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Men in Women's Studies Classes II

What follows is a two-part discussion about men in women's studies
classes that took place on WMST-L in February 1999.  Eventually, the
focus turned to Boston College professor Mary Daly's controversial 
decision to ban men from her women's studies course, a decision that
received much press coverage in February and March, 1999.  The Daly
discussion has now been made into a separate WMST-L file entitled
Men in Women's Studies: The Mary Daly Case .  For earlier discussions 
related to men in WS, see Male Alienation in Women's Studies Classes (1993), 
Men in Women's Studies Classes (1997), and Male Oppression (1998).  For more 
compilations of WMST-L messages, see the WMST-L File List


Date: Thu, 18 Feb 1999 18:25:22 -0600
From: "Christie L. Fox" <clfox @ INDIANA.EDU>
Subject: Men in the classroom
I am in my second teaching semester of an introductory wost class. Last
semester I had only women; this semester I have one man in a class of 20.
He is, not surprisingly, feeling isolated and told me today that he
regularly thinks of dropping the class. Does anyone have any suggestions in
integrating men into a wost classroom, or in me helping him feel included
when he feels he cannot relate to the material?  Granted, some of the women
can't relate to the material, as I teach in rural Indiana where the average
undergrad is less than enlightened. But still, I had hoped to call on the
collective wisdom of this list to help me navigate this!
Christie Fox
clfox  @  indiana.edu
Folklore Institute
Indiana University

Date: Thu, 18 Feb 1999 17:34:48 -0600
From: Emily Toth <etoth @ UNIX1.SNCC.LSU.EDU>
Subject: Men in the classroom
I don't think the best strategy is to "help him feel included." Women devote
too much energy to doing that. Feeling included is his job; your job is to
teach the women.
Emily Toth
Professor of English & Women's Studies
Allen Hall
Louisiana State University
Baton Rouge, LA 70803
e-mail: etoth  @  UNIX1.SNCC.LSU.EDU
office phone: 225-388-3152
English Dept. fax: 225-388-4129
                     LATEST BOOKS:
Toth. University of Pennsylvania Press--http://www.upenn.edu/pennpress
    1998: KATE CHOPIN'S PRIVATE PAPERS, eds. Emily Toth, Per Seyersted, and
Cheyenne Bonnell. Indiana University Press--http://www.indiana/edu/~iupress
    1999: UNVEILING KATE CHOPIN by Emily Toth. University Press of
    Ms. Mentor's new column: http://www.chronicle.com/jobs

Date: Thu, 18 Feb 1999 17:18:55 -0700
Subject: Men in the classroom
I'll be interested in the replies to Christie Fox about integrating a man into
a WS class too.  Start those replies, list people.  My class, with one man
registered, begins in a week.
Marilyn Grotzky

Date: Thu, 18 Feb 1999 16:16:49 -0800
From: madelyn detloff <mdetloff @ ORION.OAC.UCI.EDU>
Subject: Men in the classroom
If one is teaching about women and gender from a variety of
perspectives--class, race, age, ethnicity, sexuality & other differential
relationships to cultural/political  power--then one would think there are
going to be moments of identification and disidentification for all of the
students at some point in the semester.  I would stress that arriving at
understanding through knowledge is different from identification, and that
the point of offering a class on any subject is to learn something that
one didn't already know.  In other words, I'd make that discomfort a
pedagogical resource, rather than trying to create a 'comfortable'
Madelyn Detloff
University of California
Humanities Research Institute

