Monday, July 14, 2008

UK Gender & Women's Studies in its own words

A comment on a previous post points out an interesting thing: the mission statement for the University of Kentucky's Gender and Women's Studies program states explicitly that it is coming from a "feminist/womanist"perspective.

Here is the department's mission statement:
The Gender and Women's Studies Program at the University of Kentucky investigates gender broadly conceived and the cultures and contributions of women worldwide from feminist/womanist perspectives. The purpose of the program is to develop and coordinate an interdisciplinary curriculum in Gender and Women's Studies at the undergraduate and graduate levels; support critical research, teaching and public programming in Gender and Women's Studies that take into account various beliefs about gender, race, class, and sexuality; and foster interdisciplinary collaboration. The Gender and Women's Studies Program aims to serve the University and the Commonwealth through promotion of equity and commitment to excellence.
Now there is a recipe for academic objectivity and integrity if I've ever heard one.

Oh, and here is their "Committment":
The Gender and Women's Studies Program of the University of Kentucky is a feminist/womanist academic enterprise. Faculty share a commitment to research and teaching about the lives, cultures, perspectives, and activities of women worldwide; this commitment includes increasing understandings that what are commonly referred to as "women's issues" are societal issues that effect all individuals, regardless of gender.

...We are concerned to analyze gendered cultural constructions and the effects of patriarchy; but we recognize that women's activities and gender relations occur simultaneously with other hierarchical and unjust social relations and inequalities of power including, but not limited to those based on ability, age, class, ethnicity, family composition, gender identity, race, region, religion, sex, sexual orientation, and the inequitable distribution of resources in and among countries and groups globally.

Gender and Women's Studies is more than a body of knowledge about these subjects: it is a set of approaches and critical frameworks through which to critique, produce, and act upon knowledge. For all our diversity, Gender and Women's Studies faculty at the University of Kentucky are committed to and reflect these commitments in our research, service, and teaching. [Emphasis added]
Diversity? Let's see, under these guidelines we're bound to find a department whose faculty ranges from the far left to the extreme left--and all the great variety of political perspectives in between.

Can you imagine a political science department in a public university that would have, in its mission statement, a stricture that it was coming at political science solely from the perspective of the Democratic Party--or an economics department that limited itself only to "socialist perspectives"?

And has anyone noticed that all of the staff and administration of this department are women? Can we men have our own little ideological fiefdom on campus at public expense that excludes females from its administration and staff in order to promote patriarchy?

This is utterly absurd, but I have the sense that someone is going to try to justify it anyway.

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