Why do we need to study men – Isn’t history one big study of men?
The most common justification for studying women without studying men is that history is men s studies. women’s studies is just an attempt to give women something equivalent to what men already have. True? No. Women’s studies questions the female role; nothing questions the male role. History books sell to boys the traditional male role of hero and performer. Each history book is 500 pages of advertisements for the performer role. Each lesson tells him, "If you perform, you will get love and respect; if you fail, you will be a nothing." To a boy, history is pressure to perform, not relief from that pressure Feminism is relief from the pressure to be confined to only the traditional female role. To a boy, then, history is not the equivalent of women’s studies; it Is the opposite of women’s studies.
Women’s studies does more than question the female role – it tells women they have rights to what was the traditional male role. Nothing tells men they have rights to what was the traditional female role – rights to stay home full time or part time with the children while his wife supports him. . .
Just as, from a girl’s perspective, history books are filled with men, from a boy’s perspective, school itself is filled with women. It is women teaching him how to be a boy by conforming to what women tell him to do after he’s been trained to conform to what his mother tells him to do. On the one hand, history books show him that his role is to be a hero who takes risks and, on the other, his male teacher is telling him not to take risks – to not roughhouse, not shout out an answer spontaneously, not use swear words, not refer to sex, not get his hair mussed, his clothes dirty. . .Just as women’s studies helped women see they have a right to female teachers in business school, so men’s studies will help men see they have a right to male teachers in grade school.