5 Reasons You Shouldn’t Major In Women’s Studies

Shutterstock / Complot
Shutterstock / Complot

Listen, I did it and I don’t regret it. But then again, I arrived from Missouri with Big Plans to become a CIA agent until my Arabic professor told me that his people don’t have a word for homosexuality because “it doesn’t exist where he’s from.”

My point is: not everyone can hack it. If you’re ready to deal with the awkward discussion with your dad, the giggling recruiter on the other end of the phone, or the vegans, then, please, by all means, disregard everything below. If you’re questioning, unsure, or just curious, keep reading and know that I am jealous of everyone who has job skills.

You probably haven’t really thought it through.

It starts out innocently enough. Sometimes potential Women’s Studies majors just want a change of academic scenery. One day while sitting in freshman chemistry, you might look out the proverbial window and think, “I don’t care about titration. I just want to listen to people talk in vague, theoretical terms about their personal sexual experiences.” In other cases, you might stumble upon the discipline by accident. Yes, Jane Austen is a talented novelist but think long and hard about why you like her writing. If you find yourself confessing, “Maybe it’s not that I’m drawn to the themes of Victorian literature; maybe I just like female protagonists,” then take heed, child. That’s how they get you.

You will become a crazy person.

For a while, all of the fallout happens internally. You might see a scone at a trendy, locally-owned coffee shop and wonder about whether or not the sugar in the scone was harvested primarily by men or women. And that if it was harvested by women, whether or not that should be considered a triumph for gender equality because women should be breadwinners, too, damnit, or that it’s evidence that women are always being exploited? Or if by questioning the importance of the identity of the farmer, you’re just reenforcing society’s obsession with the gender binary.

Your family will avoid talking about you in public.

Your parents are likely to stop bringing you up at cocktail parties or family reunions for fear of having to concede that they pay $40k a year for you to study “White Masculinity in U.S. Popular Culture” and “Beauty, Fashion, and Self-Styling.” Your mom and dad (or mom-and-mom or dad-and-dad!) seek out new hobbies and experiences for the express purpose of keeping their conversational partners engaged about their lives and not yours. And when college does become a topic of conversation, your parents will probably make a fleeting remark about your chronic indecision. “I think he’s tried nearly every major in the course catalog!” This, of course, only works until second semester senior year when your parents decide unilaterally to tell their acquaintances that you’re an American Studies major.

It’s challenging to obtain gainful employment.

It’s this one that you don’t think about until it’s too late. At nineteen, one rarely thinks about the one day when he or she (or ze!) is going to have to make enough money to pay for cat food and premium cable. Since my college’s idea of a career center was to help people get jobs in consulting or abandon them completely, I didn’t have a lot of guidance about how to position myself in the job market. Technically none of my peers – other than the economics and engineering kids – had any skills either. But at least it’s socially acceptable to be an English major.

People will assume you want to talk about feminism.

If you choose to commit to the Women’s Studies degree, you must be prepared for the inevitable change in all of your social interactions. If you’re male, the response to your academic disclosure, from older straight men, for example, will be to make a joke to change the topic: “You go on a lotta dates, then?” Har har har. Someone will try to relate to you by mentioning that class she took that one time where she read Foucault and it was really interesting. Or someone else will try to talk to you about feminism. This usually waffles between the hyperpolitical — “So what do you think about abortion?” — and the weirdly specific — “I think Disney has gone too far with the female heroes. Now they’re just emasculating the male characters.”

You can always change the conversation by bringing up patriotism, religion, or Donald Trump. TC mark


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  • Barry Manilow

    I concur.

  • c_loan

    yes yes gender studies will absolutely turn you into a crazy person. you will also wonder where the sugar in the scone was harvested and realize that it was probably done for slave wages on sugar cane plantations because of laws in central and south america that are still in place from colonial times, and there’s probably a considerable amount of violence against women in those really poor communities so by buying that scone you’re technically supporting the patriarchal capitalist hierarchy that creates inhumane living situations for those at the bottom of the power structure and is complacent with violence against women…. but at least the coffee shop is a local business.

