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In response to the observation "A puritanical fear of sharing about gender and sex and sexuality seems to me counter-productive to the very purpose of feminism and women's/gender/sexuality studies," I would just like to offer a couple of thoughts. I am a former women's studies student (B.A., self-designed major) and have experience in graduate school in gender studies classrooms as well, although my advanced degrees are in History and Archives Management. I believe in the power of self-disclosure in the classroom, but I also think that it is important that student feel INVITED rather than REQUIRED to share aspects of their life story, particularly in a classroom setting where there is a power dynamic (all classroom settings) and before trust between students and between each student and the faculty member has been established (e.g. on the first day of class). I have been in situations where there was pressure to share aspects of my life story that I didn't feel comfortable sharing, and later felt a (low-grade, admittedly) kind of violation. I have also been in class with students who do NOT experience schools as safe spaces, OR who experience schools as safe spaces precisely because they don't require that level of self-disclosure (which the students associate with bullying, etc.). So while sharing personal experience can be very powerful in the right setting, it can also feel violating and can cause students to turn away from the very type of gender theorizing we hope to encourage them to pursue. Perhaps if such exercises are done early on in class (or, indeed, at any point during the semester), the sharing of reflections by the student could be optional? (And I mean truly optional, with no pressure from the professor to disclose what they don't feel comfortable disclosing.) Obviously, the professor can do everything possible to model an open and non-judgmental space, but it is impossible to know what baggage every student may carry into the classroom -- particularly around experiences of sex and gender which are so deeply personal (and often private, even if not shameful) experiences. I think the success of such sharing turns on consent. Think, for example, of the psychological difference between choosing to self-disclose one's sexual orientation or gender identity and being "outed" by someone when you weren't ready or didn't feel safe doing so. I am all for open discussion about gender and sexuality, but I think every student is in a different place in terms of their willingness and ability to speak in deeply personal terms about what those things mean to them. The option for speaking about those ideas with a little more distance and self-protection, particularly at first, seems respectful of that variation among learners. ~Anna * * * Anna J. Cook Reference Librarian Massachusetts Historical Society 1154 Boylston St. | Boston, MA | 02215-3695 617-646-0561 | firstname.lastname@example.org