First Women's Studies Department In Nation Celebrates 50 Years
Speaker 1: 00:00 The goals behind the protest in Tijuana and other international women's day events were similar to those 50 years ago when San Diego state university founded the first women's studies department in the country. This spring semester, SDSU educators are celebrating the 50th anniversary of that department and while there's much to celebrate, there still a long way to go in the workplace, in the home and in politics for women to take their rightful place in present day culture. Journey me are Doreen Mattingly, a professor and the chair of the department of women's studies. Doreen, welcome. Thank you Maureen. Nice to be here. And who am I admit gauche, a professor in the department and who used to be the chair of the department and welcome. Thank you very much. My pleasure to be here Doreen. I think sometimes people are surprised to learn the San Diego state university had the first women's studies department in the country. What prompted the school to take such a big leap back in 1970 Speaker 2: 00:58 so at San Diego state, like in universities across the country, there was a great deal of student and faculty activism pressuring the university to offer courses for credit and offering courses for non-credit. Kind of outside the formal structure. You know, being first really means that it was the first to be approved and the, the experience of Mexican American studies, which is today Chicano Chicano studies a year before really paved a way for women's studies to be quickly approved. And so I think that that was a key factor in the Senate and the college, you know, allowing it to be offered for credit so quickly. Speaker 3: 01:36 I know, yeah, I think I agree with Doreen. And then it coincided also with young women coming out of the women's movement toward attending university at SDSU, forming a reading groups, teaching groups and women faculty in different departments willing to offer courses, which again coincided with a Dean, Dean marinee, who was married to a feminist Elsa, who also worked on campus to just, you know, move forward and create a program which later became a department. How much, can you tell us a little bit about how the program has changed over the years? The like Dory now to have been here 25 years and had a foot in anthropology, Asian studies and the center for Islamic and Arabic studies. So it's been interesting for me to see how the women's studies program, the department has developed. And I think one of its strengths has been that it has kept up with the times and the demands for social justice. Speaker 3: 02:41 So it's not just about women and women's rights, but also LGBTQ and transgender. And we've done that through the Arcos offerings through more recent hires. And I think we pretty often are more of an activist, a department. So students are attracted to our major and minor because of that. And that has helped us do not just survive but to thrive. Hello. What are the big topics in women's studies now? Transnational feminism is a talking about ethnicity and race in bigger ways. A inclusion of LGBTQ issues also. And I think where our department for our college took a step in the right direction was internationalized the program too and helping students to travel abroad and get a new perspective or a different perspective on women and gender issues during bringing the conversation to the present day. It's been distressing for some women to see weak support shown for too strong female candidates for president. How do you account for that? Speaker 2: 03:50 So women in politics was my field and I can give you a full lecture about this, the masculinity of leadership, particularly the executive branch. Um, and the way that we understand the duties of the president to be like what we understand masculinity to be like. And the difficulty that women have both establishing themselves as a strong leader and as a good woman. And there's a kind of a balancing act, which is almost impossible because there are never going to be more male than the man. So I think that's part of it. I think that this is a context where misogyny is acceptable, is an acceptable form of political discourse and not that many people have the tools to unpack it and to think, you know, that's just flat out misogyny that that is your argument and uh, I'm start people get persuaded by it because the, you know, online is so saturated with it that I think the needle has moved on. You know, how much is acceptable and in public discourse. How long do you think it'll take Speaker 3: 04:56 to have a female president? Let me ask you about, let me start with OMA. Uh, I hope sooner than later and I hope in my lifetime, uh, we are getting closer to the idea and the concept and I will confess that I'm very, very disappointed. I thought to name one, Elizabeth Warren would definitely have been up there. Uh, it, uh, surprises me, especially as an anthropologist because I think we live in a bubble. Sometimes we think things are changing faster than they really are. And maybe these are the moments when we have to self reflect, especially in an educational institution to see why things are not moving in the directions we expected them to. And I think these questions are brought about by the lack of popularity of women candidates, even though they are, you know, competing equally or better and more efficiently. But uh, they're not able to sway the masses for some reason in a developed country like the U S because when I look at Asian countries, we have had women leaders. Speaker 2: 05:54 How long during? Well, that's a question that I kind of continual progress, right? So that's one way of looking at it. And another way of looking at it is my, we have reached the peak and that we're, we are now moving backwards. And I think it's a very open historical question as to whether, you know, what we're experiencing now in terms of the aggressive misogyny that's being tolerated is just the blip or the beginning of a shift in women's power and public roles. Well, I was thinking that this last question of mine was rather silly, but based on what you just said, what do you think the program, the women's studies program might be like in another 50 years? Will we still need women's studies? Well, yes, we still need them studies. There is a revolution and the rest of the university, um, even though many people across the campus talk about gender, talk about women in different contexts, we pick the experiences of people who identify as female at the center of what we do, right. Speaker 2: 06:57 There's the, and then rethink our categories, our disciplines, our topics from there. And uh, there's no other place in the university that does that. It's a really a revolution of scholarship because then you begin to realize how much the categories that we take for granted are not based on the lives of people who identify as female. If you think about the concept of work, work versus family, well anybody who does, who does the primary tasks of caring for family will tell you work and family are the same thing. Why would there be different disciplines for them? Why would economics not talk about the family? And so even the very definition of the disciplines comes from, uh, some stability that is unlike the lives of many women. And so I think that that women's studies is and continues to be and hopefully will continue to be a revolutionary form of knowledge. Thank you, professor Doreen Mattingly, who is the chair of the San Diego state department of women's studies and Houma. Akhmed gauche, a professor in the department. Thank you both so much. Thanks so much, Maureen. Thanks so much. Bye bye.