Date: Thu, 18 Feb 1999 17:44:03 -0800
From: [Identity masked] @ STRIPE.COLORADO.EDU>
Subject: Men in the classroom
Have you read _The Feminist Classroom_? I assume you have, as well as
_Women's Ways of Knowing_. Ask the male student to read some relevant
sections, too, of either or both of these, and remind him that being a
feminist doesn't necessarily mean that you have to be female. (This
might be a good opportunity for him to find out what it is like to be in
the minority, and take the position that it is a unique opportunity, not
likely to be repeated ever again ... ) You might have him ask some
relevant questions of himself, such as: If he were in another sort of
class, that is, not specifically a WMST course, and the material
happened to be difficult to understand, would he consider dropping, or
would he continue on, take the challenge, and try to navigate the
material? Why should the course's being about women's studies preclude
his being able to understand it?
I respectfully disagree with the notion that your job is "to teach the
women." Your job is to teach the subject. To all those who find the
subject of interest. This male student must have had some interest in
the material or he would not have signed up for the course.
When I teach, I figure that I may really reach a few of my students. We
all have that experience of wondering if they really "get" what we're
trying to impart. I think it is well worth helping this young person to
understand the material, and his relationship to it. If he is resistant,
and is not interested in learning, that is something else. But I think
that he may be finding himself in a very interesting place, and if you
can encourage him to take advantage of his position in it, you've done
everyone--yourself included--quite a service. Even the female students.
They will benefit (as you say that many of them don't understand the
material, either) from your having to stretch your approach.
Maybe I'm naive, but I like a challenge. This sounds like an interesting
one to me. Stretching the mind muscles is always painful, especially for
students who aren't used to it.


Date: Thu, 18 Feb 1999 20:36:39 -0500
From: "Dr. Aprahamian" <aprhsma @ ALCOR.CONCORDIA.CA>
Subject: Men in the classroom
Hello all,
I have always a few men in my intro to women's studies classes & they feel
'included" due to the "inclusive" curriculum that we stress on at the
Simone de Beauvoir Institute, Concordia University, where I teach. To give
a concrete example, we present feminism as a multi-vocal space and we
consider every experience as valid as any other. At a more "personal"
level, when I say statements like quoting M. Wittig or Simone de Beauvoir
as "One is not born a woman" I add (nor one is born a man). One becomes
one. I also include discussions on the hegemony of heterosexual
Hope this helps. With best wishes,
Sima Aprahamian, Ph.D.
Simone de Beauvoir Institute
Concordia University
1455 de Maisonneuve W.
Montreal (Quebec)
H3G 1M8
E-mail: aprhsma  @  alcor.concordia.ca
Tel.: (514) 848-2373.

Date: Thu, 18 Feb 1999 20:38:19 -0500
Subject: Men in the (Intro) classroom
Christie - I htink it is our duty to teach all our students.  I
also think that your male student has the responsibility to learn by
listening well to the women students in the class and to investigate
his responses to what takes place - which may make him uncomfortable,
because displacing him as the assumed "center" of education/knowledge
construction.  However, I think it is harder for _anyone_ who is the
"one" student; when I have 6 or 7 men in class they feel less isolated
and are usually more involved in productive ways.  (I also teach
Intro, where up to one third of our students are male.)  I believe
it is important for us as teachers, however, to not _assume_ that male
students will only be oppositional or are irrelevant to the learning
that takes place in the introductory course.  I would find a way to
problematize gender issues so that the class as a whole can interrogate
the damage as well as privilege our society inflicts/confers to maleness
in relation to femaleness and do so in the context of race, class,
sexual orientation so men - and women - are not seen as monolithic
groups.  On the issue of our assumptions about men and how to counter
them I recommend Diana Hume George, "Bridges Over the Gender Gap;
Male Students in Women's Studies," Radical Teacher, no. 42 and
Glyn Hughes (forthcoming) "Revisiting the 'Men Problem' in Introductory
Women's Studies Classes," in _Teaching Introduction to Women's Studies:
Expectations and Strategies_ edited by Barbara Scott Winkler and
Carolyn DiPalma (Greenwood Publishing Group, Inc. Bergin and Garvey
Press) to be published Sept. 1999.  Best, Barbara Scott Winkler
West Virginia University Center for Women's Studies  bwinkler  @  wvu.edu

