and women perpetuate these "cycles" for two reasons:
- it benefits them
- values are internalized from a young age

Those who are able to navigate the System have a vested interest in making sure it continues. Women have always found ways to adapt within patriarchal systems. It is often easier to do this than to rebel.

I actually thought the course was pretty casual and introductory. Any words that people were confused about were cleared up without condemning them for not knowing things.

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