The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
Ever since I took the introductory Women’s and Gender Studies course (WGST-1000 Women in Canadian Society) as an elective in my first year of university, I knew I wanted to pursue a minor in this Social Science faculty. Women’s and Gender Studies has opened my eyes to the systematic ways women (and men!) are oppressed by patriarchal systems, standards, and values. I’d like to share my favourite Women’s and Gender Studies courses in the hopes that it might inspire more students to try them out:
WGST-2100 Gender, Sexuality, and Social Justice
This course focuses on the sexual identities of women, and how from birth women get cultural messages about their bodies and sexual identities. We looked at issues such as breastfeeding (why are so many people disgusted by this very natural process? How does the sexualization of women’s bodies contribute to this?) and what some of those cultural messages look like (such as adults telling babies, “You’re going to be a lady killer!” and “You’ll have to hold onto her tight, she’ll be catching all the boys!”).
WGST-2200 Women, Race, and Social Justice
This course was a huge eye-opener to me as a white woman, and I’m thankful I took it! We looked at white privilege, and how race is integrated into women’s identities. We analyzed the Bird Cage Effect, whereby women of colour face barriers in their lives that turn into a bird cage, holding them in even when sometimes we can only see one or two barriers and ask ourselves, “Why can’t they just go around it?” Well, that’s because there’s more than just that one or two barriers that we can see.
WGST-2500 Women’s Bodies, Women’s Health
This course looks at the history of biologically cited “evidence” for women’s inferiority to men, and how it doesn’t actually make any sense. We also looked at how the medical field (and it’s history) has contributed negatively to women’s health (such as dismissing and gaslighting attitudes), and we investigated the health and rights of trans and intersex individuals. Trans women are women!
WGST-2800 Boys to Men: A Critical Exploration of Masculinities
Did you know that there are four types of masculinities along a hierarchy, and that every man is placed in one based on his actions, and he can rise and fall, too? The four categories are as follows from the top of the hierarchy to the bottom: Hegemony, Complicity, Marginalization, and Subordination. We investigated and analyzed how these four masculinities interact with race, disability, and sexuality to negatively impact boy’s and men’s lives, as well as how they contribute to violence against women and girls.
WGST-3340 Love, Honour, and Obey: Marriage and Gender
This course looks at the history of marriage, its connection to the systematic oppression of women, and its complicated relationship with race and sexuality. We also looked at how, moving into the 19th and 20th centuries, the changing expectations of marriage created an unhealthy environment for men as well as they were expected to be the dominant earner.
The next time you’re looking for a fun and interesting social science elective, take a look at what the Women’s and Gender Studies department is offering; you might find something pretty interesting! If you think you don’t have the right pre-requisites to get into a class, just email the professor (or better yet, go see them in person) and see if you can get signed in. Women’s and Gender Studies professors are some of the nicest I’ve ever met! There are so many Women’s and Gender Studies courses that I wish I’d had the room in my schedule to take, so don’t miss out on the opportunity!
The biggest thing I want everyone to take away from this is that Women’s and Gender Studies courses are for everyone of all genders and identities! These courses explain and investigate how the patriarchal systems and cultures have negatively impacted the lives of both men and women, and how we can change it for the better.