Although they set out to examine the roots of systems of oppression through an intersectional lens with a focus on gender issues, students in one Intro to Women’s Studies class realized that, through their in-depth discussions facilitated by safe spaces and community norms, they’d done much more than simply “examine.” They’d solved sexism entirely. Judith Albrecht, the professor teaching the 100-level course, expressed her incredulity at finding such a profound solution.
“It’s hard to believe. I’ve been teaching this class for 15 or 20 years, and I have never been able to put an end to systemic oppression of a minority group. I guess I’m not surprised that this class solved it though: We were ahead of our syllabus this whole time, almost all the students were on top of things and we’ve had only one absence. The semester doesn’t end for another three or four weeks, and they already have all of their final papers turned in, except one. I guess this would be the class whose group discussions are so insightful that they entirely dismantle patriarchy,” said Albrecht.
Junior Micah Hansford-Townson, a student taking the class, led the groundbreaking discussion that changed the lives of women worldwide and pioneered efforts to correct gender-based discrimination: “I was the valedictorian at my high school, so this makes sense. I always knew I would do great things, but I didn’t expect to accomplish them so soon. I was supposed to prepare five open-ended questions to ask the class, and I forgot about it until I walked in, so I just asked how effective advertising products as ‘for men’ and ‘for women’ actually is, and it snowballed from there. I directed the conversation, so by the end, that was it. Boom. No more patriarchy,” said Hansford-Townson.
A recently declared math major, Emma Auguste, actually felt frustrated by the breakthrough: “I’m NROing this class. I’m not a fan of essay-based classes so it’s been a real struggle, and now we just fixed sexism? And it won’t even count towards my GPA? On top of that, Micah gets all the credit. He hasn’t even done any of the reading! He hates the class! I can’t believe this,” said Auguste.
When pressed for commentary, Hansford-Townson confirmed that he indeed hated the class: “It’s pretty boring. I’m not going to study for the final. Do we have a final for that class? I can ask Emma, she’ll know,” said Hansford-Townson.
Professor Albrecht seemed underwhelmed by Hansford-Townson’s participation in the revelation: “It was pretty clear he hadn’t prepared well for discussion that day. He got lucky. I don’t know why CNN and MSNBC chose to interview him for their coverage. Everyone else in the class contributed more than Micah that day,” said Albrecht.
Undeterred, Hansford-Townson has begun traveling all over the country discussing his miraculous dismantling of hundreds of years of patriarchal oppression: “Well, actually, people perceived gender differently in the past, so, I mean, you have to take it into account when thinking about the future,” said Hansford-Townson in an interview.
Classmates other than Auguste have raised objections to Hansford-Townson’s representation. First-year Annika Jamison believes some of his talking points detract from the main issues: “I’m not even sure he knows what we uncovered as a collective through dialogue that led to the end of our patriarchal society. He just keeps saying he was the discussion leader that day, and he didn’t even come up with an original topic for discussion. We discussed marketing during the first week, we’d been there, done that,” said Jamison.
When pressed for a response to these accusations from his classmates, Hansford-Townson stated, “They’re jealous that I’m the only man in the class, and I solved the patriarchy and not them. People need to know the whole story, because taken out of context, it sounds like it was the class that solved gender-based discrimination and not me.”
In light of his incredible achievement, Hansford-Townson will be receiving a Presidential Medal of Freedom. Professor Albrecht will be recognized for her contribution as well with a small dessert reception in the Deece. Hansford-Townson has also been asked to consult with other Vassar programs and departments to apply any insights he had in ending sexism to ending classism, racism and ableism.