Gender Studies—Why?

Originally published on Yahoo! Answers Blog on July 23rd, 2010.

We’re adding to the debate stirred up by Hana Rosin’s July cover story “The End of Men” for Atlantic Monthly magazine and its counterpart column by Nicholas Kristof in the New York Times, “Don’t Write Off Men Just Yet”.

Our Answers Team community managers have had some interesting discussions on the topic and Graziana (our Latin American community manager) and I thought it would be fun to bring the discussion to our virtual table under the sub category “Gender Studies.”

The main focus of this section is to exchange points of view and experiences concerning the roles of males and females, taking into consideration psychological, anthropologic, economic, and historic aspects. It is a place to discuss the meaning of “being male” and “being female” and their constant redefinitions. We encourage a healthy debate about the stereotypes and limits imposed by culture and biology. To quote one of my favorite French philosophers Simone de Beauvoir (a pioneer in gender studies), “Gender is used to refer to the social and cultural constructions of masculinities and femininities, not to the state of being male or female”.

Curiously, “gender studies” has been focused from the beginning around the “feminine being” as a reaction against the complete absence of feminine perspectives in social sciences. The new social science was part of a bigger movement to claim equal participation for women in all spheres of social life.

Today, many feel that goal has been mostly achieved and there is arguably little need to devote a space exclusively to study the “female being”. On the contrary, many think there is a need to open the game to include the “male being” and the cultural shifts that have been taking place as a result of that equality—think stay-at-home dads and the like.

To the users who have been complaining about “feeling like laboratory specimens” or “being targeted by chauvinistic and degrading remarks,” we want to remind the community that this category wants to host a comprehensive and balanced debate. We don’t want to aim solely at women! Gender refers both to male and female.

Do you participate regularly on this category? What has been your experience with gender topics? Share your comments with us.

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