Date: Thu, 18 Feb 1999 22:39:31 -0500
From: Arnie Kahn <kahnas @ JMU.EDU>
Subject: Men in the (Intro) classroom
As usual, I agree completely with Barbara Scott Winkler.  I have
tought intro and psych of women in classes of 20-25 which have had 0
to 5 men.  Now maybe it's different because I'm a man, but my
experience is that the class is pretty much the same whether men are
there or not.
I've also been in many situations in which I have been the only man
(one of which I wrote about not too long ago).  What I learned back in
the late 1970s as the only male member of the Psychology of Women
Division Executive Committee of the American Psychological Association
was to listen to women.  In our culture, as in most, men learn that
what men say is important and what women say is not.  As a result men
are not used to listening to women, really listening.
I think the lone man in the class is probably confused, feeling a bit
guilty, feeling like he's being bashed, and feeling as though he will
be shot down if he expresses himself.  That is, he's feeling like what
a lot of women students feel in engineering, physics, and other mostly
male fields.  But if he's reading and listening he's learning a lot.
In my experience the women students will take care of any problems.
They'll ask him his opinion on a topic.  Or, he'll feel so frustrated
that he'll give his opinion and discover that it's shared by others.
I suspect he is being quiet because he's not sure what the rules are
for him in this class.
I hope this helps.
Arnie Kahn, Psych. Dept. MSC 7401, JMU, Harrisonburg, VA 22807
Office: 540-568-3963   Fax: 540-568-3322   E-mail: kahnas  @  jmu.edu

Date: Thu, 18 Feb 1999 23:26:57 -0500
From: "Carolyn I. Wright" <ciwright @ MAILBOX.SYR.EDU>
Subject: Men in the classroom
I would start off by asking him ask why he signed up for the class and
what he hopes to learn from
it.What are his goals for the himself in the class?

Date: Thu, 18 Feb 1999 21:13:03 -0700
From: Jacqueline Thomason <jackiet @ SIRIUS.COM>
Subject: Men in the classroom
Perhaps there is an opportunity here for this student to gain empathy for
women's experience, in the classroom and in the world.
I  feel the hairs on the back of my neck rise when I read your concern
about "helping him feel included" and one of the respondents suggesting
that "the women students will take care of any problems".  His inability to
"feel included" sounds like a symptom of his being displaced from the
center of the discourse.
Yes, we should teach all of our students; but it is not the responsibility
of the teacher and the other students to make this man "feel included"?  It
sounds to me that this one person might be taking the focus off the topic
of women's studies and turning it to himself.  I would suggest helping him
to focus on the content of the course and the issues being discussed rather
than on his feelings, unless he is willing to use those feelings to better
understand the issues at hand.

