The Tide Is Turning Against “Gender Studies”—Just Not Fast Enough
Orban announced that his government would push through with a policy first proposed last year: to abolish Gender Studies programmes at Hungarian universities. There are two universities with Gender Studies Departments, both in Budapest – the George Soros-backed Central European University (CEU), and Eötvös Loránd University, founded in 1635. The latter takes only 10 students a year into the Gender Studies programme.
This will make Hungary the only country in the EU which doesn’t allow Queer Theory to be taught on the taxpayer’s dime. And Orban’s government is refreshingly honest about why Gender Studies is being sent to Siberia.
“The subject of the discipline goes against everything the government thinks about human beings,” Bence Retvari, the Minister for Human Resources told the Hungarian parliament last year. “Gender studies—similar to Marxism-Leninism—can be called an ideology rather than a science, and therefore it is doubtful that it attains the scientific level expected for a university degree course”. [Attack on academic freedom or stand against pseudoscience: Is Hungary right to ban gender studies?, RT, August 19, 2018,]
It’s not just members of Orban’s nationalist Fidesz Party who take this view. “This study . . . destroys value-oriented thinking that is still present in Central European countries” wrote Christian Democrat (and member of Orban’s coalition) Lőrinc Nacsa last year. “Our burning problem is the demographic issue, which will not be solved by studying sexual minorities and deepening feminist philosophy”.
The government also stated that the subject imparts no useful knowledge for Hungary, so it effectively churns out unemployable graduates or graduates who will have to go abroad, emigration being a serious problem for ex-Soviet Bloc nations, at the taxpayer’s expense. [Orban govt abolishes gender studies in Hungary, Hungary Journal, August 10, 2018]
Even in the US, Women’s Studies graduates aren’t really employable—see I Have a Degree in Women’s Studies, So Why Can’t I Pay the Rent? by Christine Stolba, The Women’s Quarterly, Fall 1999.
Though some Hungarian Leftists have criticised the government’s decision because it involved shutting down a course “dealing with gender inequalities,” the policy has garnered the support of the country’s leading social scientists—particularly notable because social scientists in the Anglosphere are invariably Left-wing. Hungary’s social scientists, however, are nationalists.
“Gender-oriented liberals have already caused irreparable harm in the souls of generations growing up in the past decades. We need to fight them without compromise and achieve a complete victory, otherwise they will end up destroying us,” wrote sociologist (!!!) Balint Botond in the daily newspaper Magayar [Hungary to Stop Financing Gender Courses: PM Aid, Reuters, August 14, 2018].
In contrast, Orsolya Lehotai, who researches political science at Central European University told the Swedish Secretariat for Gender Research last year that “Gender Studies” is associated, by the government, with Communism, but that the Communist era was “liberating” for women. The government, she claimed, sees Gender Studies as feminizing men, when in the government’s view men are needed to fight Islamic refugees. And they see the subject as masculinising women so that they don’t want children, undermining Hungary as a bastion against Multiculturalism, and undermining family life. [Ambivalent situation for gender studies in Hungary, Swedish Secretariat for Gender Research, December 19, 2017, /].
However, it is in Sweden – with its rampant gender quotas, even for positions in the government [Sweden is implementing gender equality level 2.0, The Local, June 4, 2018] – that some of the most damning academic research on Gender Studies has recently emerged.
Guy Madison, a mild-mannered Professor of Psychology at Umeå University in northern Sweden [https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zm22a9AKylU ], and his team have systematically demonstrated what garbage Gender Studies is.
They analysed “2,805 statements from 36 peer-reviewed journal articles, sampled from the Swedish Gender Studies List,” comparing those by “Gender Studies” scholars and those by scientists who studied sex differences, coding the statements for bias and value judgements. They duly proved that statements by “Gender Studies” researchers were objectively higher in bias and value-judgements [“Objectivity and realms of explanation in academic journal articles concerning sex/gender, By Guy Madison & Therese Söderlund, Scientometrics, August 2017] .
The same team analyzed peer-reviewed articles, line by line, to see how well supported empirical assertions were by the surrounding text and whether the study applied a “gender studies” perspective. They found that a study having this perspective was positively associated with low levels of empirical support for its statements [Comparisons of content and scientific quality indicators across peer-reviewed journal articles with more or less gender perspective, By Guy Madison & Therese Söderlund, Scientometrics, April 2018].
And to make matters even worse, they proved that when comparing “literatures that consider socially constructed gender” and those that accept “biological sex,” then “the former is less cited and published in journals with lower Impact Factor than the latter”. [Characteristics of gender studies publications, By Guy Madison & Therese Söderlund, Scientometrics, August 2015].
In other words, academics don’t really read Gender Studies articles and, if they do, they certainly don’t consider them worth citing—citation being the accepted measure that something is an important contribution to knowledge.
Aghast at Madison’s findings, Swedish Gender Studies researchers could only respond with a long list of fallacious criticisms, such as that Gender Studies should only be studied by people who have Gender Studies qualifications—rather proving his central point that the field is utterly anti-scientific [Can gender studies be studied? Reply to comments on Söderlund and Madison, By Guy Madison & Therese Söderlund, Scientometrics, May 2016].
Of course, almost all subjects with “Studies” on the end are politicized nonsense. Even “Religious Studies” assumes that the causes of religious differences are entirely environmental because all religions are a “response” to the same thing: the numinous; a sense of the profound awe at the heart of life. In other words, Religious Studies is in fact a form of extreme-liberal Christian theology [The Ideology of Religious Studies,By Timothy Fitzgerald, Oxford University Press, 2000]
But the difference is that Gender Studies openly aims to destroy Western society, preventing it from defending itself against the Enemy at the Gate by sowing confusion and cultural disunity.
The Hungarian government understands this. Hopefully it won’t be too long before other governments follow suit and stop funding this ideological nonsense.
No better example of this nonsense can be seen in the response to Orban’s decision by Prof Emma Rees, [Email her] Director of the Institute of Gender Studies at the University of Chester in England:
Universities should be home to open-mindedness; to working through intellectual difficulties; to challenging convention; and should lay the global socio-cultural foundations necessary for a brighter, because more equitable, future.
[Institute of Gender Studies, University of Chester Facebook Page, August 17, 2018]
Rees cannot see that “open-mindedness” and “working through intellectual difficulties” cannot go hand-in-hand with the dogma that a “brighter future” is inherently “more equitable.”
And this isn’t some callow undergraduate, his/her/non-binary critical faculties not yet fully developed, it’s the director of the whole department.
We have a long way to go.
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Lance Welton [Email him] is the pen name of a freelance journalist living in New York.
Featured image courtesy of Luke Waller via politico.eu