Since I have to fund most of this, I'm quite happy that I've never been asked to pay for what I consider "garbage." Thankfully my children have gravitated to areas of study that demand hard measurable learning. The colleges have a core curriculum that is pretty demanding, and the majors they've chosen are areas of study I respect.
Every year with the tuition bill, I take a close look at the courses they've registered for. I know when I was in college (back in the days when the City University of New York was tuition-free) there were a few courses I took because they were known as "easy A's" and there were some I took for scheduling reasons - I wanted at least one day a week off. I wasn't much of a scholar then.
I don’t know what I would do if I got a big bill, and among the courses listed was something like "Feminist and Gender Studies." There is just something about me, a representative of the Patriarchy, forking over dollars so my children can study the nuances of how I've oppressed them and warped their minds during their formative years. There is something about paying for a course in a department so political, so ideological, and so uncertain about the material it teaches that the department has student surveys to decide . . . on the name for the department! Or whose professors, so learned and wise in the ways of gender, have long mailing list discussions about how to teach students of a particular gender. I mean it isn't like biologists studying the million-or-so species, chemists studying the periodic table, or linguists studying the Indo-European language family. For God's sake, there are exactly two genders, and you, the experts, need help in dealing with one of them? Do I want my children taking courses that will teach them how to make arguments like this, found in a comment on Hugo Schwyzer's blog:
Most likely the reason that these women feel this way is becaue we live in a society that allows men to objectify women. Men do this so that they can stay in power. Being with a beautiful women is considred to be a sign of stautus in our society; and because the woment is a status symbol she is treated more like an object than a subject. Also by obejectifying women men don’t have to recognizen them as sujects and take them serioulsly. While it seems like this would be a horrible situation for women and the smart ones would choose not to participate this is not the case; many women feel that by appering beautiful they gain power over men because them man will then want to be in possesion of her. Perhaps teachers who objectify their students are more interested in power than having a relationship with their students. Also I can’t help but notice that many of the comments here are highly hetero-compolsary.
So I don't know what I'd do if I saw a course "Feminist and Gender Studies" on a bill. Perhaps if they took it as an "Easy A" or a schedule filler I'd let it go. I can understand taking some nonsense in college - as long is you know it is nonsense. But if I started to feel that they took this stuff seriously I might well say: "Go for it - but study it on your own dime."
There are always exceptions, however. I came across this Women's Studies professor, answering her Rate My Professor comment that her requirements are "inflexible."
I love the dismissive title she put right on the top of her profile: "Save it for your parents." It sort of appeals to my "Mussolini on the balcony" view that a teacher should have enough confidence in herself, and enough respect for her material that she takes an uncompromising view: I'm the damned expert, learn this stuff the way I teach it, or take a hike!
While I'd question paying for a Womens Studies course, I'd feel like I was getting some value for my money if she was the teacher.