Date: Fri, 19 Feb 1999 07:41:49 -0500
Subject: Men in the classroom
While I regularly have some (relatively small) number of men in my
Sociology of Gender classes, I've only twice had one man in my Intro
to Women's Studies classes.  I've not had problems in my Gender classes.
I do sometimes quickly have a student drop the class as soon as I
locate the discussion of patriarchy, or discuss the problems of
hegemonic masculinity.
The first male in my Intro to WS got upset and left the first day.
I had introduced concepts of feminist pedagogy, including the value
of the experiential.  I then asked students to consider what
"patriarchy" meant, and to share any experiences they had with
patriarchy with the class.  Even though it was only the first day,
the discussion was quite lively.  The class essentially took over
the discussion, and the flow and connection was fantastic.  Except
for the young man - he was to my left in our circle, and he sat
there with his hand up.  It was the class's dialogue - I was not
controlling who spoke next.  But as the dialogue flowed to his
geographic space, he said, "It's in religion, too."  There was a
pause, and the class continued with dialogue without acknowledging
what he had said.
After class, he came up and said that I disrespected him.  I started
to apologize, and stopped mid-sentence.  I had not disrespected him.
So I said something to the effect that I was sorry he was upset, and
we could talk about that, but I had not disrespected him.  He repeated
his statement three times, and I in a soft voice repeated some
version of mine.
He then went to the Dean to complain; the Dean suggested that since
it was the first week, he might feel more comfortable in another
class.  I later found the reason he was in the class was that the
woman he was dating - who stayed with the class - had encouraged him
to do so; that they were in the early stages of a relationship, and
he was trying to make points with her.
The second man in the class was an older student, a Social Work major.
He had had a very close relationship with his older sister, and was
quite sensitive to women's issues.  He publically stated in class
that he was willing to leave if at any time the class felt uncomfortable
with him being there, given the topic of the time.  This never
happened (and I really did not want it to happen, though I could
see there might be a time when the fact of his presence as a man
might have made the space other than a safe space).
I was adamant that we not look to his as the official representative
of the male view.  I think we do this in our classes - look to the
only Hispanic as being the official word on that view, look to the
only African as being the official word on that view.  Certainly, I
respect the views of all in my classes, but that is quite different
from making them the "official voice" of that group.
I do think that a man in a woman studies class does change the
dynamic of the dialogue.  With all due respect to Arnie, I think
his being a male professor in a Psychology of Women class does
change the dynamic somewhat.  It does not invalidate the dialogue -
I have no problem with men (just because they are men) teaching women-focused
But a Women's Studies course needs include both academic understanding
of the material, as well as experential understanding.  (I strive for
this in all my courses, but ESPECIALLY in my Women's Studies classes.)
And there are  times when that dialogue is changed by the gender of
those in the class.
BTW, in the class with the older male Social Work major, I am convinced
that the female students came to see him as just another student, and
at times did not feel his presence, or at least minimalized his
presence as a male (maybe this can happen with an experienced male
prof in a Women's Studies class).  But I know there were times when
that male student was embarassed or uncomfortable.  That was the
price of his being in the class, because shutting off the dialogue
which lead to his embarassment/discomfort would have been unfair to
other members of the class.
Finally, if we recall Peggy McIntosh's concept of privilege.  In the
case of the young man who said I disrespected him, I think that what
happened was that the class did not assign him the privilege to which
he was accustomed.  That women as a group are more used to saying
something in class and not having it lauded; but that when he made
his comment, even though I acknowledged it with an "OK" or "yes,"
the class did not acknowledge or praise him or his comment, but
just continued as though he were not there.  Any this loss of
privilege is what caused him to react as he did.        - Mary
Mary L. Ertel, Associate Professor, Sociology
Central Connecticut State University, New Britain, CT  06050

Date: Fri, 19 Feb 1999 09:24:16 +0000
From: Leonora Smith <smithleo @ PILOT.MSU.EDU>
Subject: Men in the classroom
Charlie brings up an issue that bears further discussion.  In my
experience of teaching first year women's studies/writing courses, even
one or two men's presence tended to dominate the classroom. The women
still defer to the man or men, often did caretaking for him, and often
putting him forward as a spokeperson for presentations and
discussions--feeding him lines, you might say.
As to the man's comfort, my experience tells me that he will either find
a greater degree of comfort, especially if the classroom includes small
groups discussion or interactions that aren't so public as whole class
discussion, so that he can try out his ideas before he has to address
the whole room.
Mainly the males I've taught in this situation have been worried about
ME--that I was a feminist and therefore--in a logic that's probably as
popular in Indiana as in Michigan--I don't "like men" or will insult
them or give them a bad grade when they say the wrong thing without
"meaning anything by it."  Once they deal with these issues, it settles
down.  I expect it will settle in your case.
And if he drops the course, well, so, that's fine, too. I don't think
you should feel obliged to discourage him if he finds the course isn't
his cup of tea.
FWIW, Leonora Smith

