I often get asked why do I study what I study.
I’m a double major in Communications, which is pretty common; and Gender and Women’s Studies, which when I tell people about it, the common response I get would be something like “What… There’s a course for that?” Yes, yes there is. #GWSMajorandproud
Now what exactly do I study? GWS is an interdisciplinary course whereby the courses that I’m required to partake would have to be from multiple departments such as Philosophy, Sociology, Psychology, English, History, Political Science and yes, even Science. Being an arts major in Malaysia already grants you a “fail” in some parents’ eyes, can you imagine their reaction if you were a GWS major?
Often times I reevaluate my choice of adding GWS as a major. Why do I need to study Women’s Studies? Why do I need to study women’s history? Women’s lit? or science from the perspective of a woman? Aren’t women already featured in normal history classes? See the problem is, the discourses of history books have been told exclusively by the privileged gender: men. Gender studies is not an alternative, but an expansion of traditional historical study in which women are given a voice.
There was a point in my life where I thought I wanted to major in English, literature especially. Then one day I realised that there is a huge disparity in the spectrum of authors that are normally taught to students. Everyone knows Shakespeare and J.D. Salinger but not enough knows Jane Austen or Maya Angelou.
The first chapter of my LGBT Studies class talked about WHY there was a need to examine LGBT history, and we talked about how there is actually, NO history to be studied if this course wasn’t created because you just cannot find representation anywhere.
Representation is why I’m a GWS major.
Representation is why I want to fight this fight.
Representation is why I will continue to push for more people to take up Gender Studies courses (even as a general education subject) to create more awareness of social issues.