hat's Right With Men?" If all you women are screaming "Nothing!", pipe down - it's actually a course title at Albright College in Reading, Penn. And no, the subject matter isn't sarcasm. It's men's studies, a field that's the focus of more than 500 courses offered at schools across the nation.
But don't expect burping or flatulence to be on the men's studies finals, because these classes deal with serious issues like domestic violence, sexual abuse and confronting pornography. Although there are hundreds of testerone-enhanced courses out there, you probably won't find them under "Men's Studies" in your course catalog. Instead, they muscle their way into other departments. And some have even been known to dress in drag, like the women's studies class at Cornell U., "When A Girly Girl Meets A Manly Man." Men are reaching for equality in gender studies, but they're still outnumbered.
Troy Kirkpatrick, a '97 Ohio U. grad, was one of only two men among 13 women enrolled in "The Nature Of Men." "It was a course about life more than anything else," Kirkpatrick says. "And the feminist perspective [from the other women in the class] made it realistic."
For many males, men's studies at Dartmouth College hits close to home - but never below the belt. One course, "The Masculine Mystique," explores why young boys are more threatened by the term "sissy" than girls are by the term "tomboy." "Any kind of gender study benefits by inclusion of both genders," says Monique Jones, a grad student who took the course last summer.
Although you can't yet earn a degree in men's studies, Sam Femiano, founder of the American Men's Studies Association, predicts that colleges will eventually unite men's and women's studies under the umbrella major of gender studies. This proposed union makes some students nervous. "At the core of women's studies is giving air time to women's issues," says Lindsay Davis, a senior women's studies major at Cornell U. "Understanding masculinity is important, but I worry about it detracting from the study of the female experience."
Some men beg to differ. Bob Franklin, assistant director of residence life at Mary Washington College, Va., is one of them. As an undergrad in the early '90s, Franklin took "Psychology of Men" at Mary Washington. Women's issues, particularly domestic violence and sexual assault, should also be considered men's issues, he says. "It's like we had this dam that had some leaks," Franklin says. "So we taught the people in the dam how to swim. But we never fixed the dam."
Maybe men's studies classes will give guys the tools they need to fix that dam for good.
By Jodie Hamill, Cornell U.
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