Flat White

Reading, writing – and gender studies

1 October 2020

2:53 PM

1 October 2020

2:53 PM

Let’s play a game of spot the odd one out and see how you go. 

New South Wales Greens Senator Mehreen Faruqi, lamenting university funding cuts, yesterday tweeted:

“Yet more devastating uni cuts. This time to valuable courses like maths, IT, gender studies and science.”

One of these things is not like the others.

If you picked “gender studies” as not belonging in a sentence about “valuable courses” like mathematics, IT and science, you’d be right.

This is not to say that a Bachelor (or is it a Bachelorette?) in Arts majoring in gender studies is not valuable. People with ambitions to serve hamburgers — or to join the Greens –- would no doubt find such a course helpful.

But for people hoping university will provide them with actual skills that could lead to an actual job that makes an actual contribution to society, a degree majoring in gender studies is slightly less helpful than a Certificate IV in advanced puppetry.

University of Melbourne associate professor Fran Martin –- speaking in a promotional video on the university’s website — says that gender studies helps students answer “what seem like simple questions about complex fields”.

“How do we know if we are male or female might seem like an obvious kind of question,” she tells prospective students, “but we would suggest answers are more complex than you might initially think.

“We try to offer really innovative and challenging approaches to thinking and researching about these urgent questions for us in the world today.” 

It is difficult to imagine how a young adult might need a few years at university to determine whether they are male or female.

There are two genders. You are biologically one or the other. It’s easy to tell. If you have a penis you are a male. If you have a vagina you are a female.  

Congratulations. You have now not only completed a major in gender studies, but have also avoided $100,000 in student debt.

Now, for the love of God, please invest your time and money in something helpful like mathematics or science. 

But while the Chinese are pouring concrete on coral reefs in our backyard, Greens politicians are worrying that our young people won’t get the chance to spend years learning the difference between boys and girls.

That, in the middle of a catastrophic economic downturn, the Greens see gender studies as a funding priority tells you everything you need to know about their fitness to ever govern. 

And that Senator Faruqi – whom we presume is a woman but, without a major in gender studies, who can be sure – thinks she can smuggle gender studies in amongst math, IT and science, without anyone noticing tells you everything you need to know about the tiny bubble Greens politicians inhabit.

One can only hope that if Senator Faruqi ever embarks on a major in gender studies, she includes a side of science.

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