Yale Women's, Gender and Sexuality Studies

Volume 7, Issue 1
fall 2016
Editor, Geetanjali Singh Chanda
Managing Editors, Linda Hase & Moe Gardner
Layout Design, Nick Appleby

PhotoWGSS Chair’s Letter

Misogyny, patriarchy, racism, bigotry, Islamophobia, ableism, transphobia, homophobia, xenophobia: these have emerged as speakable, visible, popular and powerful themes in public and political discourse in the US.

The WGSS/LGBTS community at Yale stands against all the bigotry and hate that has been expressed during this election season. We resolve to work toward defending and protecting the communities that are now threatened by the authoritarian, white, heteropatriarchy that will be the face of the nation-state, and we refuse to normalize its hateful powers.

What are the forms of resistance we need to take now? In WGSS, our work is to research and teach, and the tradition of our discipline is to reveal all that the authoritarian powers would like to keep hidden. Certain topics in gender and race research will continue to be important and will need support and attention. Women’s health, reproductive rights, and control of sexualities will certainly be on the agenda of the regime as indicated by the history of the Republican party and the Vice President-elect.  Freedom of speech, academic freedom, and speaking truth to power will be in danger, but the attack may be more stealthy, and more stifling research and teaching, especially in programs and departments devoted to studying misogyny and racism, and of course, climate science.  Yet teach and research we will, and it is becoming clear that the academic community will collectively share the struggle. Academic organizations are speaking up, as are university presidents and provosts.

Our research on gender, sexuality, race, class and religion will be especially critical. The focus on media politics and media literacy is crucial in this Orwellian world, and our programs have already begun this work with courses on digital media. Our faculty research and teaching in visual culture, ideology, gendered power, intersectionality, non-gender conforming politics and practices, colonialism, postcolonialism and empire will enable us to counter and work through the time to come.

We have begun to organize lectures and talks and conferences on how to protect and work with communities targeted by racism and Islamophobia. Our events highlighting important new books on disability and sexuality (Christina Crosby’s A Body Undone: Living on After Great Pain, 2016) and misogyny and discrimination at elite universities (Nancy Malkiel’s Keep the Damned Women Out: The Struggle for Coeducation, 2016) were uplifting and sobering. We’ve organized talks on gender and Asian transnationalism, journalism in an internet age, and co-sponsored events with departments and research projects around the university. Upcoming is a panel with service providers in New Haven that work on youth, racial justice, and immigrant and refugee rights in the New Haven community. These events, collaborations and courses will do the work that is necessary for the next four years.

Misogyny, homophobia and patriarchy as major forces in American cultural life have now been laid bare. Their visibility proclaims the necessity of serious and extensive research on gender/sexuality and race in social, economic and political life both in the US and outside. States and nations rely on naturalizing these divisions—gender/sexuality and race are not just about “identity politics” but are vital matters at the heart of polities everywhere. Yale WGSS/LGBTS has never been more  crucial.

Inderpal Grewal
Chair, WGSS

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