  • Guest

     Actually, Jane Austen was not considered a Victorian author. The Victorian era was the period of time during Queen Victoria’s reign (1837-1901). All of Austen’s novels were published from 1811-1818, which would put her in the Romantic period. I learned fun facts like this during my time as an English major. Useful in real life? Not really.

  • iminacoma

    Wait, so let me get this straight- you decided to not major in Arabic because of that fact? Did you really not have any idea that homophobia in the Middle East is rampant? I’ve been stuyding Russian for years and been a several times and the situation is very similar here, but it doesn’t get me down. Back home I’m out and proud, and here I just know that things are, to put it mildly, slightly different.

  • RBF

    I like how your scone example points to the intersectionality between feminism, labor, and regional studies. Why do people choose these narrowly focused fields instead of anthropology, history, or sociology?

  • Ky

    As a history major with a women’s studies minor, I have to disagree with most of the article. Quite frankly, you all sound stupid saying that it will “turn you into a crazy person” and you “won’t make any money”. I actually did not find a job with the history degree, but because of my minor I make a more-than-decent amount of money, am well-respected, and in classes I certainly learned REAL history as opposed to skewed classes in my major.

    • http://www.facebook.com/shena.kaye Shena Kaye

      KY, you are awesome…just say’n. Thank you for your feedback on this topic. I am a double major (fine studio art) and (women’s and gender studies). I always get asked…”how on Earth are you going to use that degree in the real world. what a waste of time and money.”

      Well, I did not plan to ever go into women’s studies and honestly didn’t even know it existed really till I had to have a class for my former major. I fell in-love with it the first day. I am a professional photographer and have been shooting for years. Many medical documentaries where I follow patients from other countries (Haiti, Africa, Tajikistan…) and I knew this field would be highly beneficial for me to have a solid base of other cultures and help me make a difference where I am needed. Not to mention you really do cover issues in those classes I had no idea did and still do happen to women all over the world. We are so sheltered from the truths around us. I look forward to bringing as much raw truth to the public using visual proof and being a part of some great changes in the future.

  • Anonymous

    >Why you should not study Women’s Studies
    >Written by Guy Maleson


  • EF222222

    At a time when women’s rights are under attack, an article undermining the legitimacy and necessity of women’s studies is obnoxious and misogynistic. Good thing there is a better written counter-article…

  • Anonymous

    Come on now, Seriously?…
    No one orders Scones anymore. 

  • Guest

    This article is ridiculously ignorant. Fuck you, Mr Scott Hillier (or should I say HITLER? too far? ok sorry about that one)

  • ShesSoLovely

    Shouldn’t this little snippet of writing be titled, “5 Reasons why straight white men shouldn’t major in Women’s studies”? And then the first point should be, 1. Because you’ll clearly never understand it–your privilege is just blinding. :)

    • Anonymous

      Er. Reading comprehension. He’s not straight.

  • lp

    As a Women’s Studies minor, I think it’s pretty obvious that the author’s being facetious here. It’s okay if it’s not funny to you, but no need to get up in arms, or start going off about Hitler or whatever.

    • http://twitter.com/phenomad Scott T. Hillier

      I love you, LP. I think you win.

  • style icon

    It seems like you just don’t care about women’s issues.  You’re complaining about people wanting to talk to you about feminism, when that’s the field you chose for your education?  You realize you’re supposed to pick something you care about and are interested in, right?

  • SMB

    This article is fun to read, obviously about the author and not YOU-the-reader, well constructed, and of perfect length. Thank you, Mr. Hillier. 

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  • Celeste

    Great post! Seriously, I am a woman and I think women’s studies should be phased out of colleges. These women do nothing for men or women and “intersectionality” is just a fancy word for “academic drivel that places everything into a hierarchy of oppression”.

    I met a woman’s studies major the other day and she was so obnoxious that if my friend wants to bring her over again, I will politely decline. Her whole schtick about “whites are soooo privileged and the oppressors of everyone” was really funny coming out of the mouth of a 26 year old white, upper middle class female who still lets mommy and daddy pay the bills.These women have no idea how to reconcile the REAL world (you know, all that icky grey area stuff) with their pseudo-academic tripe. The comment above perfectly illustrates this: “you are so blinded by your straight male privilege!” “He’s not straight”. Slinks away… LOL

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