Women owe feminism a lot

As a recent graduate of the University of Virginia's Studies in Women and Gender department, I feel I must respond to "NeW not NOW: Lady Hoo takes on the Left" [News, September 22].

The statements made by Karin Agness and Phyllis Schlafly about Women's Studies departments misrepresent what Women's Studies– and feminists in general– are trying to accomplish. The University of Virginia's SWAG department does not advocate that women "find success only in the workplace– not in the home."

On the contrary, the SWAG department teaches women and men alike that they should not be restricted to the home in their pursuit of happiness. In addition, the SWAG department does not mandate that "all women should be CEOs and presidents and lawyers and doctors." The department teaches that women and men should not be restricted in their career choices based on gender.

In almost all of the SWAG courses that I took at UVA, children and husbands were often discussed. More importantly, the courses emphasize that women and men should work together so that both may enjoy having a family and career, without forcing a larger burden in the home upon either.

The SWAG department teaches all different types of feminism, emphasizing that everyone has the right to equality within our society, regardless of race, gender, age, or sexual orientation. The women of NeW are conveniently forgetting that thanks to feminists, they now have the right to attend great schools such as UVA. The school has been admitting women as fulltime undergraduate students for only 35 years.

It is important that all people have the opportunity and right to stay at home with their children or work full time. However, it would be detrimental to our society to assume that if you are a woman and do not want to stay home with your children, you are a lesbian, and, likewise, that you are not successful if you choose to be a fulltime parent.

Jamie L. Jennings