men in women’s studies classes

I came across an extraordinary article a couple of days ago, about a young man who signed up for a women’s studies class. He was so unsettled on finding himself to be the only man among about 40 women that he did not attend any classes. And when he ultimately failed the course he sued his professor. Check out the story in the link below

On the one hand I find this very funny. On the other it raises all sorts of questions around pedagogy, about the obligations of learners and teachers as well as for the broader aims of social activism and the production of graduates who are critically engaged citizens. How important, for example, is face to face contact and interactions in this age of chat rooms discussion forums and so on? Should the student have discussed his anxieties with the teacher at the beginning of the course? Should the professor have alerted the young man that his continued absence from class would compromise his ability to pass the course? I wonder what my own students think about all this in relation to their own experiences at university. Is he a chancer of note or does he have a point? And more broadly, what does a young man’s anxieties about sitting in a women’s and gender studies class mean for the broader project of gender equity? There are very few men in my undergraduate classes. How – and even whether – we should engage with their absence is an important issue for the feminist professors teaching in women’s & gender studies departments.


About lindsayclowes
Associate Professor in the Women's & Gender Studies Department, University of the Western Cape

2 Responses to men in women’s studies classes

  1. Susan says:

    You have raised such interesting questions Lindsay! “Is he a chancer of note or does he have a point?” … even if the former it raises interesting questions about young men – or the lack thereof – in gender studies classes. Would be very interesting to find out what your students think!!

  2. Pingback: Thoughts of Spending Time With Female Students Overwhelming To Male Student | New African Men

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