Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Things I've learned in my women's studies class: part 1

I'm taking a women's studies course as my elective this term. The class is called "Gender, Sexuality and the National Security State," and I'm not sure why I'm in it. Everything is about "terrorists" (finger quotes!) and "white man supremacy" (finger quotes!) and lesbians (a real term, no finger quotes necessary).

After 6 weeks of class, here is what I have learned:

1) The security state is not a physical place. This is new to me. I thought it was like...New York. Or Iraq. Incorrect. It's a mental state. Or something. I'm still unclear.

2) The media are evil. Maybe worse than "terrorists." But are "terrorists" bad, or good? Still lost there, too. All I know is I, a sweater-vest wearing starbucks sipping member of the media, am evil.

3) Gay people are queer people. Aboriginal people are indigenous people. Housewives are communists. Communists are free thinkers. And maybe queers. AHH.

4) The female orgasm is a national security threat. I think that makes me a terrorist.

5) The antidote to terrorism is lesbianism. I think that makes me a terrorist.

To conclude: I am going to fail this class.



ps- here is a description I wrote of the class for an assignment for another class. I think it paints a pretty accurate picture.

Professor Pat’s eyes light up as she jabs a piece of chalk toward a girl in the front row.

“What did you just say?” Pat asks breathlessly.

The girl lowers her head, her cheeks blazing. The lights in the classroom reflect off her horn-rimmed glasses.

“The gaygeoisie,” she whispers.

“What?” Pat says, jutting her head down closer to the girl.

“The gaygeoisie,” she says more loudly. “Like the bourgeoisie of gays.”

“Oh my god!”

Pat opens her arms wide, like she’s about to grab the girl and lift her off the ground in a hug. She leans black and claps her chalk-covered hands together, just once. She laughs loudly.

“The gaygeoisie! I love it!”

Pat’s fourth-year women’s studies class is almost impossible to get into. Her reputation as queer-friendly, race-friendly, caste-friendly - and both painstakingly politically correct yet stridently subversive - has students lining up outside the classroom just to get a seat. Only 21 make it inside.

Blackboards scribbled with words like “epistemic ejection,” “homonationalism” and “official vagueness” line the room. Some words are underlined or circled twice, and connected by erratic lines to other words.

The students make quotation marks with their fingers when they speak.

“Queer white patriarchy,” a girl in a knit hat says slowly, her index and middle fingers curling.

“Necropolitics,” and another set of fingers.

“Terrorist attack.”

The semi-circle of students is a blur of short, edgy haircuts and dark-rimmed glasses. Six girls sip from environmentally friendly metal water bottles. Five have knit hats tugged over their heads. Four have visible facial piercings.

Everyone widens their eyes and raises their eyebrow when Pat talks about next week’s guest speaker. An ex-Black Panther will be talking to the class.

“She’s been to prison!” Pat says, her arms waving.

“She’s a feminist! She’s a communist!”

Pat grins and her eyes flash.

“And she’s queer.”

Her eyes quickly scan the room and land on the journalism student wearing a sweater-vest and drinking from a Starbucks cup.

“Not that you have to be queer to pass this course,” Pat adds.

She moves back to the list of terms on the blackboard. Her index and middle fingers curl into quotation marks.

“White National Subject.”

She chuckles and rolls up her sleeves.

“The gaygeoisie! I just love that.”


Cleavage said...

Has 'queer' been used as a verb yet? As in, 'queering the gender dichtomy' etc etc? Because made up words are the best part of women's studies (besides the cute girls/bois who might have been girls before they were bois/boys who don't like girls but are still pretty to look at)

Anonymous said...

When I took a women's studies class, me and a friend expressed an unpopular view (it wasn't offensive or inappropriate, just not as left-wing as majority opinion) and our classmates roasted us over the coals in the discussion. We went to see the teacher privately afterward and said how uncomfortable we felt going to class and how excluded from a sense of community, etc., etc., and ended up just doing the papers & exams and never having to attend class again :)

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