The Corner

Education

Is There Any Intellectual Value in ‘Gender Studies’?

The academic “discipline” of gender studies (including women’s studies and the like) recently got all hot and bothered because it was mocked by the famous Portland State hoaxers. How dare anyone make fun of them!? They’re doing cutting-edge analysis of society’s ills!

Quite a few people, however, think that gender studies deserves mockery. It’s not really an intellectual enterprise, but ideological posturing. Among the critics is Carrie Lukas, president of Independent Women’s Forum and in today’s Martin Center article, she explains her position.

Unlike other academic disciplines,” she writes, “gender studies and its antecedent, women’s studies, are explicitly linked to an ideological movement with a specific political purpose. The National Women’s Studies Association’s constitution, passed in 1982, described the relationship between the academic women’s studies field and the feminist movement.

Gender studies is not about trying to understand the world, but is all about trying to change it in certain ways. It doesn’t seek to convey a body of knowledge, but just a set of grievances. Students receive a not-to-be-questioned ideology and the research in the field is tendentious. Education has been turned into a political tool. We’re wasting resources on this, as well as the other varieties of grievance studies.

Lukas concludes:

Women’s role in history and society, as well as how cultures approach issues related to gender, are areas worth academic inquiry. It’s unfortunate, however, that gender studies programs today are so wholly intertwined with one specific and extreme political ideology that those outside of the discipline at least have little reason to assume that these topics are being fairly and thoroughly analyzed.

George Leef is the director of research for the John William Pope Center for Higher Education Policy.

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