Sunday, January 31, 2010
"Oh, I majored in Myself"
I was looking at the NY Times wedding section today and came across the blurb on the civil union of the two men pictured above. (I always read the blurbs on the gay marriages, I find them fascinating). The man on the left is named Mark Bartkiewicz. He is 23.
The Times reported that Mr. Bartkiewicz "works in New York as a research assistant at the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network, a group focused on insuring safe schools for all students. He graduated from the College of New Jersey in Ewing, N.J., and received a master's degree in sociology with a concentration in gender and sexuality studies from the University of Amsterdam."
An awful lot of people go to college these days to major in whatever they are, i.e., women's studies, black studies, or some other line of study which will merely serve to entrench them further in their particular political/racial/sexual identity. But isn't an education supposed to be broadening? Don't we theoretically go to college to learn about other people, and not just ourselves? What is the point of "diversity" for people who only want to navel gaze?
People used to study things like anthropology; in my day they would go off and study the Yanomano Indians in Brazil, or other cultures. In an earlier era Margaret Mead went to study the Samoans. (They basically punked her, by the way, by pretending to be far more promiscuous than they actually were.) But the point is, people used to be interested in studying new and different cultures. Nowadays it seems that all too often they want only to "study" themselves. It's hard to avoid the conclusion that this trend is indicative of the increasing narcissism of our culture.
I'd be more impressed by Mr. Bartkiewicz if he had taken up electrical engineering. Or, for that matter, by a straight football player who had taken up Mr. Bartkiewicz's field of concentration. But it never seems to work that way.