True liberal arts

I always find it interesting how we value fields of study. In this current day and age no one can deny that our most valued form of education is in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) and I certainly am not trying to imply that this is not a worthy area of studying. Rather, I would like to point out the reasons that this cannot exist on its own without a “liberal arts” way of looking at it.

As a Gender Studies major, it is often implied that I am wasting my time and not doing anything useful, and though I am perhaps biased, I take issue with that. There is a reason that gender studies exists and it would improve many fields. Despite the presence of cold, logical and rational science, prejudice has been allowed to exist and even frequently defended and upheld by scientists. This is a past that I have yet to see reconciled when someone says that they value logic above all else. Logically you can think anything. If you connect enough dots you could posit anything as logical. Women are different than men, they seem to weaken with pregnancy, therefore men are superior and need to protect women. Despite the fact that I have no evidence, this sounds “logical” insofar as it makes some sense. This is how science upheld prejudice and the status quo, but gender studies could help scientists break out of that.

A Gender Studies major would question where the idea of weakness in women originates, why is it so prevalent and what makes us believe it so fervently? If scientists interrogated their biases, they would find that they might be skewing data and recreating what they expect to see even if they value cold hard facts. It could result in better experiment set-ups, more useful data and less biased views of people. This could also be said for many other forms of study. Psychology could help a doctor understand a patient more than just on a physical level, music could help a physicist conceptualize sound and English could help a mathematician communicate the importance of proofs and problems. The same could be said the other way around, understanding medicine could help a psychologist to better understand their patient and the mind’s relationship to the body, understanding physics could help a musician conceptualize how to best reach the audience and understanding math could help an author better build a fully fledged world.

So often we forget that every subject exists for a reason and that everyone can benefit from stepping outside their usual topic. Liberal arts encourages it but often fails to address why we need to learn from each other. Art gets stale without outside inspiration, science gets stuck without social prodding. We are all interconnected whether we like it or not and our world would be a lot better if we stopped pretending that one area of study is more useful or worthy than another. At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter if you aren’t sure where to put a field yet. It is okay if gender studies confounds you and you have no idea why it might be useful. The important part is to challenge yourself to approach it and ask yourself how you might be able to use it in your own studies. Whether we like it or not, we’re stuck with each other and we all have something to offer.