Rationale for changing the name of the Department of Women’s Studies to
the Department of Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies:
- The discipline of Women’s Studies focuses on gender analysis. Therefore, many Women’s Studies Departments founded in the last decade are now called Gender Studies.
- Calling the Department simply Gender Studies would ignore the 29-year long history of this Department’s struggle to make scholarship on women visible and important on this campus. While that effort has succeeded in many areas on campus, it is by no means completed, nor is it ever secure.
- In many ways, the change simply brings us into line with what we already do. Women’s Studies has included courses on gender in our curriculum when they clearly demonstrate an understanding of the disciplinary perspectives and scholarship of Women’s Studies. That perspective centers on understanding the personal, symbolic, and institutional processes by which gender intersects with race, class, sexual orientation, and other hierarchies of difference. Including Gender and Sexuality in the title along with Women more accurately reflects the state of the discipline, highlighting the need to both change and persist.
- Including Gender and Sexuality in the title thus reflects our need to examine, as do several of our courses, how racial stereotypes are gendered, and how those genderings revolve around stigmatizing and idealizing gender-and race-specific notions of sexuality.
- Including Gender in the title also reflects our need to examine the construction of both femininities and masculinities and their relationship to each other. Our “Violence Against Women” course, for example, challenges false cultural assumptions about masculinity such as the belief that violence against women is inevitable and embedded in the human psyche.
- Including Gender in the title would foster the development of masculinity studies on this campus, a growing field of scholarship internationally, and of interest to several of our UW-L colleagues.
- Including Sexuality Studies would provide a visible home for LGBTQ scholarship and teaching that simply the name Women and Gender Studies could not.
- Including Sexuality Studies would also foster inclusiveness for LGBTQ identified people on campus and in the La Crosse community.
- Including Sexuality Studies would open the door for the development of scholarship on sexuality, especially from the other departments (Psychology) or even other colleges, (SAH).