Where WGSS Stands Right Now

by Sophia Garbarino, August 13, 2020

This short essay was written for WST 103, Spring 2020.

At first, WGSS (Women’s and Gender Studies) may seem like an irrelevant waste of time and resources. But it’s actually one of the few fields out there that can truly help us solve the numerous complex social, political, and economic issues that plague all modern societies. Because it challenges traditional ways of thinking and stereotypes ingrained in our ways of life, WGSS is now more relevant than ever, and it must continue to be available so that our students can learn the crucial critical thinking skills needed to succeed in today’s work environment.

Modern technology has certainly made it more difficult to distinguish fact from fiction, and even fact from fact. We so often immediately believe what we see to be true that we fail to recognize the underlying factors that complicate what is actually factual. For instance, the epistemologies in America are quite Euro-centric; even our World History classes involve an American activity or perspective in some way. We accept this because we are raised with it. But there are countless other frameworks at play, such as socially constructed gender norms, institutionalized racism and xenophobia, and even traditionally unnoticed ableism. 

Studying the intersectionality of these issues is essential to understanding how to solve them. For example, as Evelyn Nakano Glenn argues in “Settler Colonialism as Structure: A Framework for Comparative Studies of U.S. Race and Gender Formation,” one simply cannot analyze race and gender as entirely separate categories. They continuously influence each other, especially in the United States, which has a high degree of national diversity. They also affect social and economic structures, as Angela Davis points out in “Population Control and Reproductive Rights:” “Inside the United States today, enormous numbers of people of color—and especially racially oppressed youth—have become part of a pool of permanently unemployed workers” (Davis). To fight issues such as poverty, homelessness, workplace sexual harassment and abuse, immigration rights, and LGBTQ+ rights, we must study and analyze these fields together.

Works Cited

Davis, Angela. “Reproductive Rights.” An Introduction to Women’s Studies: Gender in a Transnational World, edited by Inderpal Grewal and Caren Kaplan. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill, 2006, pp. 103-107.

Glenn, Evelyn Nakano. “Settler Colonialism as Structure: A Framework for Comparative Studies of U.S. Race and Gender Formation.” Sociology of Race and Ethnicity, vol. 1, no. 1, 2015, pp. 52-72.