Final Reflection on Women’s Studies

I’ve been wanting to take WGS210 since I started at Ball State, but it just never quite fit into my schedule, but it was the perfect class to end my senior year. My mother always told me growing up that it was important to learn history so we didn’t repeat our mistakes. I think that perfectly sums up why it’s so important to teach women’s history and women’s studies. Society is too often seen through the eyes of men, but we can learn so much from studying women.

I’m a student in the public relations program and it’s predominantly women, so learning how women communicate and think is vital to my future profession. Having mostly male bosses and mostly women co-workers creates an environment that causes a lot of sexist tension. In journalism, the majority of upper management positions belong to men, but the PR programs at schools are filled with women. Some classes we take here at Ball State truly prepare us to be someone’s employee, never how to be the boss. A professor of mine, a woman who has worked in the PR world for 25 years, once told an entire class of young professional women that we can’t expect to be treated equally, we have to demand it. My professor was right.

Most of our studies in PR are about learning to obey the AP Style Book and learn how to write/speak without offending anyone. It’s common to hear a professor in PR say to us, “If you wouldn’t say it about a middle-aged, white, straight, guy, you shouldn’t say it about anyone else.” We actual promote equality in our writing, but can’t seem to find it in our workplace. That’s why it’s so important to learn about women’s studies and why I’m glad to have spent the last eight weeks becoming a more educated woman.

It’s important to remember that our genders don’t define us. I think that has been my biggest take-away from this class, the idea that we can’t conform to gender roles for the sake of it. Throughout this course we learned about all these different gender stereotypes, myths, and boxes that we are all forced into to create a more organized, and therefore more peaceful living. If only that were actually the case. These gender roles create a path for us that may not be one we’re comfortable with. Individuality is important. Self-value is also important.

My second take away from this course is that privilege is everywhere. Having to make a list of my own privileges was very eye-opening. Even though I feel the struggles of being a woman in our society, there are so many privileges that I’m privy to. It’s important to be aware of our own prejudices and privileges to better place ourselves in the larger picture. We have to remember that it’s not just us feeling the oppression, but that everyone feels prejudice in their own way.

Lastly, I am humbled learning about cultures where women suffer such greater pains than we do here in the United States. Education is the key to an open mind. So much oppression is born out of fear of the unknown. For example, learning about how women in Islam are viewed in their religion can helped me understand the difference between oppression and devotion. Learning about other cultures and how women are treated based on religions, traditions, and progression is important for any one of any gender. Women made up 51% of the Earth’s population so I think there’s plenty to learn about women all over the world.

This class has been about so much more than just women’s studies. I’ve learned about religion, respect, privilege, gender, identity, and so much more. That’s the best thing about discussing the history and communication of women, it encompasses all of those things. You don’t have to be a Birkenstock-wearing feminist like me to know that women are awesome and deserve to be a part of the larger conversation. This has been a really fun class, easily one of the best I’ve had here at Ball State and so I’m going to finish it off with a quote from the best woman role model in my life, Leslie Knope, “If I had to have a stripper’s name, it would be Equality.”