My first "problematic" in my WoSt class

Here's my first response paper for my Feminist Theory and Methods class (my professor calls them "problematics."). We were to discuss what's in a name; in other words, is it a problem to continue to call this field "women's studies"? Why not "gender studies," "identitarian studies," "women's and gender studies," "sex and gender studies," etc.? Here are my thoughts:

In the 1970s, when the field of Women's Studies was in its nascent phases, the women's movement had a vital presence in mainstream culture. Academic feminists saw an underrepresentation of women in college curricula in such disciplines as history, literature, psychology, sociology, anthropology, rhetoric, philosophy, and science, and they worked to recover the silenced contributions women made to these disciplines and to implement gender as an analytical category for disciplines that had not previously studied women. Such recovery was, of course, a feminist project, but "Feminist Studies" was not only ideologically charged, but also not indicative of the object of study. Women's Studies became a interdisciplinary field of study in which women were both subjects and objects of research.

In that same decade, the Combahee River Collective, with their declaration of solidarity with men of color as well as women, set into motion an eventual reconsideration of women as the name of this field of study. Now, we see arguments to change the name to gender studies, sex and gender studies, etc. In assessing the issue of what is in a name, I have identified several points for consideration: first, the need to account for differences among women (and men), rooted in coherence between name and object of study (Wiegman, Guy-Sheftall); second, the potential loss of institutional ground gained for feminism, especially in light of anti-affirmative action measures and feminist backlash (Ausalander, Yee), and finally, the inclusion of as many disciplines as possible (Ausalander).

My first, impulsive response to the question of what I would call this field was "Power and Difference Studies." That was before I had read all the material, though. I had originally thought that "power" and "difference" would be acceptable terms for our objects of study, but then gender as a category of analysis would not be represented in the name, and the biological and physical sciences would be marginalized (Ausalander). Now, I would argue that "Women's Studies" is still the best name, primarily because I read three arguments for keeping "women" as the signifier: Yee, who argues that women's studies "keep[s] 'woman' on the table as a contested, visible, and complex category of analysis" (p. 61), Wiegman, who points out the groundbreaking critiques of identity and difference that can be attributed to women's studies and who contends that gender is still an identitarian term, and Guy-Sheftall, who implies that gender studies would be merely a surface-level political move and says that feminist studies would alienate black women. Auslander, who is speaking as a scholar affiliated with a Center for Gender Studies, is the only proponent of "Gender Studies" as a preferable term. Ausalander seems to suggest that "gender" more adequately accommodates Gay and Lesbian Studies and Queer Studies, but I believe that Women's Studies has accommodated these just as well. I, like Guy-Sheftall, do not advocate a name change so much as a more thorough analysis of gender alongside capitalism, colonialism, heteronormativity and homophobia, and racism.