Not Sure What Class to Take? Try Women’s Studies!

I know, you’ve probably heard it a million times already: the greatest thing about a liberal arts education is the opportunity to explore all different sorts of subjects and fields of study, just out of pure curiosity. No one says you have to stick with science for the rest of your four years, but hey, if you want to try out that one genetics class, go for it!

Which brings me to the topic at hand: women’s studies. Whenever I talk about my experiences taking a women’s studies course here at CNU, a lot of people always respond that either a) you have to be a woman to take a women’s studies course, or that b) women’s studies is all about angry women attacking those helpless men. Of course women’s studies is none of those things, as you will find out if you keep on reading. But even more importantly, knowledge is the key to everything: if you never try new things—no matter how foreign it may seem—you’ll never know anything more than what you did yesterday, and learning should always be dynamic.

Further, people shouldn’t be entitled to their opinions if they talk straight from the mouth without understanding what exactly it is they are talking about—don’t be a parrot mimicking what others say, find out what women’s studies is about for yourself!

It’s relevant and relates to absolutely everything.

When you take the women’s studies course at CNU, you learn about politics, history, economics, sociology and even some international relations. But even when you’re not in class, just pick up the nearest tabloid or “women’s” magazine to see how women are stereotyped and portrayed within society—I put women’s in quotations because you’d be surprised (but not really) to see how much these magazines that are marketed toward empowerment actually reinforce disparaging images of women.

And if you’ve got a newspaper next to your tabloid magazine, take a quick scan of that, too. Whether it’s the-war-on-women or birth-control-violates-our-religious-freedom, women’s health is at the crux of politics at this very moment. It’s getting harder to dismiss these topics as “unimportant social issues”—especially when these issues construct the very heart of societal attitudes and values.

You learn about diversity.

The awesome thing about women’s studies is that it’s not just about subverting sexism. I’ll refer to this as an intersectional approach, which is a concept used to explain how oppressive systems of racism, classism, ageism, along with sexism, are all interconnected and cannot be understood separately from each other. It’s a serious crash course in diversity—you learn about different people’s experiences that might not be the same as your own. My personal experience as a middle-class Asian-American woman, for instance, will be considerably different from that of an upper-class Caucasian man. If we recognize the variety of differences in the world, acceptance, not just passive tolerance, will be possible.

You learn about yourself.

Your self—probably the last thing you think you should be learning about. I mean, you’ve known your self for at least 18 or 19 years by now, what else could there be to know? A lot, as it happens. Taking the women’s studies course at CNU really forces yourself to take a hard look at how you see the world and those who live in it. Not all of it is easy, and sometimes it can be downright uncomfortable. Like when I learned about the white feminism movement that basically ignored the perspectives of minority women? Yeah, super uncomfortable because no one wants to think of themselves as being an oppressor, but knowing is better than not knowing.

It’s about equality, not the hatred of men.

One of my favorite writers, bell hooks, wrote in “Feminism is for Everybody” that feminism needed to be redefined as the movement to end sexism, exploitations and oppression. Isn’t that great? This definition is so great because it makes clear that the problem is sexism (not men), and the goal is equality. If you think about it, the persistence of the media and other institutions to position men and women against each other in a constant battle actually fuels stereotypes of feminists as being angry man-haters. It would be deeply counter-productive for the feminist movement to maintain a hatred of all men who walk the planet; not only would it be harmful to suppress men’s own experiences, but hooks goes even further to say that the movement needs men as allies and friends. (Want to learn more? Read bell hooks’ “Feminism is for Everybody.”)

Tina and Amy … who?

Christopher Newport University is filled with clubs ranging from Habitat for Humanity to Socrates’ Café. The latest member of this dynamic family will be giving Tina Fey and Amy Poehler a run for their money … Presenting CNU Women’s Rugby!!!

No, it’s not an actual women’s rugby team, but it sure grabs your attention, doesn’t it? Founders Maddie Hollyfield and Krista Catalfamo created this female sketch/improv group to give a voice to women comedians and actors. When asked what pushed this creation, Maddie stated that: “we wanted an outlet for women. Comedy is traditionally a boys club, despite the strides female comics have made, and at CNU it’s no different. Yeah, there are a few girls involved in the other troupes but we wanted that one great team of girls: bold, funny, witty women.” Of course, the other groups like CNU Tonight and Initiative are both student-run organizations focusing on performance; CNU Tonight pays homage to Saturday Night Live while Initiative serves as a creative outlet for aspiring actors, directors and playwrights. What makes CNU Women’s Rugby different is beyond being an all-girl group, but rather the push for women making their mark on campus as performers and students aware of the world around them. As Maddie states, “there’s something for everyone on our team, which will hopefully appeal to a wide group of girls.”

So why the name? Because “female rugby players are amazing. All female athletes [are]; [they’re] strong women making their mark by doing what they love. That’s who we are!” Meetings are every other Sunday and the group is advised by Theater Professor, Tanya Sweet. Many of the women of the organization, although still in its early stages, are clever and brave girls who are yearning to make their voices heard. I’ve had the pleasure of having classes and performing in shows with most of these girls and I can honestly say that I’ve never been more excited to see these great performances that will be changing CNU’s campus. Keep an eye out, Captains, for this new innovative group that is sure to keep you rolling with laughter and leave you thinking hours after the performance. CNU Women’s Rugby’s first performance is scheduled the weekend after spring break and they are sure to amaze.

CNU Women’s Rugby: All of the Estrogen. None of the Drama. Pure Comedy.

5 Reasons Why Snow Days Really Are the Best

If you thought snow days were fun in high school, just wait until you get one or two (or three, in my case) in college. It’s a spectacularly new ball game. While snow days in high school were always welcomed, having classes canceled due to wintry conditions while you’re in college is at least 2.4 times better. Why, you ask?

1. It gives you extra time to complete assignments and readings. And, because of how classes are set up by Monday/Wednesday/Friday and Tuesday/Thursday, if a Wednesday class is canceled, you get a three-day, mini stay-cation. During which, you will have plenty of time to finish that paper you had planned to pull an all-nighter to finish.

2. Your sleeping time increases exponentially. Whether you choose to sleep in, nap during the day, go to bed early or some wonderful combination of all three, snow days give you an opportunity to rest and recharge before diving back into the ocean that is education.

3. There is snow, and it is pretty. I know this is blatantly obvious, but hear me out. I’m not even a fan of snow, and I still got excited when those fluffy flakes began falling outside our suite’s window. CNU’s campus is gorgeous, especially when it’s covered in sparkling white. Personally, I think all the red brick sets off the snow perfectly.

4. You live within walking distance of all your friends, so you won’t have to have snowball fights by yourself. While this most recent snow wasn’t too conducive to snowball-making, my friends and I still enjoyed our day off by pelting each other with deformed ice chunks, climbing tiny snow drifts and attempting to make snow angels. Also, CNU’s Great Lawn is a perfect place to build a snowman – there’s enough fluffy stuff to assemble numerous snowpeople there.

5. It’s the ideal time to kick back and relax. Whether this means watching movies with your roommate, trekking to the nearby Panera for a warm dinner or playing board games with hallmates into the wee hours of the morning, a snow day provides you with almost endless opportunities.

Yes, winter can get boring quickly. Yes, it’s less than fun to walk to classes in sub-freezing weather. Yes, I am already daydreaming about summer days spent at the beach. But, just when winter seems at its worst, a snow day or two (or three) can swoop in to save the day (week?). Snow-mageddon, I welcome you with open arms.