In 1819, Lord Byron wrote, “What a strange thing man is; and what a stranger thing woman.” Little did he know, these words would stand the test of time. Men think women are fragile ninnies; women think men are sex-crazed brutes. And no one seems to think anything of people who do not fit into those categories — we are ignorant to identities that lie anywhere but the ends of the gender spectrum.
The ignorance does not stop there. Basic female anatomy can seem like mythology to both men and women. Doctors see cases of severe appendicitis get mistaken for period cramps. Most people are unaware of the different symptoms between male and female heart attacks.
These misunderstandings are not only inconvenient but detrimental to the culture, relationships and well-being of all humans, regardless of gender, identity or sexuality. Given that this university stresses the idea that our education should be used for the betterment of society, it is both logical and imperative that women’s and gender studies courses be required.
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The benefits to mandatory women’s and gender studies classes are numerous, both from an educational and personal standpoint. Educationally, understanding gender identities different than your own often leads to a broader understanding and appreciation of humanity.
Women’s studies classes also improve intimate relationships. A thorough examination of the female anatomy can dispel myths and misconceptions, leading to more satisfactory relations between partners. On top of that, communication between couples often increases, leading to greater trust and emotional intimacy. Put them together, and you have healthier and happier relationships.
Women who take these classes are also better equipped to decide between treatment options for various illnesses, from yeast infections to ovarian cancer. Women also have different precursors for heart attacks, but many are unaware because they are not the symptoms exhibited in film or television. The content of these classes creates a fuller life, and may even lengthen it.
Making these classes mandatory is the most effective way to facilitate these changes, Obviously, the idea of required preventative education is not a new phenomenon. AlcoholEdu and the U Got This! Program are required for all first-year students in order to educate them on the consequences of the party scene.
These programs do not aim to eradicate alcohol or sexual relationships. Rather, they are meant to give students the resources to have a deeper understanding of these habits and how they affect our lives, so they can make the choices that preserve their physical and mental wellbeing. A healthy person can most effectively impact the world in a positive way, fulfilling the Wisconsin Idea badgers strive for.
The idea of general education requirements accomplishes the same idea. Communications requirements ensure that we can connect, mathematics ensure that we can reason, ethnic studies ensure that we can understand those who are different than we are. Each is integral to producing a well-rounded individual that participate in an ever-changing society, as does the opportunity to discern the complexities of gender and femininity.
By making Women’s and Gender studies mandatory, we will gain the knowledge that makes graduates of UW-Madison esteemed and productive individuals.
Let Women’s and Gender Studies be the first step.
Abby Steinberg ([email protected]) is a freshman majoring in political science and intending to major in journalism.