Hey Girl: An Open Response From A Dude Who Majored In Women’s Studies

Lars And The Real Girl
Lars And The Real Girl

Hey, girl.

I’m the guy who just finished presenting his term paper proposal on the reclamation and reorientation of the male gaze as a tool for self-affirmation vis-a-vis a certain Ryan Gosling meme. I started off with this clip from Lars and the Real Girl, arguing that the film placed Gosling in a unique position, culturally speaking, to become the locus of a largely female-driven articulation and celebration of companionate romance.

But you know all of that though because we’re more or less in the same mixed bag of American, Gender, and History studies classes that add up to the Women’s Studies major we’re both pursuing.

I’m assuming that you know who I am not because you’ve heard me verbally working through dense blocks of Derrida during what is, for what it’s worth, structured group discussion during class. I’m assuming that you know who I am because I’ve seen you. You’re that girl–one of quite a few–who never fails to make the salient, comment, that leaves us wanting just a bit more.

You raise your hand, as we all do, wait your turn, and when you finally get the chance to lead the discussion for a moment…you kind of squander it with a brief anecdote about this one time something happened to you that the reading reminds you of but not like not really so…I dunno. It’s basically the linguistic equivalent of half-heartedly picking at a meal, stopping halfway through, and deciding not to pick up the fork again in the name of being cordial.

And for what?

It was my understanding that these classes like ours that are the quintessential liberal arts experience were supposed to be places of open conversation and debate. The thinkers that we’re studying didn’t become who they are just by ruminating quietly and taking notes three rows from the back of the lecture hall. They articulated, argued, defended, and yes–in some cases–bullshat one another around the ideas the impassioned them.

I’ll admit there are times where the things that I say come out a bit more asinine than I ever intended them to. Do you think that I don’t know that, though? More to the point, in what way does that make my contribution to the conversation any less intrinsically valuable to the debates that we should be having?

Now mind you I’m speaking semi-tongue-in-cheek on behalf of all of the dudes who’ve ever taken a Womens/Gender/Queer/etc. studies course be it in pursuit of a full blown major or just to fulfill a general requirement in an opportune timeslot. I like to think that I’m not being a blowhard when I voice my opinions about how batshit I’m pretty sure we all think Irigaray can be at times. But maybe I am. That being said though, if you feel that way, say something.

I’ll speak personally from the perspective of being a minority (gay, black man) within the microcosm of the Women’s Studies classroom, a seeming domain of cis, white women.

We need not always expect our allies or those who claim to stand in solidarity with us to fall in exact step with us. There will be those times in which their thoughts and opinions, more than simply contrasting with our own, exist in direct opposition to our own, despite their well intentions. Rather, it is our job as participants in the larger cultural conversation that we are clearly invested in to engage one another.

You think I’m an asshole for speaking in class? Fine. But you’re complicit in said asshole-ery if you’re not willing to speak, out of turn if necessary, and say something about it. TC mark

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