[CAMPUS COMMENTARY]Universities ignore women’s studies

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[CAMPUS COMMENTARY]Universities ignore women’s studies

A few days ago, on the Web site of my university, Sookmyung, I found a posting in one of the student discussion with an interesting title: “The Internet World Is Ruled by the ‘Macho Syndrome’. . . Aren’t You Proud of Yourself?”
The writer had this to say:
“I log into Naver, the Korean portal site, for news. When I read articles related to women’s rights there, I cannot stand Internet users’ responses to the news stories. Internet users curse at feminists, calling them names and using vulgar language. Because I am not a feminist, I don’t feel offended [by] the vulgar words. However, I cannot stand their disparagement of women. Our rights are trampled on the Internet. Why don’t you move against that? We women should pay attention to our rights.”
She was right. However, I couldn’t let one of her statements pass: “Because I am not a feminist, I don’t feel offended [by] the vulgar words.”
I wondered: by her own words, wasn’t she calling herself a feminist?
On the first day of a class called “Feminist Theory,” my professor wrote on the board that “feminism varies.”
She taught us that all feminism is against patriarchy; only the political and philosophical perspective of each feminist varies.
In other words, everything challenging patriarchy is feminism. That means whoever posted the opinion on the discussion board is a feminist.
Why did she deny it? I think she misunderstood the definition of feminism and feminists. So do many students.
I often hear female students say, “I am not a feminist, but I don’t agree with those who think women are unequal to men.” They think feminism is radical and that feminist study is remote from the real world.
Students misunderstand the true definition of feminism because there are few feminism courses offered in universities.
For example, at my school, students are required to take more than one elective class about “women and life.”
However, this class teaches nothing serious about feminism.
There is a course called “Women’s Studies,” but it is offered only in the first semester, so fewer students have the chance to enroll in it.
It is ironic that my school does not have a major in women’s studies despite the fact that it is a women’s university. So I can imagine how co-ed schools are treating women’s studies.
The situation has gotten worse at my school. An interdisciplinary course on women’s studies for those majoring in other fields will be closed next year because the number of students who took it this year fell below 20.
Now, even students attending a “women’s college” are losing the chance to learn about feminism.
Many seem to misunderstand the meaning of feminism because of the lack of education about it.
Universities should increase the number of courses on women’s studies and support students and professors who do research on feminism.

* The writer is the former editor of the Sookmyung Times, an English news magazine at Sookmyung Women’s University.

by Goo Youn Eun-ae
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