Amherst course puzzles over how women become conservative

Amherst College is offering a course this semester exploring why “some women become right-wing leaders” while others “fight for the rights of women.”

According to the course description, the seminar will explore “the consequences of neoliberalism, cultural conservatism, Islamophobia, and anti-immigrant sentiments for women of different social and economic strata as well as women’s divergent political responses.”

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The description then elaborates on the nature of the divergence, saying that some women gravitate toward the “right-wing”—about which it provides no additional context—whereas others join “progressive forces,” whose activities it charitably describes as “anti-racist” and focused on defending the rights of others.

“Why have some women become prominent right wing leaders and activists while others have allied with leftist, anti-racist, and other progressive forces to fight for the rights of women and other marginalized groups?” the description asks.

“How have transnational forces influenced both forms of women’s activism?” it adds. “To what extent are there cross-national similarities in the impact of the far right surge on women, gender, and sexuality?”

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The course description notes that the course will draw on different regions of the world, but with “particular attention to India and the U.S.”

Required textbooks for the course include Strangers in Their Own Land: Anger and Mourning on the American Right, by Arlie Russell Hochschild; and The Handmaid’s Tale, a dystopian book by Margaret Atwood about a patriarchal America run by religious zealots.

The class is offered yearly through the Sexuality, Women’s & and Gender Studies Department, and the topic varies with each iteration. This year, it will be taught by Department Chair Amrita Basu.

Campus Reform reached out to Basu for additional information about the course, but she was not available for comment.

Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @kassydillon