Disclaimer: This isn’t a journalistic story. It’s criticism on the classroom environment, so unless you don’t mind reading some of my concerns about a particular academic course, you may not want to read this.
I once had many issues with my Women and Literature course, which focuses on the study of female subordination in all time periods. It’s true that women have endured much from sexist men, myself included, but I chose a long time ago not to hold any resentment for the way women were once treated. There’s no reason to still be upset about the Malleus Maleficarum, the witches treatise which targeted intelligent, free-thinking women in the 15th century.
I used to complain about the course’s one-sided reading assignments, but as I’ve stated before, I love my brilliant professor, and even though I don’t agree with her political views (she told me which 2008 presidential candidate she voted for and said it was time for political change), I respect her greatly and have accepted her curriculum.
The biggest problem is not the arguably liberal slanted required reading list. It’s the actual class of students. Some of my classmates have ruined the classroom atmosphere.
Whenever the professor mentions an old sexist belief of men, students laugh. One particular student laughs every two minutes, and on one occasion, she busted out laughing when the professor stated, “Aristotle said women were equivalent to animals.” Yes, the notion is ridiculous, and some of the BC ideas are laughable now, but it’s inappropriate and inconsiderate to laugh every few minutes just to be obnoxious. The class doesn’t care that one student is appalled by what she hears, and we don’t need her opinion reinforced fifty times in an hour-long class period.
Not only does the motivation behind this laughter bother me, but it’s distracting to have a laugh track in class, and I’m someone who laughs at everything, when it’s appropriate, of course. I have a good sense of humor, but I know when it’s not appropriate to laugh, and I highly doubt these women laugh in all seriousness in class.
Then there’s the moaning and interrupting. This same student constantly interjects when the professor is speaking. Even if the student is excited about class, it’s so disrespectful to cut the teacher off and try to beat her to the punch. We all know you’re well-educated on history and women’s studies, but there’s no need to show off and try to outdo the professor. I can tell the teacher doesn’t think it’s cute anymore.
We studied the bible at the beginning of the semester, and one girl said with a shaking voice, “They have to murder the animals in this passage,” even though the characters did not kill the animals out of malice. They simply had to eat. Everything that men did in the bible seems to be scrutinized by my classmates, and I feel very sorry for the only male in the class. He says nothing, and I’m not shocked. I wouldn’t want to be in a class where everyone constantly bashes my gender.
Today, we read Sojourner Truth’s (née Isabelle Baumfree) Ain’t I a Woman?”, a powerful speech about female and racial equality. She mentions once in her story that she has thirteen children, though this is an irrelevant detail with regards to the speech.
Not to some students.
“Since Sojourner Truth was a slave, were any of her 13 children a product of rape or molestation?” some girl asked, and this had absolutely nothing to do with the content of the text.
Slaves were often raped because of their vulnerability, but this question had nothing to do with the class discussion, and even the professor seemed to hint at this when she explained that none of us can ever know the answer. Another more sensible student finally said that she didn’t think someone as strong as Sojourner Truth would permit rape or sexual violation. If you’ve read the speech, you’ll probably agree.
I spend much of the class period tuning out my classmates’ constant laughter at the sexist ways of males in the past. Sometimes, I wonder why they’re so angry at men. The professor definitely isn’t bitter, but much of the class seems upset about something, and I can see that a few classmates have chips on their shoulders.
At the end of class, one student who usually expresses interest in the material approached the professor and said, “As always, wonderful lecture today. Thank you so much.” It didn’t seem sincere, even though she does love the course. It seemed a little more like sucking up, especially since this girl fell asleep last class period, and even the professor didn’t have an extensive response to such an ingenuous compliment.
I really hope you’ve never had a class that has been destroyed by rowdy, pompous classmates. I thought this was unique to high school, when students act like this because they’re antsy in class, but no one in my course is bored. They’re just trying to put on a show and demonize men while they’re at it.