After three years as an undergrad, I am used to getting funny looks when I tell people I’m majoring in Feminist, Gender and Sexuality Studies. The citizens of my suburban Connecticut hometown are particularly flustered by my academic interests. ‘But what will you do with that?’ a skeptical Wall Street exec demands at the train station as we wait for the 8:52am express to Grand Central. ‘Maybe porn,’ I respond flippantly, already aware that explaining my interest in feminist publishing is a conversation doomed from the start. Predictably, the exec stutters before retreating further down the platform. I bite back a smirk.
My major is a source of less consternation at my small liberal arts college. Most of my fellow students openly identify as feminist or at least drop ‘heteronormative’ and ‘socially constructed’ into conversation on a regular basis. That being said, there is still a stigma to choosing to study feminism full time. The stereotype that women’s studies is dominated by humorless, ugly lesbians persists on even the most liberal of campuses.
As one of the only straight women in a predominantly queer major, telling a guy I’m FGSS can provide a perverse boost to my desirability: it makes me exotic and something of a challenge as long as I assure them I am not like the other FGSS majors (which it itself is messed up). It helps as well as hurts that last fall I became the editor of my school’s art and sexuality magazine, refuting any doubt that I am anti-sex or anti-men. Running a sex magazine also carries implications, sexualizing me before I even introduce myself. It tethers me to my school’s rampant hookup culture, for better or for worse. Identifying as a loud and proud sex-positive feminist can make starting anything more permanent than a one night stand an uphill battle.
- Reblogged from thefeministpress