Women’s Studies: A Love Letter

By Mari Vangen
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This is a guest post written by Hollie Davis. Hollie is a Women’s Studies Major at Denison University in Ohio and a member of the campus AAUW group.

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Feminism has always represented the integration of domestic and foreign policy for me. I really gravitated toward this discipline because it bridged the gap that existed between political science and international relations on this campus. While I came to my school as a Political Science major and a Studio Srt minor, I quickly learned that the program here is heavily theoretical and avoids current issues in order to remain nonpartisan. I couldn’t dismantle my convictions to placate the standards of the discipline especially with a $60,000 a year price tag. I knew I belonged to a discipline born from activism, radicalism, and revolutionary change so I chose women’s studies.

As Tupac said in his song Keep Ya Head Up,

” You know it makes me unhappy

When brothas make babies, and leave a young mother to be a pappy

And since we all came from a woman

Got our name from a woman and our game from a woman

I wonder why we take from our women

Why we rape our women, do we hate our women?

I think it’s time to kill for our women

Time to heal our women, be real to our women

And if we don’t we’ll have a race of babies

That will hate the ladies, that make the babies

And since a man can’t make one

He has no right to tell a woman when and where to create one

So will the real men get up

I know you’re fed up ladies, but you gotta keep your head up”

At 50% of the global population, women are the biggest minority in the world.The global community’s commitment to their (our) full human rights are as controversial as ever. I started this paragraph with Tupac because women’s rights are human rights and without their guarantee, women of all industries and walks of life are affected. Even though rap isn’t the first thing that comes to mind as a feminist issue – from some perspectives the way our society reacts to its rhetoric about women is indicative of our cultural values of female autonomy.

I love the integration between women’s studies and other disciplines as I mentioned earlier. I am able to integrate my women’s studies and studio art practice and that has made me much more perceptive to the world. I won the Nan Nowik Award for Artistice expression for my portrayal of musicians and how my process of creating work aligned with Patricia Hill Collins tenets of feminist thought including knowledge as a criterion of meaning. My artwork also explores how emotion and knowledge are not contradictory forces but are intimately connected in how we legitimize and validate reality. My artwork portrays that my dealing intimately with issues of identity and representing the multiple consciousness that comes with a marginalized identity.

I wish so many things were better and easier along this path. I wish there were more jobs for feminists. I wish professors prepared us more for than grad school. I wish there was feminism in high school. I wish more people understood what women’s studies before they got to college. I wish college administrations weren’t so willing to ignore sexual assault and create the most bullshit policy and then celebrate when they have 0 reports for a year even though a lack of reports doesn’t indicate a low crime rate. I wish when I said I was a women’s studies major people didn’t ask me what that was. I wish when I told people I was women’s studies major they didn’t shake their head and say, “Well you GOT to go to graduate school with that.” I wish more internships listed “women’s studies” under “desired majors” I wish feminism wasn’t so segregated. I wish I didn’t constantly see white feminists leading and WOC put in a multicultural drawer and brought out only when they say the word ‘intersectionlity’. I wish Kimberle Crenshaw, Dolores Huerta, and Angela Davis weren’t names you met at the undergraduate level. I wish feminism came with healthcare benefits. I wish feminism came with good friends (but nothing can guarantee you that), and most of all I wish that people wouldn’t just claim their rights, I wish they would fight like hell for them.

I’m not sure why you or anyone else is interested in why I’m studying this. Why does it matter to you if I care about the world in this way. Why does it matter to you that women’s studies allows me to validate my own autonomy? Why does my knowledge of world affairs and the social constructs that perpetuate them matter to you? Believe me I ask these questions to myself daily. There is so much power in studying yourself, your story, and studying how that story aligns with people all over the world. Maybe it makes me feel less alone. Maybe it makes the world feel less intimidating. Maybe it teaches you to believe in yourself despite what people tells you is possible. All I know for sure is that is pays in leaps and bounds to establish your own autonomy in your field of study in college.

By Mari Vangen

Mari Vangen is a National Campus Organizer with the Feminist Majority Foundation. A proud Minnesotan, Mari loves her bike, watches Broad City religiously and is passionate about all things related to whales. Mvangen@feminist.org

1 comment

  1. I willl share with everyone i know. I believe that are work is and never will be done as women. We must demand that our voice be heard and continue to make a difference. I enjoy reading ths Hollie.thank you for not being afraid to express yourself in writing. I am waiting for your novel it will be,a best seller. Your Auntie Elise loves you so much.

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