The higher education establishment now shares the mores of popular culture—as seen in Desperate Housewives and Sex in the City and reality shows like Who Wants to Marry My Dad? —and has turned them from bawdy entertainment to theory, according to a new report from the Independent Women’s Forum.
“Few will be shocked that popular culture sends the message that sexual promiscuity is an adventurous and fulfilling part of life that teens and young adults should experience,” writes Carrie Lukas [pictured], director of policy for the IWF. “But some may be surprised that this message is echoed in some classrooms.”
The report examines what have become common themes in entry-level women’s studies textbooks: that women must break from our male-dominated society by embracing sexual liberation.
“Entry level women’s studies courses targeted to college freshman often assign students texts that imply sexual exploration is a key element of women’s liberation,” Lukas writes. The report is titled Sex (Ms.) Education: What young women need to know (but won’t hear in women’s studies) about sex, love, and marriage.
Lukas excerpts textbooks used in women’s studies courses. The mainstream texts portray marriage as bad, men as oppressive, and promiscuity as liberating.
- From Issues in Feminism: An Introduction to Women’s Studies: “In patriarchy, women in our sexual roles are to function ideally not as self-affirming, self-fulfilling human beings but rather as beautiful dolls to be looked at, touched, felt, experienced for arousal to be enjoyed, consumed, and ultimately used up and traded in for a different model thing.”
- From Who’s Afraid of Women’s Studies: “Women have to be conned into institutionalized marriage and motherhood. She has to be taught that without a man at her side she is incomplete, and without marriage and motherhood she can find no lasting fulfillment. Her desires and life chances thus narrowed, a woman is primed not to rebel against domestic inequities. Feminism promotes such a rebellion.”
- From Thinking About Women: Sociological Perspectives on Sex and Gender: “The feminist movement has inspired among us a new openness about women’s and men’s sexuality and has helped free women’s sexual behavior from its traditional constraints. . .As we discard the notion that there is some single and unchanging way of expressing sexual feeling, we are much more likely to understand human sexuality and intimacy in all their variety and forms.”
The brand of feminism propounded in higher education can have negative effects on its students, Lukas writes. This feminism carries a with-us-or-against-us mantra—either a woman subscribes to its tenets or she has submitted to the “patriarchy.”
However, from many women’s studies texts and elements of the popular culture, a young woman might reasonably conclude that she’s falling down on her responsibility to be modern and liberated if she doesn’t experiment with casual sex or continues to view a physical relationship as something that is appropriate only between a man and woman within the confines of a monogamous relationship—or heaven forbid, within marriage.
Evidence, however, does not support the modern feminist dogma. What women’s studies text describe as “exciting and empowering,” many women often experience as confusing, Lukas writes. Moreover, Lukas reports that married women are happier than their unmarried counterparts—they live longer and more prosperously.
Larry Scholer is a staff writer at Accuracy in Academia.