Ms. Massa’s Women’s Studies Class Should Be Required. Here’s Why
Updated: Mar 13, 2019
By: Casey McCarthy
PTS Falconer Staff
February 5, 2018
Ms. Massa's Women's Studies class should be required. Here's why:
1. It’s Like Daydreaming
Once you step foot in class or dive into a page of the reading for homework, when the bell rings or you read the last word of the assignment, your surroundings come rushing back and you realize how deeply emerged in the class or homework you were because of how captivating it was. I was enthralled during a documentary we watched about female genital mutilation because I had absolutely no idea such a horrific cultural practice even existed, let alone continues to this day. In case you are as oblivious to this operation as I was, female genital mutilation is a cruel cultural norm in 30 documented countries, mostly in Africa, the Middle East, and Asia. Female genital cutting is an invasive procedure that involves stitching up the woman’s vagina in order to please their spouses in marriage. Female circumcisions are performed on young girls from the ages of nine to 15, because it is also believed to control their sexual drive. These procedures cause complications in child labor, and increase the risk of newborn deaths. There are three different forms of this operation. The most intrusive one covers the woman’s clitoris, narrows a woman’s vaginal opening, and obstructs the urethral opening. This prevents the woman from experiencing any sexual pleasure and it forces the woman to secrete everything out of one opening.
Ms. Massa’s electric energy radiates through the whole class. It’s easy to tell she’s extremely passionate about what she’s teaching. She takes more work on her plate everyday because she wants her students to get the most out of what she can provide. She’s a real life version of superwoman as she is everywhere at once, balancing her workload and her students’ needs on her shoulders as she continues to sacrifice her own time, and somehow manages to make it all work for everyone. Besides Ms. Massa’s steadfast work ethic, the class includes a final project. You might remember the model runway we had in convocation last year? Every year her students have complete creative freedom to create a project that represents their knowledge of the class but also endorses the idea of spreading our knowledge.
3. Healthy Addiction
I consider Women’s Studies to be my healthy addiction. The class is eye-opening and once you’re awake, you’re always awake. Once you know a tiny bit of information, you can’t ever un-know it. You’ll crave more knowledge as if you’ll never be satisfied. Education should always be engrossing and addicting, but unfortunately that’s not always the case. In Ms. Massa’s class, however, there’s never a dull moment.
4. Applicable to Everyday Life
The class is thought-provoking, and it’s always on my mind. It’s so complex and it addresses such a vast amount of information that it is constantly relevant to real life in real time, like sexual assault in college. We address current political issues as well, like the case over whether or not Brett Kavanaugh should be allowed to become a judge for the Supreme Court. From Sara White’s words, “Women’s studies should be titled ‘life skills and studies.’ The information I acquired regarding all genders was truly eye opening and I continue to use what I have learned from the class on a daily basis.”
5. Women’s Liberation= Everyone’s Liberation
There is a common misconception that Women’s Studies only focuses on women, which is understandable. However, this course encompasses the ideal that liberation for women also means liberation for all. As Rohan Myers said, “This class is applicable to all, regardless of their gender expression and identity. After all, women’s rights are human rights.” By learning about how society has suppressed men and learning about how to improving equality for them, we can also apply these lessons to other genders, ethnic groups, minorities, etc. to help improve their life through treating them as equals and adjusting our laws and altering our standards/practices to further include them as our equals.
6. Evokes Emotion & Passion
Women’s Studies pulls you in like the tides of the ocean and before you know it the shoreline is miles away. It’s difficult not to get swept up in your emotions in this class when you hear stories that are so unbelievably heart-wrenching that they become ingrained in your brain. The examples of the hardships people live through, or don’t, worldwide are the single most impactful part of this class.
7. Inspirational & Empowering
Every class period will leave you feeling as though you have to go out into the world and make an impact; change laws, redirect the behaviors of following generations, end harmful cultural practices, raise awareness, start a movement, join a protest, make a speech in convocation, start a club, etc. This class will make you wonder why no one else is solving the issues we discuss in class. It’s shocking, disappointing, and aggravating. Take the class and tell me you don’t want to go make a difference in the world. I dare you.
8. Promotes Respect & Equality
The class deals with the gender pay gap, society’s expectations/standards, the gender spectrum, and eliminating categories in society, all of which expand our understanding of the limitations society places on people due to their biological makeup and/or identity. As Giovanna Befler said, “Taking the class is getting a closer look at reality so that everyone gets more respect.” Women’s Studies doesn’t paint a “single story”, it portrays all aspects from every angle imaginable. By learning about equality and human rights, and the injustices that the world is currently facing, we are able to see, with a clearer view, how to better respect people for who they are. John Malloy- one of the only boys in our class- said, “I learned to understand the imminent importance of respecting women in all circumstances.”
9. Women’s Studies= Mosaic + Ethics + Psychology + History
It’s a thousand times better than Mosaic because it’s more explicit as it unearths cultural practices like female genital mutilation and honor killing. The topics covered in this class make you contemplate the right response to certain situations-similar to ethics class- like how to address gender orientation (as in asking people how they identify, “Do you identify as he/him, she/her, or they/them?”), and how to respond to a situation if you were a parent of a young girl who was called to the principal’s office for punching a boy as a reaction to him plucking her bra strap. Women’s Studies is also like psychology because both teach about human nature which in turn illuminates life lessons we can all benefit from. As of right now, the class is singularly categorized as a history class since we learn about historical events like the Women’s Liberation Movement which emerged in the late 1960’s. It’s difficult to simplify the curriculum of Women’s Studies into a single category, as it relates to a plethora of subjects, which is another reason why it shouldn’t be singularly titled, “Women’s Studies.”
10. Takes Education to the Next Level
This class pushes you to the edge academically and challenges you mentally as the assignments are endless and every period of this class is filled to the brim with activities, discussions, documentaries, harknesses, and lectures. It’s back to back and very proactive. However, once you leave Ms. Massa’s room you feel unstoppable; it’s as if you’ve run a marathon and it’s glorious. It’s the most rigorous but yet most interesting curriculum I’ve experienced, and that’s how classes should be. Alexandra Miranda worded it perfectly, “Women Studies should be a required course because it enriches the mind about how modern trends have formed while teaching the importance of empathy. Not only learning about how women have suffered, but also how men have been socially oppressed. This course highlights the gender roles and inequality of our society, acting as a pillar of becoming a global scholar.”
This article is part of a Women's Studies series:
Article 1- The Abuse Cycle by John Cyril Malloy IV
Article 2- Invisible War: Rape Culture in the Armed Forces by John Cyril Malloy IV
Article 3- The Elephant in College by Casey McCarthy
Article 4- This one