Why I Am Pursuing A Women And Gender Studies Minor

Why I Am Pursuing A Women And Gender Studies Minor

Before even starting college, I knew that I was going to declare a Women and Gender Studies minor.

My reasoning was simple — our society needs people who are educated and well-versed on the topics of gender, sex, sexuality and sexual orientation. It is so frustrating to hear people make such ignorant and condescending comments regarding these topics, particularly while discussing politics, history, human rights and leadership.

I was used to teenagers who tried to shame my intersectional feminist views in high school. I was ready to encounter people in my college classes who held very different beliefs than my own. But nothing could have prepared me for the amount of backlash and intense questioning I would receive from both students and adults outside of the Women and Gender Studies department.

Over the summer, I interned at a music video promotions and production company. I worked in a small office with five other employees: three of the four full-time employees were male and the only other intern in the office was a male as well. I wasn’t intimidated by the male majority, in fact I expected that I would be the only female working in the office because the music industry is generally dominated by men.

Everyone in my office knew that I majored in Communications so they always asked me about my experience working in the radio station or taking a video production class. My major became a critical part of my identity. People chose to engage with me in a particular way based upon assumptions they had made about what my interests and hobbies must be.

During my last week at my internship, my fellow intern and I were eating lunch with the production manager. For some reason, the other intern started talking about his girlfriend and how he was so glad that she wasn’t, “one of those feminist types.” He began to tell my co-worker how he doesn’t believe that there are any major inequalities between the sexes anymore and how he hates hearing women whine about how bad they have it in the workplace.

There were many things about this conversation that made me sick to my stomach. First of all, I was completely ignored in the situation. The two men sat there and made incredibly sexist generalizations about women in front of me, but neither of them bothered to include me in the conversation. The production manager challenged some of the ridiculously sexist comments that were made by the other intern. My co-worker asked the intern how he thought his mother, his girlfriend or any other women in his life would feel if they heard him saying these things. But at no point in this conversation did it dawn on my co-worker to ask me how I felt about the things that were being said. No one thought to consider asking me for my opinion on the topics or to bring me into the conversation.

When I finally piped up and started offering my own insights, my co-worker was suddenly very interested in my opinions on the conversation. I, being someone who identifies as a feminist, wanted to make sure that everyone in the room understood the actual definition of feminism so that any opinion I offered thereafter would be credible.

During my response to the rude comments, I happened to mention a discussion that had been held in my Women and Gender Studies class that past semester and how I was a Women and Gender Studies minor. With that one statement, “I am a Women and Gender Studies minor,” the whole atmosphere of the room changed. My co-worker started apologizing profusely and was clearly uncomfortable in the situation. The conversation came to a screeching halt, before I had even finished sharing all of my thoughts. Yet again, I was being excluded from the conversation.

The fact that I am studying issues related to gender, sex and sexuality should not be the reason that people think twice about the words that come out of their mouths. People shouldn’t all of a sudden become so afraid of offending me that they repress their thoughts and opinions. I want people to talk to me about these issues because I want to learn about how different people view gender, sex and sexuality in various ways. After all, I am a Women and Gender Studies minor because I want to learn about other people’s perspectives just as much as I want to share my own with the world.

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