Friday, January 21, 2005

In the House of Sophia

I'm on my way to class this morning: Women, Poverty, and Power. It wasn't a class I was planning on taking. At the last minute this term, I dropped Hebrew and I need to fill the hole in my schedule, so I added Religious Identity in Antiquity and this class. You know, I like the think of myself as a pretty progressive guy, but I've never actually taken any kind of women's studies class before, and I am woefully unknowledgable about feminist theory, etc. I have to admit that I was quite uncomfortable and even a bit frightened after the first class. All but one other student in the class is a woman, and he is an African American man, so I definitely feel like the oppressor. Plus, the one other man in the class speaks quite a bit and usually gets jumped on. I felt like everyone else in the room had this huge body of knowledge and experience with which I was completely unfamiliar.

Like I said, I just felt uncomfortable. Why, because I'm used to being priviledged. I'm used to being the one in the position of knowing. Our society makes it that way. I felt speechless. To me, that's okay. I have for quite a while thought we who are in priviledged positions should just sit down and shut up for a while. But of course, the feminist movement is one that is experienced in empowering people to speak, and so I can't much get away with just being silent. I did speak last week; I waited until discussion rolled around to something I know something about: the Marxist critique of capitalism. What a cop out.

Anyway, it's good that I be uncomfortable, I think. I hope I don't inhibit other people's experience, but I'm pretty sure I won't be able to get through without making a fool of myself.


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