Date: Fri, 19 Feb 1999 09:19:23 -0600
From: Judith Baer <jbaer @ POLISCI.TAMU.EDU>
Subject: Men in the Classroom
Christie, I HATE that situation--where I'm teaching a WMST class with only
one man.  I've done classes that are all women and classes with 10-15% men
(out of 30-35), and those work out, but the 1-man situation is very hard on
him and on me.  While I agree it is our job to teach all our students, I
don't think that means they have to feel comfortable, and it certainly
doesn't mean we have to make them feel comfortable.  (Their correlative
responsibility, of course, is to learn; they don't all do that, do they?)  I
wish you luck asking him why he took the class.  At A&M, it's too often
because it was the only class the student could get into that he/she needed
for some reason.
The first time I taught women and the law, in 1981, I had several women
students complain on the evaluations that the men felt intimidated.  How
terrible!  And how solicitous of these women to be so concerned!  My private
reation was, "well, now they know how women feel."  At about the same time,
I belonged to a book discussion group which read a feminist novel.  About 20
women and 3 men came to the meeting.  A few women kept saying, "Let's hear
what the men have to say!"  Result:  ALL the men spoke at least once; some
of the women didn't get to talk at all.  And I have NEVER had a male student
who kept silent the whole semester in a WMST class.  Can't say the same
about the women!
Remember, students don't learn only from the content of the course.  I have
a hunch this guy is learning a lot.
Judy Baer
jbaer  @  politics.tamu.edu
That's what can happen.

Date: Fri, 19 Feb 1999 08:15:41 -0500
From: sasha <sasha @ WORLDCHAT.COM>
Subject: Men's Bibliography - Michael Flood
Here's the URL for Michael Flood's Men's Bibliography for those of you who
might find it helpful.
Sasha McInnes
sasha  @  worldchat.com

Date: Fri, 19 Feb 1999 09:54:26 -0800
From: [Identity masked] @ STRIPE.COLORADO.EDU>
Subject: Men in the Classroom
Christie and WMST-L:
On a related note, there is a very interesting (true, as well as
troublesome) story about this kind of situation, written by Susan
Krieger, in her book _The Family Silver: Essays on Relationships Among
Women_ (California, 1996). In her essay, Krieger relates her experience
of being an untenured lesbian professor (I believe it was at Stanford)
and the problems that arose from interactions with a lone, and
antagonistic, male student in one of her classes. She struggled mightily
with the issues you raise.
Eventually, the situation escalated so that she was confronted
(apparently with some hostility, and very little support) by what
appeared to be a largely non-lesbian Women's Studies faculty. The issue
of "accommodating" male students was very painful for her, and the essay
was equally painful, but worthwhile, reading.
Krieger's story really points to some difficult issues, especially for a
lesbian teacing in Women's Studies, who personally found it even more
difficult to go the distance to "accommodate" the men in her class. Her
vulnerability in the university hierarchy also made her position all the
more problematic.
Hope this helps.


Date: Fri, 19 Feb 1999 15:56:33 -0500
From: Marc Sacks <msacks @ WORLD.STD.COM>
Subject: Men in the classroom
Emily Toth wrote, when asked about a man who feels isolated in a women's
studies class, "I don't think the best strategy is to "help him feel
included." Women devote too much energy to doing that. Feeling included is
his job; your job is to teach the women."
I wonder if she would feel the same way if it were a woman who felt she
didn't belong in, say, a physics class.  If not, what's the difference?
Or what about a woman in a women's studies class, "enlightened" (as
Christie Fox put it) or not?  Isn't a teacher's job to teach all students,
not just those of a particular gender (, race, religion, etc.)?
This exchange exemplifies two things that have bothered me about women's
studies programs but that I have had trouble articulating.  The first is
that women's studies isn't really an academic discipline so much as an
advocate for women's issues and a feminist perspective.  I have nothing
against advocacy or feminism, but it's necessary to distinguish them from
academic inquiry.  Corollary to this is the notion that men somehow don't
belong in women's studies.  No one wants to kick them out, of course, but
it's not the professor's  role to provide them with sufficient
understanding or acceptance to make them comfortable.  Gee, in a world in
which so many men "just don't get it," I would think you'd treasure rather
than alienate the few who try. While we're at it, let's get all those
black people out of European literature classes and don't make the
gentiles feel too good about being in Jewish studies.
My second qualm relates to Christie Fox's use of the word "enlightened."
I don't think she was being ironic.  In other contexts, this is called
elitism, and people on the left tend to strongly oppose it when they're
not the ones doing the enlightening.  In this one, it highlights that
feminism is not just a way, even a valid way, of looking at the world, but
the only valid way.  This is not the way academics disciplines are
supposed to proceed, and it certainly is not the way to persuade people
that your viewpoint is worth considering.  It's hard enough to get people
to see the world in a new light without their being made to feel inferior
to you in the process.
Marc Sacks
msacks  @  world.std.com

