July 25, 2005

Men talking about girl-stuff?!

UW has a new chair of their Women's Studies department. This is big because the new chair is a man. Hugo has a great post on men teaching women's studies (which he himself does):

No, I will never know what it is like to menstruate. No, I will never know what it is like to have to choose between motherhood and career. I will never have a clitoris, I will never give birth, and my chances of being a victim of acquaintance rape are infinitesimal. But a shared biology, even a shared experience of suffering, is no guarantee of empathy; just look at the legions of anti-feminist women in public life! Yes, men like David Allen and Hugo Schwyzer can be role models too, though perhaps not the sort that Melissa Pico expects.

At the risk of real hubris, men like us send the vital signal to young men that feminism is a man's concern as well. In our public work and our private behavior, we model (imperfectly, I'm aware) what it is to live as a pro-feminist man. Our young men need to see that to know it is possible. Heck, our young women also need to know that there are men out there who do see their experiences, hopes, fears, dreams, and history as colossally important.

I hope some day to teach philosophy classes with of a feminist/women's studies flavour. There are lots of good stuff for such a class: "big name" feminist theorists, from Wollstonecraft to de Beauvoir to contemporary French postmodernists; feminist critiques of science, especially biology and sociology; and theories of ethics and social/political philosophy considered 'feminist' -- a number of the biggest names in ethics and soc/poli phil right now are women. These are a bit outside my primary area (philosophy of math) of course, but I think I'll end up qualified to teach something along these lines.

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