Department of Gender Studies.
Studies of Women and Gender.
Women’s and Gender Studies Department.
Department of Gender and Women’s Studies.
Shakespeare has had us believing for centuries that “That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” But how true does this hold in naming an academic department? As someone taking her first WAGS course this semester, I did not expect the class to be gender-balanced. I knew before the first day that the class would be overwhelmingly female, and I had no problem with that. My fellow female students and I should learn about the societal structures that so often lead to obstacles for women. But so shouldn’t men? My class is made up of 27 women and 2 men, but the men participate with equal frequency as the rest of us. They do not seem to shy away from topics that might implicate men in female subordination. This has gotten me thinking: if it isn’t the material of a WAGS course that intimidates male students, what could it be? Could the simple fact that the academic department begins with the word “women” really dissuade more men from studying the implications of gender in various settings? Would the department seem friendlier if it was simply called “Gender Studies” ? Perhaps specifying “women” makes men feel that males aren’t affected their gender. After all, mathematics departments nationally share the same name. The department of English, too, is uniformly named nationwide. Maybe male students gather that it must be significant that departments studying gender emphasize different aspects in their names. Whatever the reason, it is important that more men begin studying gender relations critically. If a simple name change could lead to that outcome, the results could smell all the more sweet.