Analysis of Interview with Marjorie Och

The evolution of American collegiate feminism has taken several important turns since its conception in the 1970’s. While some of the methods for teaching women’s studies have changed, as have the topics brought about by women’s studies. While women’s studies may have initially been based upon literary views on women, and women’s impacts on literature, it has since expanded into many other programs and departments in an attempt to expand and prove its legitimacy. While some of this expansion has been difficult, according to Professor Marjorie Och of the University Of Mary Washington’s Art History Department, some of it has been an easy and natural transition and has been a long time in coming.

Professor Marjorie Och of UMW’s art and art history program has been a professor at Mary Washington since 1998, and was one of the founders of the Women’s and Gender Studies that the University boasts of today. She proudly hangs on to the very first email that she sent out, attempting to organize one of the very first interest meetings for the program. While this program is interdisciplinary, and attempts to involve all disciplines, some appear to fit much easier to the into the program than others. A prime example of this is Professor Och’s own department, Arts and Art History. Professor Och’s specialty is the study of Women’s patronage and influence on the arts, which is something that is neither well documented nor covered by most major studies. She sees studies like hers to be important, not because they focus on women but because they include women.

Professor Och is eager to promote her view of Feminism as being no more than the idea that women have rights, just like men. She seems troubled by some of the more severe and extremist forms of feminism, and is not comfortable with the impression it leaves on the general public. She is uncomfortable with voicing these impressions, in fact asking the interviewer to voice these impressions instead of saying them herself. This may have been from wanting to make a point to the interviewer or simply wanting to separate herself from the views as much as possibility. (Valerie Yow. Recording Oral History. Rowman & Littleton. London. 2005. Pp52) She sees feminism s being an unfortunate new “F-Word”, which is not uncommon for feminists (Florence Howe, The Politics of Women’s Studies. Feminist Press, NY, NY. 2000. Pp112).  She sees a result of this program being the loss of this impression over time.

Professor Och describes her dissertation as covering the patronage of women in the 16th century art field. She studies how even though women were barred form delaying with artists on a personal or professional level, how women interested in the arts could work their way around these holds to acquire works of art. By trading favors for an indirect patronage of the artists, Noble women were able to participate in and influence the world of art, which they were not allowed to be in publicly. While this is strange by today’s standards, this kind of back room dealing was necessary for any female involvement in the 16th century.

This kind of historical study not only provides a fascinating and overlooked view of the history of art, but it perfectly fits the definition of a women’s studies topic. By attempting to study women’s effects in the art world, one is not only gaining insight but broadening horizons to study the oppression of women. Women’s Studies is not meant to be focused entirely on women, but more on they’re overlooked and ignored impacts on the world we are in today. This is a more unorthodox looks at history, but generally regarded as an important on (Katherine Borland That’s not What I said; Interpretive Conflict in Oral History Pp71). By studying such topics as women in this specific field, a study of the field is not focused on women but broadened to be more complete. Professor Och’s study may have been condemned as radical twenty or thirty years before her time, but now it is an important and valuable insight we should focus on.

Professor Och sees this as just a beginning though. While some academic disciplines have claimed in the past that they are unable to include women or gender studies, she sees this as being more or less an incomplete study.   While mathematics and some sciences are resistant to this kind of study, she claims to have spoken with members of Mary Washington’s Mathematics department who are interested in including women’s studies into their classes. This kind of inclusiveness will allow students to have a much fuller understanding of these topics, even though it may be a long time in coming. One hope that she is not the only one with these views. (Studs Terkel My American Century, New York; The New press Pp 18)

The effects of this program will go beyond the classes according to professor Och. She sees the mere fact that some students will be taking these classes, and discussing the views they will learn. She sees the importance of this representation as being nearly as important as people taking the classes themselves. She wishes to see feminism spread, not as a distinct transformation of everyone into being feminist, but merely being a constant sharing of its ideas to the point that it becomes widely accepted.

Professor Marjorie Och’s vision of the University Of Mary Washington’s Women’s and Genders Studies, is not a conversion of the school to feminism, but an introduction and globalization of its ideals. She wants to see Mary Washington accepting all differences and variations of life, but she wants it done completely instead of quickly. Her feminist passion is for an equal culture, and a complete

Comments are closed.