Date: Fri, 19 Feb 1999 16:19:02 -0500
From: "Irene C. Goldman-Price" <icg2 @ PSU.EDU>
Subject: Men in the classroom
Hi all-
    It's funny, I've never had trouble with a single man in the intro course,
or 2 or 3.  I would take him aside, let him know I understand he must feel
uncomfortable, and suggest that he just sit back and listen for a while.
What I tell them is that this may be the best, or perhaps the only, chance
he will have to hear women speaking their minds among themselves.  If he
just listens in, he may learn some truths about women that he wouldn't have
access to otherwise.  I also reassure him that he can always speak out
whenever he wants, but if he spends more time listening he may learn some
deep truths about women.
Now I have a new problem.  I'm in a school that gives diversity credit
towards general studies for the intro course, and I have 16 boys in a class
of 40, nearly half the class.  I'm used to 1-3 in a class of 20-25, so I'm
having trouble both with the size of the class and the ratio.  The girls
just haven't opened up the way they usually do.  Any suggestions?

Date: Fri, 19 Feb 1999 17:04:26 -0500
From: Ruby Rohrlich <rohrlich @ GWIS2.CIRC.GWU.EDU>
Subject: Men in the classroom
On one occasion when I had only one male in a women's studies class,he
happened to be a Dominican  and I discussed with him what interested him
most about Dominican women.  When next he went to the Dominican Republic
he surveyed the economic background of Dominican women prostitutes, and
wrote a report that interested the class about the economic reasons for
Dominican women becoming prostitutes. Your single male probably has a
special interest that he could explore in a report and that would make him
feel part of the class.
 Ruby Rohrlich
rohrlich  @  gwis2.circ.gwu.edu

Date: Fri, 19 Feb 1999 16:26:49 -0800
From: [Identity masked] @ STRIPE.COLORADO.EDU>
Subject: Men in the classroom
After reading your message, I kept asking myself if you had questioned
whether women's studies was/is a legitimate field of academic inquiry,
as, for instance, we consider a subject like Physics to be. Could you
perhaps qualify that point?
I've included your quote below.

Marc Sacks wrote: <edited>
"This exchange exemplifies two things that have bothered me about
women's studies programs but that I have had trouble articulating.  The
first is that women's studies isn't really an academic discipline so
much as an advocate for women's issues and a feminist perspective.  I
have nothing against advocacy or feminism, but it's necessary to
distinguish them from academic inquiry."

