The State of Women's Studies, 1973, page 4

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          W omen’s

Continued from page 36

The program must be able to pass
this knowledge on to the students.
Programs such as the one begun
at Sarah Lawrence College by his-
torian Gerda Lerner serve as an
example of how an intelligent and
thoughtful program in women’s
history is producing enthusiasm,
scholarship, and meaningful fe-
minist consciousness.

If Women’s Studies programs
fail to attain these goals they have
failed their students. At Rich-
mond, moreover, the failure has
been revealed in a developing
anti-intellectualism whose sup-

. porters oppose disciplined schol-

arship. The emphasis upon purely
non-academic pursuits produces a
dilettantism which may produce a
raised consciousness, and an
awareness of female culture, but
a program in which a female
student can graduate without the
slightest idea of how to write a
paper, construct a logical ar-
gument, or read a book critically
—not to mention understanding of

uuw wumens position 15 main-
tained through institutional struc-
tures such as the family and
knowledge of women’s role in the
work force. If it is not intellec-
tually rigorous, Women's Studies
will continue to fail.

I know some will construe this
article as an attack on Women’s
Studies, or as an attack on the gay
community. I do not mean it to be
either. I have seen fantastic

: things happen to women who dis-

cover their own history and iden-
tity. I have seen women become
aware of themselves and reclaim

their lives. Being part of such a

program has been one of the most
gratifying experiences of my life.

It is precisely because Women‘s

Studies programs are so impor-
tant and can be of such great val-
ue that these issues must be
publicly aired. Conflicts within
Women’s Studies have already
functioned to destroy existing pro-
grams that could have been of
meaning to a varied group of
women. Unless we move seriously
to build a sound and intellectually
rigorous program of Women’s
Studies, open to all women, we
will only be working against the
development of a mature feminist
consciousness among women.