Gender studies refer to an interdisciplinary sphere of study and academic field dedicated to gender representation and gender identity as fundamental classes of analysis. This sphere of study deals with LGBT studies, Men’s studies, and Women’s Studies, which concerns feminism, women, gender, as well as, politics. At times, Gender studies are usually offered with Sexuality studies. As noted by Essed, Goldberg, & Kobayashi (2009), these subjects deal with sexuality and gender in fields of political science, history, language, literature, sociology, human development, and law, among many more others. Yet there has been a serious debate as to whether gender studies should be for both genders. Most gender classes today are clearly dominated by women. Men still lag behind in enrolling for gender studies citing different reasons. This paper discusses gender studies into detail and the reasons why men still shy away from gender studies. Nonetheless, a lot still needs to be done to strike a balance in gender studies. As it appears, men are not yet ready to embrace gender classes.
Gender studies have had an interesting historical background. It surfaced from the current feminist movement. Its original aim was to bring women together with their experiences more wholly into focus. In the 1980s, scores of feminist scholars started to discuss the issue of gender in itself, how they vary from one culture to the next, how they define male and female, masculinity and femininity among many more. As Spector (1986) points out, this was just the beginning of a whole lot of other studies to be included as discussed. For many years, it was just a subject that only one gender embraced because it exclusively dealt with women issues. Of late, however, feminist scholars have once again sought to include men in these studies, thereby sparking off a fierce debate as to whether gender issues relate to men. Women would not mind men being in their classes, but men still “fear” enrolling in gender classes for a variety of reasons. This is where the clash begun; men still view the idea as women oriented.
A number of people believe that men can play a significant role in inclusion and diversity efforts, particularly to eliminate gender bias and other gender related issues. Hitherto, men remain an unexploited resource in these gender initiatives. For this reason, several groups have rolled out plans to find the most valuable ways to work with men in gender studies. According to these groups, men who will end gender bias are those who engage in gender studies. Despite all the hype, why are there only a handful of men involved with gender studies to fate? First and foremost, most men assume “gender studies” is a default feminine subject. Arguably, most of them equate gender studies to women studies. For this reason, few men would want to wander to that side of the discussion. When it is time for women to engage in gender studies, men continue working on what they were dealing with before, certain that the subject is being handled carefully. Of course, gender is a two-sided matter, but what happens when one side of the conversation sits quietly and contributes nothing.
Another reason as to why men are not that much involved with gender studies is because they are not familiar with such studies. Tarrant (2008) thinks that this could be linked to three broad reasons: political, cultural, and pragmatic. First off, very few men tend to see gender as a pressing part of their identity. Despite all the improvement in feminism, a few scholars, for instance Susan Pinder in “The Second Sex”, point out that masculinity is still an issue belonging to the default gender. Most of the improvements in gender issues as pointed out by Martinson (2012), has been to make the traditionally male roles somehow accessible as to many women as possible, for instance, women pursuance of careers and working for long hours outside their homes. However, not much critique has been forwarded towards the virtue of worthiness of living such a lifestyle. Consequently, men still do not feel threatened when more women enter the workplace because they do not have to change their lifestyles to accommodate women. A good example is that women still do most of the house chores even if both of them work. With the present trends of female enrollment in institutions of higher learning, gender roles are likely to become more pressing in the near future. Should men suddenly become minorities in these professions, there could be a sparkling interest in what means to be male in modern history, literature, and society.
Another bone of contention is the issue of political impediments in gender studies. In view of this, a number of men wonder where their voices will ever be heard in the women-dominated field of gender studies. This is not to suggest that they will be overtly sexist, but men wonder whether they will have to fight hard battles to justify their perspective. This point, if not addressed, will continue to deter many men from entering this field. As it appears, gender studies seem to align itself with queer hypothesis. Men, especially from conservative religions, would fear engaging in gender studies. Moreover, most people tend to assume that academic subjects mirror a person’s deepest life interests. However, every person is aware in this era of specialization there is need for a calculated maneuvering for one to find a respectable job offer. Consequently, there is little motivation for men to pursue a field that they find it hard to penetrate. For these reasons, many men still shy away from gender studies.
There have been different views in regards to gender studies. According to one researcher, gender studies persuade students to recognize the restrictions of a victim-centered point of view about womanhood. These are clear words that show biasness in gender related issues. As it appears, the patriarchy theory is omnipresent; the notion than men control women. However, research points out that, women appear to control men interpersonally. The problem is not that the male species do not have interest. According to many of them, there is a fear of feminism. In reality, men appear to be deeply valued in gender studies, not detested as the living patriarchy.
In my view, a lot still has to be done if Gender Studies is to be totally accepted in the society. I would not mind studying gender studies to add to by resume; however, I do not think I would feel comfortable in such a class because classes will still be full of women. I am not gender-sensitive, bit the situation calls for more insight. As one friend put it, men have to get involved for gender studies to survive. Another man I conversed with recently said that he does not recognize gender studies as being that important. According to him, women rights take a higher place than gender studies. In this regard, he would support women rights and avoid getting involved with gender studies. He thought that the gender courses were too critical to male-dominated reality.
As one student voiced, he will be put off if he was enrolled in a gender studies course. He feared that all the assumptions made about his sexuality will be too uncomfortable and arduous to explain. He was also afraid of what his parents and peers would think. His conservative family would regard him as a failure. His friends too will think of him as a sissy therefore, he would experience problems finding a lady. These are just but a few of the sentiments voiced by many men opposed to the idea of gender studies. While there is nothing wrong with gender studies, clearly, there is still a lot to be done towards ensuring that the discipline is well accepted within the male-dominated society. In reality, women students are usually extremely protective of the few men in their study groups under this program.
In conclusion, gender studies will continue to elicit mixed reactions from both men and women. Nonetheless, it remains clear as stated by sociologist Helen Lindberg that gender studies has several weakness because it depends on feminist social theories, which are plainly based on ideological foundations, hence provide a colorful picture of the whole society. These feminist theories tend to lack interior coherence, thereby availing minimal practicability in accommodating empirical support. Theorist and Historian, Bryan Palmer has countered gender studies by arguing for the need to analyze structures of power and subordination and live experience. Even Pope Benedict XVI has warned against gender theories and studies that they could distort the distinction between male and female, thereby ending in the demise of the human race. Nonetheless, most women, especially feminist authors and scholars continue to push for this course. Gender studies have had some influence in this era; it has particularly been affected by the post-feminism emergence. Perhaps, it is essential that all parties discuss the cause for this whole issue. If Gender Studies is to continue and cover men too, then men should get involved.