When I first decided to pursue my MA in History, I was under the impression that I would just focus and learn more about my interests in history, U.S. military history to be exact.. I thought that I would delve into more specific studies of military history and become a “go to guy” when it came to that area. I was somewhat overwhelmed by the scope of what we were going to have to do in my first semester. WOW!, Just WOW! I could not understand at first just what all of this reading was meant to do. It was like an onion, one that was strong and overpowering, and made me want to cry as I started into it.
Then, as I started to peel back the layers, it was like a sweet Vidalia onion. Each layer didn’t make me want to cry. I began to see why each reading, not only in this class, but my others as well, were meant to make me think about how to study, research, write, and better understand history as a whole. History encompasses everything, not just U.S. military history. It is a much bigger world than what I was looking at before, when I was wearing “blinders.” Obviously, I knew that, but gender studies was not a subject of great interest to me. However, these readings in class have really been an eye opening experience for me. PREVIOUSLY, I had always had a nagging thought process, one that I could not understand nor explain, even though I empathized, and understood women’s positions and their points of view. I had been so used to feeling (and women, I wish apologize in advance, this is not a slam directed at anyone specifically, by any means,) like, …Gender studies…again? I get it, equal rights, women’s rights, I get it, but don’t take it out on me…, I was not part of what happened in the past, so stop blaming me for what other people did. Stop trying to punish me. NOW, after really being exposed to just the tip of the iceberg of gender studies, I realize and have a much deeper understanding and respect for the field, because like that iceberg, there is so much that is under the surface, so much more.
As we discussed last week, gender studies is an important part of history, but it has many layers, and I thought about how an onion is an important part of certain recipes, so too is gender studies. As I read Joan Scott this week, I was decidedly unsure of what to think, I had an idea of what was coming but, I was not sure about how she would write about the topic. Our conversation last week in class helped to set up my understanding of the subject of gender studies and I felt that that was a great segway into this week’s readings. After having read Foucault, I was glad to read someone with a different style of writing. Scott, was still, in my opinion, a little dense to read, but again, nothing like Foucault. One part in particular stood out to me and I think that she summed up the field of gender studies quite well.
Joan Scott writes, “Gender, then, provides a way to decode meaning and to understand the complex connections among various forms of human interaction. When historians look for the ways in which the concept of gender legitimizes and constructs social relationships, they develop insight into the reciprocal nature of gender and society…” (pg. 1070).
The field of gender studies encompasses women and men and as such, again is very complex. I feel that as the field grows and that as we, new historians, move forward into the digital age, we are becoming more and more aware of how this field is becoming more and more inclusive. This is no longer a subject that can be overlooked, swept under the rug, or ignored. It is an integral part of our history, and such, needs to be included in any study of history. Gender studies definitely has many layers and facets, some of which, like an onion, can make you cry.