A Biblically Based Women’s Studies Program -- By: Dorothy Patterson

Journal: Faith and Mission
Volume: FM 14:1 (Fall 1996)
Article: A Biblically Based Women’s Studies Program
Author: Dorothy Patterson


A Biblically Based Women’s Studies Program

Dorothy Patterson

Adjunctive Professor of Christian Family Ministry
Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary
Wake Forest, NC 27587

The acquisition of knowledge and understanding of the world has traditionally been divided into distinct fields or disciplines of study. Most of these, such as history and philosophy, have been around a long time; others, such as sociology or psychology, have come to the forefront in subsequent years. Still others, such as communications or computer science, have appeared in even more recent years.

Each of these disciplines is distinctive; each rests upon its own unique observations and, to some extent, its own presuppositions. Feminists would claim that all reflect a predominantly male perspective and thus would not hold as true for women as for men. Their reasoning suggests that such perspectives, simply because they have masculine roots, cannot correspond with or be harmonious with the experiences of women.

Many feminists also maintain that women’s studies must be designed to be both a complement and a correction to established disciplines, suggesting that other disciplines must reexamine and revise their basic assumptions and theories with fresh views of their subject matter in order to create a coherent new way of seeing the world (i.e., through the eyes of women and in the framework of their experiences). In this case, women’s studies become merely the academic manifestation of feminism, which seeks to garner support for its political agenda from the academic community.1

A women’s studies program was established at Duke University in 1983 with seven courses focused on women and 200 students enrolled in those courses. During the 1995–96 school year, nearly 2,300 students enrolled in women’s studies courses at Duke in a program in which 115 faculty members (about a quarter of the arts and sciences faculty at Duke) participated through teaching or research.2

By 1990, the National Women’s Studies Association listed 619 programs, most of which openly endorsed a specific political and social ideology rather than encouraging the objective exploration of an intellectual discipline.

Most include courses commending lesbianism, abortion, and sexual freedom. Most are antireligious, antiestablishment, antimale. Most call for a radical reconstruction of society. And most are intellectually superficial and slovenly.3

In addition, surveys such as the tel...

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