Joy Castro's piece, "On Becoming Educated," strongly resounded with Alison Jaggar's assertions about needing to, "confront complex, multidimensional problems that require us to balance a variety of values and to evaluate the claims and interests of a variety of groups." That is to say, Feminism cannot merely be content to exist in a realm of comfortable universality; it's not realistic or proportional to the world we live in. There are not only different groups of women ranging from ethnicity, sexuality, class, gender expression, political views, etc, but men too, should be included in this conversation. If part of the goal of Feminism is to fight patriarchy then certainly men's role in society and their own broad range of experiences should be expressed and navigated as well.
Castro notes in her article how she "got to teach women's literature, including Latina literature, and feminist theory to classrooms of thirty-five men at a time. Farmboys and lawyers' sons took my classes... I value those voices, those questions, that red-state hostility, because they taught me how to make feminism's insights relevant to people outside a closed, snug room of agreement." Castro's insight about her own first experiences teaching demonstrates how feminism can and needs to be expressed and taught outside classrooms of highly educated and interested students that are a vast majority female. A person need not be an entitled scholar to learn and benefit from what feminism is able to teach and likewise feminism shouldn't be locked away in academia for a select few--inaccessibility breeds stagnation because there is no longer a myriad of ideas, thoughts, opinions, and experiences being discussed.
And finally, As Jaggar also points out, "if we are sincerely concerned with ending the subordination of all women, feminists cannot afford unquestioned assumptions, orthodoxies, or dogmatic commitments to positions alleged to be 'politically correct.' What is common of often "accepted truths" is that these assertions are meant to include everybody but in fact leave out a good number of people. Something is not a fact or justified simply because a majority of people agree with that rhetoric; it's that kind of thinking that has marginalized women for so many years. Castro in her experiences with grad school faced a similar situation in one of her classes. They read, Gloria Anzaldúa's, Borderlands/La Frontera: The New Mestiza, and apparently "it was too disjointed, too polemical. Students quickly chime in with their discomfort over the book's 'angry' content..." Castro goes on to say how, "my professor and classmates hadn't stumbled over W.E.B. DuBois, Zora Neale Hurston, or Maxine Hong Kingston, but Gloria Anzaldúa is somehow too different, too much....I find myself arguing in defense of the book's worth, trying to articulate the difference between being angry by temperament and expressing justified anger in response to violation." This situation exemplifies how certain materials written by authors of a different ethnicity and perspective can instill a particular amount of unsettlement in the audience.
The book's merits were dismissed because the material covered a wide range of subjects, was strongly worded, and it made people feel uncomfortable. These characteristics should not disbar a piece of work. It's good to feel that discomfort, especially over someone's being angry, because it challenges readers then to reconcile not only their own experiences with the author but to really evaluate the issues being brought up. It's okay for an author to be angry; the very real problems that face women aren't something that should be just viewed in a distanced objective manner--it discounts the very real situations and struggles that these different groups of women face.
What I'm still wondering though is how does academia then get itself a reality check? I mean, how are we able to begin the discourse around issues and subjects that make people uncomfortable and challenge strong held beliefs or ideologies of a given field like feminism?