The article “Taking Women Students Seriously” written by Adrienne rich focused on the difficulties faced by women students in a male dominated society of the times and provided valuable insights to women teachers to help women students to think critically and discovering their true worth. The underlying theme of the article is to prove that equality had yet to exist between men and women and to show that society cajoled women to think that they were subservient to men. The whole educational system and society in general promoted passivity in women students and this in turn hindered their intellectual growth.
The article initially provides background about the personal experience of Adrienne Rich while studying in an all-girls school in the 1940s and thereafter studying in a coeducational college in Radcliffe. While studying in all-girls school, Adrienne Rich received quality education from some learned women teacher, they “were taken to libraries, art museums, lectures at the neighboring colleges, set to work on extra research projects, given extra research projects” but this experience did not prepare women students in actually facing the harsh realities in a male dominated world.
In Radcliffe a coeducational college, Adrienne Rich discovered that the whole educational system was biased against women and women students were not at all taken seriously. In the university “the great men talked of other great men, of nature of Man, the history of Mankind, the future of Man” Adrienne Rich then talks how about how fear of rape and sexual harassment prove a great hindrance to development of women thoughts and free thinking.
According to Adrienne Rich the whole education system failed in generating the equality between the sexes as it prompted the thinking that “men were the shapers and thinkers of the world, and that this was only natural,” Women were also soft targets of pornographic magazines. Adrienne Rich says that women mentors have two choices; they can either ignore the problem in totality or refuse to abide by the fixed norms. Only when the women educators start taking them seriously, the attitude of society will change. Women educators have to believe in their own worth and only then they will start gaining the respect of society.
Women need to discover their own history. They should challenge notions and fixed thoughts of society based on their own experience. Women need not necessarily think like men. They are individuals who have their own thoughts and experience. To conclude we can say that Adrienne with her article wanted her audience to see the hardship a women as a student and as a teacher has to face in the society. She wanted that “the women teacher and the women student alike to take ourselves, and each other, seriously: meaning, to begin taking charge of our lives”.
Although Rich backed up her argument with valid examples, the article in present context is a bit outdated. It being the twenty-first century, women do have equal rights in all spheres including education. More and more women are entering higher education and they have established a name for themselves. Today’s women have strong foundation and are taught to face any problem in life without showing signs of weakness. In a way Adrienne’s wish did came true that women’s in this era have now taken charge of the own lives and are out in the world making valuable difference.