Date: Fri, 19 Feb 1999 18:46:28 -0500
From: Daphne Patai <daphne.patai @ SPANPORT.UMASS.EDU>
Subject: Men in the classroom - and "The Burning Times"
The discussion of men in the classroom left me wondering: what would we say
if this situation were reversed  (one or few women in a largely male class,
the woman politely raising her hand and waiting to be recognized while a
free-for-all discussion among the men went on around her, unmediated by the
professor, the male professor advised by colleagues to ignore the woman's
feelings and teach to the men; the encouragement to the professor to let
the lone student drop out; the hint that it's not even proper for the
professor to be concerned about the lone student, etc., etc.)?
       When Noretta Koertge and I, in our 1994 book, criticized women's
studies programs for behaving in precisely the manner just endorsed by
several contributors to this list, many women's studies people treated us
as enemies and asserted that no such things went on in *their* classrooms.
But this familiar discussion (which has taken place repeatedly on this
list, as if eternal recurrence were the norm in women's studies) once again
highlights the very real problems that evidently continue undiminished in
women's studies:  the confusion between intellectual inquiry and
proselytizing, the endorsement of behavior that would never be tolerated in
reverse, as if tit for tat were what feminism is all about  (I sure hope it
isn't!), the open antipathy to men, as if an individual young male student
were the enemy, and on and on.
      It also occurs to me that the stance Emily Toth and a few others did
not hesitate to articulate (and I admire their honesty) would probably get
them into serious legal trouble if any student ever took it into his mind
to file suit, and should, even in the absence of legal action, be of
concern to the institutions that employ them.
     On the film "The Burning Times," I wonder if people who teach this
film tell their students about the wildly erroneous figure of 9 million
women burned as witches that the film cites and provide more accurate
information.  Surely correcting distorted knowledge is part of what
feminism originally set out to do in the academy.
daphne.patai  @  spanport.umass.edu

Date: Fri, 19 Feb 1999 21:01:11 -0500 (EST)
From: Corey Hale <Evaroot @ AOL.COM>
Subject: Men in the classroom
I have been watching this dialogue with interest and have been waiting for
someone to interject how a female student feels about having a man in the
classroom.  As of yet I haven't seen that type of response, so here I go.
As a Gender Studies major, I have never failed to feel offended at the extra
attention a lone male gets for being so "brave" as to venture into a women's
studies course.  Aren't the women just as brave?  This is not an isolated
occurrence but one I have experienced in virtually every women's studies class
I have taken, the professor singles the male student out, welcomes him and
applauds him for braving this room full of women.  All of this is usually done
with humor and the best of intentions, but it's still offensive.  Do women get
applauded for their bravery in enrolling in other disciplines?  Whether they
should or should not be is irrelevant.  If we are focusing on a patriarchal
structure as being part of the problem then why is it perpetuated with
applause and praise every time a man walks through the door?  It's not that I
don't want men to feel welcome, it's that I don't want it to be at my expense.
When we direct our attention to a male's presence as some kind of honor it
devalues the presence of all the brave women who are choosing to study in an
area that some still disregard as less than an academic discipline.
I don't want my theories to be given credibility by the presence of a man
within my discipline.  What I do want is to experience the diversity that a
wide range of enrollment has to offer, meaning, I would like to see more men
in the classroom.  Having said that, I've found that my greatest potential for
learning is when I am on the edge of my envelope...So, I say stop trying to
help men feel comfortable and allow them to learn from the place they find
Corey Hale
Feminist Majority Leadership Alliance
Sonoma State University, California
Evaroot  @  aol.com

Date: Fri, 19 Feb 1999 23:18:10 -0500
From: Arnie Kahn <kahnas @ JMU.EDU>
Subject: Men in the classroom
On Fri, 19 Feb 1999, Marc Sacks wrote
> This exchange exemplifies two things that have bothered me about women's
> studies programs but that I have had trouble articulating.  The first is
> that women's studies isn't really an academic discipline so much as an
> advocate for women's issues and a feminist perspective.  I have nothing
> against advocacy or feminism, but it's necessary to distinguish them from
> academic inquiry.
I make it very clear in my classes that we are "studying" the feminist
perspective.  I make it very clear on my syllabus and orally that one
does not have to agree with this point of view, but a student does
have to understand it.  It's like a course on Marxist perspectives,
behavioral perspective, or post-modern perspectives.
On exams, I often ask, "What is the position of XXX on YYY, and why
does she favor this point of view?"  My classes often disagree with
authors who I find compelling.  My classes often blame women when I
think the women are blameless.  There are no party lines.  Yes, the
class often advocates for women's issues, but I think this is because
they find the "academic inquiry" persuasive.  Becoming a radical
feminist is not required and it won't get them a good grade, although
it does make me happy.
Arnie Kahn, Psych. Dept. MSC 7401, JMU, Harrisonburg, VA 22807
Office: 540-568-3963   Fax: 540-568-3322   E-mail: kahnas  @  jmu.edu

