Women's Studies or Gender Studies
I received this email from a student about a class assignment:
"We have to ask 3 faculty members to briefly describe the relationship between women's studies and gender studies... Whether or not they're the same, similar, and/or different. Just something short and sweet would be awesome!"
To me, women's studies focuses on looking at women's experiences and taking their reality (say, the level of harassment and violence) seriously. It then needs to explain why this experience gets erased and the implications of taking this reality seriously. Because men oppress, I can see that there is some place for critical studies of men and masculinity within women's studies, but gender studies seems more obviously to include the study of masculinity. Also, at least some of the change that men should do is for themselves and to reduce the violence against other men - and I'm not sure that women's studies is the appropriate disciplinary frame. Changes in how I enact masculinity may have an effect on women, but they may also be done to lead a more fulfilling and creative life. To my mind, masculinity is relevant to both those issues, but it isn't women's studies.
"Short version: Yes, women have been silenced and excluded, but still, it isn't always about them -- so we need gender studies, even if women's studies is the biggest piece of that."