April 4, 2002
College text study finds women reading hate maleBy Ellen Sorokin
THE WASHINGTON TIMES
Women's studies programs on college campuses teach students that modern women are plagued by a male-dominated society, an analysis of the field's most widely used textbooks shows.
Marriage is a burden and an "instrument of oppression," according to one textbook. Motherhood is "a mixture of satisfaction and pleasure, plus anger, frustration, and bitterness," says another. And fathers are "foreign male elements" who stand between mothers and daughters, a third book asserts.
Most of the textbooks and course outlines, including those at Virginia Tech and the University of Maryland at College Park, are riddled with factual inaccuracies to deliberately mislead young women and omit the advances women have made over the decades in order to push an anti-male agenda, says Christine Stolba, a senior fellow at the Independent Women's Forum, a nonprofit, nonpartisan educational organization that conducted the review.
"It is a truth universally acknowledged in women's studies textbooks that women have been and continue to be the victims of oppression," Miss Stolba writes in her report, "Lying in a Room of One's Own: How Women's Studies Miseducates Students."
"The books support a large number of factual inaccuracies. Many of these are deliberately misleading sisterly sophistries," she said.
Miss Stolba's analysis has already drawn fire from women's studies professors nationwide, who call the analysis "outrageous" and "right-wing propaganda."
"It's irresponsible," said Magdalena Garcia-Pinto, director of women's studies at the University of Missouri, Columbia, and president of the National Women's Studies Association. "This report totally misrepresents the educational goals of women's studies programs around the country. To claim that all of these programs are full of factual inaccuracies is simply outrageous and doesn't bear any truth."
Miss Stolba reviewed five of the most widely used women's studies textbooks and more than 30 course outlines from major colleges and universities that offer these programs.
The textbooks reviewed are "Thinking About Women: Sociological Perspectives on Sex and Gender," "Women's Realities, Women's Choices: An Introduction to Women's Studies," "Issues in Feminism: An Introduction to Women's Studies," "Women in American Society: An Introduction to Women's Studies" and "Gender and Culture in America."
In addition to Virginia Tech and the University of Maryland, some of the universities whose outlines were reviewed included Syracuse University; the University of California, Los Angeles; and Vassar College in New York.
There are currently 900 women's studies programs across the country; of them, 15 are doctorate programs. Women's studies look at the origins of gender bias and discuss issues currently confronting minority female groups.
Telephone calls seeking comment from several authors of the books were not returned.
Miss Stolba, who said in her article that the textbooks' factual inaccuracies constitute "mythmaking," found these problems:
cIn "Issues in Feminism," freshmen women are told they are "slaves." Miss Stolba reports that she found an extended section on "mind control as an instrument of patriarchy," and a woman's place in society is described as a form of slavery. "An even more perfect form of slavery was one in which the slaves were unaware of their condition, unaware that they were controlled, believing instead that they had freely chosen their life and situation. The control of women by patriarchy is effected in just such a way."
cAcademia is viewed as a tool of male oppression, even though women receive the majority of bachelor's and master's degrees. For example, women earned 55 percent of all degrees in 1996, according to the Gender Center. But Miss Stolba said that "Women in American Society" states: "Lurking behind the 'overt curriculum' in schools is a 'hidden curriculum' that still discourages girls who might otherwise stretch themselves beyond traditional boundaries in intellectual skills and interest."
cScience and medicine is an outgrowth of a male culture, and new medical breakthroughs should not be heartening to women, according to "Thinking About Women." The book states that women have not been adequately represented in clinical trials for new medical treatments, and as a result, "the insights and procedures medical researchers are heralding as advancing medical science have not been at all considered for their implications for women's health."
"It's this paranoid suspicion that's carried throughout these textbooks, and it's ridiculous," Miss Stolba said in an interview. "There are plenty of studies out there that can disprove a lot of these theories, but they're not included in the books. That undermines liberal education."
Women's studies professors argue that Miss Stolba's analysis is biased and inaccurate. "This report is right-wing propaganda. Women's studies isn't at all about male bashing as this group says it is," said Barrie Thorne, a women's studies and sociology professor at the University of California, Berkeley. "It's all about bringing a gender lens into knowledge and into the curriculum."
"We don't hate anybody," said Carol Burger, an associate professor of interdisciplinary studies at Virginia Tech. "We work hard to raise awareness that women can be critical thinkers and that they can be successful, too."
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