After teaching a couple of semesters in these rural campuses, an unexpected request came from my women students. Would I please teach them a class in women’s studies. They had clearly been following the general discussion in the country around women’s rights, including the 1973 Supreme Court decision allowing first semester abortion. But they had no place to talk about the issues circulating around them. Perhaps, they thought, if I taught a Women’s Literature class, they could enroll without alarming their families(mainly their husbands!) It would just be seen as another college class.
Astonished by this development, I told the main campus that my students wanted me to teach them this course. Immediately the main campus Women’s Studies teachers balked at the idea. They would, they said, gladly send one of their own instructors to teach. At this time, the main campus faculty were exactly the kind of feminists my students were afraid of, loud and fairly anti-male. The chance that my students would enroll in a class with any of these women was infinitesimal.
I went into town to meet with these women and told them the truth. They looked over my credentials(I had taken several women’s literature classes myself) and reluctantly decided I could teach one time only to the interested group.
Our group of ten met once a week, reading both fiction and nonfiction writings by women, both historical and present day. Women shared about violence in their homes, harassment on the job, struggles with having to work and take care of the home, and how isolated they had felt before they had met one another. It was, indeed, a one time event, but one I will always remember with amazement.