ASK ME ABOUT WOMEN’S & GENDER STUDIES
Feminist Voices: Famous Women and Our Students
I highly recommend this course or other courses in the Women’s Studies Program to those who want to expand their knowledge and understanding of the important roles women play in society and in literature, both in the past and in the present.
Norberto Taveras: Deciding to take Introduction to Women Studies class at Hostos Community College was one of the best decisions I have ever made. Before going to the class I was totally blind when it came to women’s/gender issues. I did not know the history of women; the challenges they faced and continue facing, the impact of the society’s portrayal of women on women, girls and men; and what women have done to pursue gender equality. The reading materials, discussions in class, online communication and videos helped me understand now how hard women have worked to minimize gender inequality throughout many, many centuries of unequal treatment One of my favorite readings was A Shining Thread of Hopewritten by Hine and Thompson. This book illustrates the lives of African American women in the United States from the time of their arrival here on slave ships. It documents the oppression, sexism, racism and injustice they faced in different eras and places in this country.The class exposed me to research, analyze and express my feelings about a topic I as a man do not talk much about: men’s issues and the pressures they face in society. “Tough Guise”, a documentary that centralizes its attention on the relationship between masculinity and violence, helped me to understand how masculinity is constructed in the media and society. One of the most exciting assignments was to interview my mother. This exercise helped me to see my mother-for the first time in my life–not only as my mother, but also a woman. This interview showed me the challenges many women, such as my mother, face while deciding who they will be. This interview also gave me the opportunity to participate in the 2009 Award for Academic Excellence in Women’s Studies, an annual competition in which my essay won the first prize.
I strongly recommend Introduction to Women’s Studies with Professor Fisher. It is an exciting, challenging and rewarding class that you will never forget in your life!
A 19th Century Voice
Charlotte Perkins Gilman (The Yellow Wallpaper; Herland) defines the feminist this way:
“Here she comes, running, out of prison and off her pedestal; chains off, crown off, halo off, just a live woman.”
Two Contemporary Voices
Alice Walker, author of The Color Purple and Possessing the Secret of Joy has coined the following definitions:
Womanist : “…opposite of ‘girlish,’ i.e., frivolous, irresponsible, not serious.”
Black feminist or feminist of color “…usually referring to outrageous, audacious, courageous or willful behavior. Wanting to know more and in greater depth than is considered ‘good’ for one….responsible. In charge. Serious. “
Paula Gunn Allen (Native American writer and feminist) reflects, in Where I Come from is Like This:
“The tribes.never portray women as mindless, helpless, simple, or oppressed.As a half-breed American Indian woman, [I cast about in my mind for negative images of Indian women, and I find none that are directed to Indian women alone.]my ideas of womanhood, passed on largely by my mother and grandmothers, Laguna Pueblo women, are about practicality, strength, reasonableness, intelligence, wit, and competence.”