**Warning: This article contains plot points for “That Guy in Our Women’s Studies Class” by Allan D. Hunter**
How do men navigate the world of gender identity in a society that forcefully upholds gender norms? And how are men able to explore their privileged role in society while trying to engage in women’s studies and feminist theory?
These questions are explored in Allan D. Hunter’s latest nonfiction memoir, “That Guy in Our Women’s Studies Class” (2022). In the memoir, Derek Turner, a genderqueer sissy male, embarks on a decade-long journey to find his place in the academic world of women’s studies and feminist theory. Set in the 1980s, the story follows Derek from his sheltered home in Oklahoma to New York City, where he details his time living in a halfway house for the mentally ill, being an undergraduate commuter and then resident student at SUNY Old Westbury, and then as a graduate student at SUNY Setauket.
“That Guy in Our Women’s Studies Class” is dense, and it is not for the casual reader. The memoir is chock-full of advanced literature references, extensive thinking and debates on feminist theory, and thought-provoking theory about society and the way the world is structured. For readers not interested in women’s studies, feminist theory, sociology or psychology, this book may not be the best choice. But for a reader who is ready to question privilege and social identity, this book is the way to go.
It can be confusing. For starters, there are numerous characters introduced in the book that are difficult to keep track of. Additionally, it can be tiring wading through Derek’s longwinded theoretical monologues. Sometimes it stops feeling like reading a book and starts feeling like homework. For someone without much experience reading sociological theory, it may be easy to get lost.
That being said, it is a thoughtful and inspiring read. Derek is a well-meaning protagonist who sometimes lets his ego get in the way of his progress. It is easy to get attached to and root for him, while also chiding him on his decisions. He is brilliant and headstrong, and he has an incendiary way of moving ahead in his studies without considering how it may look to his peers and professors. He is unafraid to burn bridges and does not consider the consequences until later. But his heart is in the right place, and his arguments are all dedicated to furthering the fight for women, gender nonconforming people, mentally ill people and other marginalized populations.
“That Guy in Our Women’s Studies Class” is not a book that one can pick up and read in a day and then move on. Deciding to read this memoir is an investment, but the payoff is worth it. People interested in obtaining a copy of this book can find it on Amazon or at Barnes & Noble, and they can read other reviews on Goodreads.
Allan D. Hunter has a collection of feminist theory papers, along with his other book “GenderQueer: A Story From a Different Closet” (2020). His most popular feminist theory paper, “Same Door, Different Closet: A Heterosexual Sissy’s Coming-Out Party,” was a groundbreaking academic paper published in the journal “Feminism and Psychology,” and has been reprinted twice. More information can be found on his website, as well as his blog and a contact form.