'Teaching Handbook' preps profs to counter 'benevolent sexism'

A resource guide for professors at Western Washington University argues that there is a “dual nature of prejudice toward women,” counting adoration as “sexism.”

The WWU Teaching Handbook is “an online introduction to resources for teaching both at the University and via the online collective of materials related to best practices,” and was created by an ad hoc committee formed in 2011.

The Ambivalent Sexism Inventory, found in the Inclusive Teaching Toolkit section of the handbook, provides two definitions of sexism: "hostile sexism" involves “negative feelings toward women,” while "benevolent sexism" is a “knight-in-shining armor ideology that offers protection and affection to women who conform to traditional gender roles.”

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The resource guide also provides a tool on “interrupting microaggressions” that teaches professors how to intervene when they believe they have witnessed a “microaggression.”

For example, saying “that’s so gay” is considered a use of “heterosexist language,” to which the guide suggest that professors respond by saying, “When I hear that remark, I’m offended too, because I feel that it marginalizes an entire group of people that I work with.”

Similarly, the guide states that asking a female student if she plans on having children is considered a microaggression because it is “traditional gender role prejudicing and stereotyping,” indicating that this should also elicit intervention by the professor.

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The Social Justice Toolkit section of the Teaching Handbook, meanwhile, includes a “Social Justice Fridays” sample syllabus that introduces a different social justice concept each Friday, such as how “whiteness” and “capitalism” are responsible for injustices.

During these topic discussions, students would be required to watch videos, and afterwards would be asked questions such as “Do you agree that (white, US) America does not confront their true history?” and “How are these forms of oppression [racism, sexism, and xenophobia] linked in a capitalist society?”

“Over time, US American policy on immigration and citizenship has grown to be some of the most restrictive in the world, and [Noam] Chomsky's work will show how its dramatic evolution has been tailored to prohibit entry for the least powerful and most exploitable,” states the introduction to the discussion on “Immigration.”

Campus Reform reached out to WWU for more information about the the Teaching Handbook is utilized, but did not receive a response in time for publication.

Follow the author of this article on Facebook: Cory Compton