Why Everyone Should Take A Women’s Studies Class

With finals week winding down, one of the last things students want to think about is the idea of classes.

While looking forward to winter break is on the minds of many, it is equally as important to reflect on the past semester to evaluate all that you’ve learned, as well as how you have grown over the these last 15 weeks. Having taken my first Women’s and Gender Studies class this fall, I’ve come to the conclusion that this class in particular is one that would benefit each and every student.

Male or female, Women’s Studies courses stand to provide a wealth of essential material to college students at a time in their lives when they are inundated with large amounts of information. Women’s Studies classes provide a contextual understanding of topics such as sexuality, the politics of gender, and the social constructs in which our lives are shaped since birth. These topics allow students to critically think about factual information versus hearsay, and allow them to evaluate ideas for truth. Many of the discussions held within the classroom bring to light the experiences of those who may be different than us, and create an understanding of how an individual’s life is privileged or oppressed based on identities such as race, gender, or class.

One of the most beneficial concepts taught in Women’s Studies classes is the idea of intersectionality. This idea incorporates the interconnected relationships among varying identities—as mentioned above—and how these systems affect our perspectives and experiences. Learning about intersectionality forces each and every student outside their own comfort zone in order to recognize how human aspects outside our control affect both our own and our peers’ lives. The men in class are able to better understand the experiences of women and the obstacles they face daily, and women are able to listen to the stories of those who have been challenged by divisions of race, identity, or class.

Women’s Studies classes require you to be more honest with yourself and with others, and open your eyes to the many reasons why feminism is still needed. With women still only earning around 80% of the earnings as their male counterparts, and with one in four people affected by workplace sexual harassment, women across the global continue to be treated unequally. A course on Women’s Studies will dive into these very issues, and give an overview of how institutions tend to perpetuate—rather than fix—systems that continue to hold women back.

Whether or not you consider yourself a feminist before stepping foot inside a Women’s Studies classroom, it’s difficult to not walk away from a class on this topic without having an appreciation and understanding for why the fight for gender equality must endure. Women’s Studies classes are open to all students of each and every major, and provide a beneficial learning environment for those looking to enhance their social awareness. The subjects covered will stay with students for life, and these courses certainly won’t leave you wondering, “When will I ever use this?”

While it was incredibly encouraging to see a larger number of male students than I had expected, I still wonder how college landscapes across the country would shift (for the better) if Women’s Studies courses became General Education requirements for all. The idea of having every student learn the tenets of feminism and gender theory seems beneficial in every way. Sure, there would be pushback from misogynists in class who think that “there’s no such thing” as gender inequality, but I believe it is better to expose those types of minds to the facts of Women’s and Gender Studies, than for them to never be challenged at all.

Regardless, you will more often than not encounter students who have successfully completed a Women’s and Gender Studies course who say their experience was a positive one, filled with concepts and beliefs that have made them more open-minded to the surrounding world. What is most important is that these programs continue at schools everywhere so that our society can embrace respect and understanding at every stage of life.