Why We Need Men In Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies

Have you ever looked around your classes on the first day to take note of who else is on the roster? No, I don’t mean if your friends or former entry mates are there. I mean have you ever looked around your economics class and noticed a sea of men or only women in your WGSS (women gender and sexuality studies) class? More likely than not you’re noticing the latter. This experience is not uncommon here at Williams. This semester, I am in a 100 level WGSS class for the first time and I have noticed a couple trends. In this small thirteen person class, there are twelve white women and one white male. This is not surprising in the slightest, but it is concerning nonetheless.


It is frustrating to think that people who would benefit most from taking a class on gender and sexuality (primarily cisgender heterosexual men) do not even try to take classes that will broaden their understanding of the world. On the day to day, women deal with the hardships in a society that systematically oppresses women. It is super important to allow and promote safe spaces where women can talk and release their frustrations together in the absence of men. However, in a classroom environment, where the primary focus is to learn and acquire knowledge in a substantive way, there should be a diverse group that will have productive conversations about the subject.


But is there a solution to this issue that affects our school and colleges all around the country on a wide scale? Williams does not want to force students to take a WGSS or LATS or AFR classes, and doing that would create more problems than solve any. So then do we wait for new, more open generations to get into the school to understand the importance of taking a course that exposes them to these subjects? That will surely take a lot of time. There is no easy answer, but something must change in order for the students at Williams to learn more about different narratives other than their own.