A women’s studies class at the University of Alabama (UA) that charged students $95 in the fall for a textbook with links to otherwise freely available material dedicated a significant portion of its reading assignments to teach students that gender is subjective and not a matter of biological fact.
The coursework, credited to UA professor Elizabeth McKnight on McGraw-Hill Connect’s website, includes a plethora of left-wing material ranging from pro-abortion op-eds to third-wave feminist “manifesta” to an article suggesting that gender is a “social institution” and advocating for raising “androgynous children” free of “gendered norms.”
In the past, conservative critics have condemned similar “studies” programs at other schools for being unabashedly left-wing, ideologically driven, and encouraging activism.
After first reporting on the Women’s Studies textbook earlier this month, 1819 News read through the course curriculum and found several reading assignments arguing in favor of gender ideology.
In fact, students were not given a single assignment presenting the opposing argument.
One of the longer reading assignments, titled “Voices from Beyond the Sexual Binary” by various authors, presents the underlying “postmodern” case for gender ideology.
“There is a huge and ongoing current critique of Western knowledge — sometimes called ‘postmodernism’ — that is questioning what we know, how we know it and what effect it has on those we know it about,” wrote one of the authors. “And of all the things we know, indeed feel we must know, none is more fundamental than our own bodies. If that knowledge is showing cracks, then what else might be faulty as well? It is this nexus - the models of how we think and the problems posed by bodies that don’t fit the model - that has led to the explosion of interest in genderqueerness and ‘gender studies.”
It later calls Christianity and Western philosophy “intellectual fascism” for believing that truth is objective.
It reads: "Why are we so frightened of difference and multiplicity? Perhaps it is the Western belief in the One True God? Strength, goodness and truth are properties of our God’s oneness. And all those tribes with multiple gods, tribes that were slaughtered by the ancient Hebrews, must have been weak, false evil and duplicitous … Unfortunately, such approach is a kind of intellectual fascism that squeezes out individual truths.”
In the same assignment, one of the authors argues that because “gender is always an artifact that copies something else,” then “all gender is a drag.”
Students were also assigned an article by Verta Taylor and Lila J. Rupp that praises using drag queens to make people accept gender ideology.
"Their performances force audience members to think differently about what it means to be a man, what it means to be a woman,” the authors wrote. “A local gay man described ‘older married couples’ watching R.V. perform ‘What Makes a Man a Man?’ ‘with their jaws hitting the floor. Especially when the eyelashes come off, and the wig and the makeup disappears like that … And they’re like, I think they’re still shocked when they leave that way like, ‘Oh my god, I don’t believe it.’ They want to believe that they’re women, and it’s hard for them to accept that they’re not.’ This is what feminist scholars mean when they talk of ‘troubling’ gender, causing people to think outside the binary of male/female. [Drag queens] are very good teachers.”
Another one of the reading assignments by Andrea Smith is titled “Queering Society” and insists that Native Americans did not have a “gendered” society before the arrival of Europeans. Instead, she said Europeans imposed gender on the natives to dominate them.
“Because we have not challenged our society's sexist hierarchy (which, as I have explained, fundamentally privileges maleness and presumes heterosexuality), we have deeply internalized the notion that social hierarchy is natural and inevitable, thus undermining our ability to create movements for social change that do not replicate the structures of domination that we seek to eradicate,” she wrote. “Whether it is the neocolonial middle managers of the nonprofit industrial complex or the revolutionary vanguard elite, the assumption is that patriarchs of any gender are required to manage and police the revolutionary family. Any liberation struggle that does not challenge heteronormativity cannot substantially challenge colonialism or white supremacy.”
In an assigned video from Big Think, Judith Butler calls gender norms “violent” and insists that gender is a matter of behavior as opposed to biology.
“We act as if that being of a man or being of a woman is actually an internal reality, something that is simply true about us, a fact about us,” Butler said. “Actually, it's a phenomenon that's being produced all the time and reproduced all the time. To say gender is performative is to say that nobody really is a gender from the start."
But this Women’s Studies course isn’t just about women (or even just about people who think they’re women). Students are assigned an entire module on masculinity and men. However, in that module, assignments feature men who reaffirm the idea “there’s a difference between sex and gender” and suggest a “new” form of masculinity that embraces more feminine characteristics.
“A person's sex is what they were born with,” said Jackson Katz in a video assigned to the students. “A person's gender is characteristics that society assigns to people. It's always changing ... When we talk about men and men acting badly, it's not just individuals who burst out on our own. We're products of social systems.”
The first person featured in an article by Nora Camplan-Bricker titled “Voices of the New Masculinity” is a “comedian pushing wokeness forward with jokes.”
Many of the featured “voices” aren’t even men, and it even touts Australian comedian Hannah Gadsby, who called Netflix an “amoral algorithm cult” for refusing to cancel Dave Chappelle.
You can read the full course curriculum here:
According to both McKnight's syllabus, the introductory to women's studies course examines "the roles of women in patriarchal society, with emphasis on how factors such as race, class, gender and sexuality contribute to the oppression of women and ways they can be challenged through feminist critical practices."
Earlier this year, one of UA's campus newspapers accused the class of selling students a textbook that consisted entirely of links to sources they could have accessed for free. In fact, 97% of the e-textbook and courseware students of the class were required to purchase was freely accessible online. The remaining 3% are articles UA students can access through the university's library.
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