Date: Sat, 20 Feb 1999 14:02:57 -0500
From: "Dra. Angela Pattatucci Aragon" <ampatt02 @ ATHENA.LOUISVILLE.EDU>
Subject: Men in the classroom
While the two aren't exactly analagous, science classrooms are often
arenas where women feel isolated and unwelcome.  I wonder if some of the
strategies forwarded by Sue Rosser and others to help make science
programs more hospitable for women could be adapted to the men in the
Women's Studies classroom situation.
In my book _Women In Science: Meeting Career Challenges_, I note that
women in scientific programs often feel as if they are "trespassers on the
private property of men."  From some of the contributions to this
discussion, it sounds as if a similar thing may be occurring with men in
Women's Studies classrooms.  A major difference, of course is that women
rarely lash out at professors/peers or are disruptive in other ways in
science classrooms.  However, despite that caveat, I think that this is a
worthwhile issue to think about.  Do men enter into Women's Studies
classrooms with an "I really don't belong here" attitude similar to what
is experienced by some women in science classrooms?  If we assume that men
are ignorant of, or will have difficulty connecting with, women's issues
are we not acting analogously to the science professor who might assume
that women are less adept at spatial and abstract reasoning?  Do we judge
men more by stereotype than ability in Women's Studies -- a practice that
is commonly experienced by women in science?  Do we take men in Women's
Studies classes less seriously, questioning their interest and motivation
for being there, in a similar way to which women in science classrooms
are often assumed to be there with "ulterior motives", such as obtaining
the "coveted Mrs. degree"?  If we apply a philosophy that teaches to the
majority, basically ignoring the one or two men in the class and leaving
them to fend for themselves, are we not behaving analogously to the
Physics professor that does precisely the same thing to the two women in
their class?
Does the Women's Studies academic environment *really* treat men
in a similar way that the scientific environment treats women -- or are
the dynamics more complex?
Angela Pattatucci Aragon
ampatt02  @  athena.louisville.edu

Date: Sat, 20 Feb 1999 15:18:30 -0500
From: Beti Ellerson <bellerson @ FAC.HOWARD.EDU>
Subject: Men in the classroom
The other day I was talking with a friend of mine who is a African woman
doctoral student.  She told me how frustrated she was in a class of twenty,
where she is the only black person.  The professor is a white man, and the
students are both women and men, majority white with two or so Asian
students.  It is a political science class and she feels that the professor
ignores her in general, and especially when she attempts to discuss her
views regarding theories of Africa.  She feels that she is generally
excluded from the class.
My friend's experience made think about this current discussion.  I wondered
to what extent the gender-specific discomfort of men in women studies
classes may extend to race-specific discomfort of perhaps a woman of color
who may be in a class of white women.
Beti Ellerson
Howard University

Date: Sat, 20 Feb 1999 20:01:29 -0800 (PST)
From: Candice Seppa <qualifiedgrad @ HOTMAIL.COM>
Subject: men in the classroom
The difference is that most women in our culture have spent all of their
lives trying to make men fell more comfortable and more included.
I cannot speak for Emily, but I do not think she meant for women's
studies teachers to purposefully make a male student feel unwanted, but
rather for them not to make an EXTRA effort or fuss, over and above what
they would do for a female student who felt left out for a reason
unrelated to gender.
Then again, doesn't it seem like the absolute best way for a male to
understand what women go through in our culture would be for him to go
through it himself?  These lone male students are just getting a small
taste of what it is like to not be the center of attention.  They have
the option of dropping out if the going gets too tough, whereas we don't
have the option of dropping out of the patriarchal system.
Candice Seppa
qualifiedgrad  @  hotmail.com

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