by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Carrie Lukas writes for the Martin Center about questions surrounding gender studies on college campuses.
“Class discussions trend towards group-therapy sessions,” wrote Toni Airaksinen in 2016 for Quillette. At the time, she was studying at Barnard College and described moving from an initial infatuation with gender studies to seeing it as an “absurd intellectual alcove where objective truth is subordinate to academic theories used as political propaganda.”
This lack of grounding in objective truth and the dismissal of facts and knowledge as patriarchal constructs is at the root of criticisms of gender studies. Gender studies advocates were understandably shocked by the recent decision of the Hungarian government to withdraw accreditation from gender studies programs, and the move was condemned by the Association of University Professors as “directly interfer[ring] with the academic freedom of researchers and teachers.”
Certainly, anyone interested in academic freedom should be concerned when the government has the power to decide what can—and what cannot—be studied at universities. Students, rather than governments, should determine an academic discipline’s value. However, the bad news for advocates of gender studies is that careful consideration of the merits of this discipline will lead most students in a different direction.