By: Mai Nguyen and Ronak Ghorbani
Recently, the National Post’s editorial board published a rather tumultuous piece on the state of Women’s Studies in Canada. There have been numerous responses to this post from various publications—many were disgusted, others were astounded, even Post readers were disturbed. Not so shocking is the stance taking by the conservative editorial, but the offense came from some of its ill-informed assumptions of what Women’s Studies are and how they affect our society.
The Post simplifies Women’s Studies, saying these courses teach students that all women “are victims and nearly all men are victimizers.” I should hope this “editorial board” had previously sat in on a course to make such a bold deliberation. It’s a black-and-white definition that wrongfully exemplifies the complex analysis that these courses actually provide.
This is problematic. As students who have taken several courses on women’s issues, never has there not been a discussion of how men are victims themselves of patriarchy and the circumscribed definition of masculinity that has been produced as a result. This is nothing new in the feminist discourse, but clearly, the Post had missed the boat on that one.
Just last year at the University of Guelph, we saw the elimination of Women’s Studies due to a budget shortfall—it was one of the first programs to be put on the chopping block. This was a blow to the program and to the value of higher learning. We saw how important the program was to Guelph students as they organized protests and a mock funeral for Women’s Studies. In other parts of the country, we watched as more Women’s Studies struggle to keep its programs alive.
So to see it portrayed in such a negative light by a national news board, and to be implied as a conspiracy, a disease put onto the world, is frightening. This piece was a highly ignorant critique of what Women’s Studies is, one that was seemingly based on anger and naiveté. To make matters worse, the Post disabled the article’s online comment section and deleted the lively debate that was occurring on the message board, further silencing advocates of Women’s Studies. Thankfully, the counter arguments are still going on. See other reactions to this editorial: The Walrus Blog, Maclean’s On Campus, Rabble.ca, and Metro News (written by former McClung’s editor-in-chief Canice Leung).
But a particular comment still resonates with us as one reader pointed out that it is articles like this that proves Women’s Studies is still needed.
Mai Nguyen and Ronak Ghorbani