Women's Studies for the Millennial Generation

The feminist movement in the United States is at a crossroads. After several years full of landmark cases, such as the Supreme Court 's rulings in the Hobby Lobby and buffer zone disputes, increased awareness of issues like sexual assault, institutionalized sexism in the workplace and pay disparity, many believe that the feminist movement is facing another challenge: how to articulate its aims to a new generation of women and men.

“Women Against Feminism” has taken off online, as an increasing number of young women feel like the goals and ideals of the modern feminist movement have no relation to their life.

The curriculum of modern feminist and women’s studies classes reflects the shift within the feminist movement. While the feminist movement once focused on the personal, a brief sampling of women’s studies classes shows that the curriculum is now devoted to more removed philosophy and political debates. Put in

Image courtesy of Wikipedia

Image courtesy of Wikipedia

the abstract terms of theory, feminism can seem unrelatable and oppressive, which could explain why such large numbers of young women are eschewing the “feminist” label.

The majority of the women who post on the “Women Against Feminism” site seem to have a misconstrued view of feminism. Many believe that feminism is either about asking for preferential treatment or diminishing the status and rights of men. Absent from these critiques is the stated aims of the general feminist movement, reflected in the dictionary definition of the term, or "the advocacy of women's rights on the grounds of political, social, and economic equality to men."

By devoting more attention in women’s studies classes to how the feminist movement affects the individual lives of young women today, classes could help shape the next generation of feminists, both women and men. College campuses are a microcosm of society, and are a great place to look at the many obstacles that confront women. When 1 out of 5 women on a college campus today is a victim of sexual assault, attempted or completed, there are very real cases in which feminist perspectives must play a part.

If the topics covered in class were more personal to the everyday struggles women face on college campuses, then the hope is that women would understand the value and role of feminism in their lives. Until then, women's studies is limiting the role that in can play both inside and outside of the lecture hall.

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