Biden’s recent announcement about student loan forgiveness (of up to $20,000 for qualifying individuals) has reawakened the never-been-dead debate around American meritocracy. Those who are anti-forgiveness (many of whom have finished paying off their loans or have actually had them forgiven) are blue in the face insisting that if they had to pay off their loans, then everyone else has to, too—y’know, to honor the sturdy foundation on which this noble nation is built: communal suffering. And for those who are breathing a sigh of relief for the first time in a long time, this policy is only the first step in correcting this country’s heinous approach to education.
These worn out pleas have been steamrolled by the equally loud and annoying takes of those who have taken loan forgiveness as an opportunity to let their misogynistic and transphobic flags fly: New players have entered the student loan forgiveness arena, and to almost no one’s surprise, they’ve targeted some of society’s most vilified: feminists, single moms, and transgender folks. Let’s dig into the discourse.
First up on Jeopardy’s category of “people who don’t deserve student loan forgiveness:” What are Gender & Women’s Studies majors? Twitter user @AhmahChildress compiled a handful of tweets that use GWS students as the biggest scapegoat for their anti-forgiveness stances. Unsurprisingly, many have taken the “useless” angle, arguing that “truck drivers,” “plumbers,” “veterans,” and “mailmen” contribute far more meaningfully to society than those who are pursuing, as one Twitter user put it, “Medieval Gender Studies” degrees. As someone who does hold a GWS degree, I’m not exactly sure what that line of study entails, but it sounds like decapitating men might be involved. Excellent.
Whatever it might be, we sure hope that “lesbian dance theory” is on the syllabus, much to the chagrin of Colorado congresswoman Lauren Boebert:
And while it’s correct that my gender studies degree did not afford me the practical skills needed to fix a toilet or solve the current supply chain crisis, this argument feels bred from an anti-intellectualism camp fearful of feminist ideologies that might suggest that, oh, I don’t know, education is a human right that should be accessed freely and easily?
Next up, we have the what-about-me bros of the Twittersphere, also known as men who feel oppressed by all the child support they haven’t paid. As New Republic reporter Julian Epp put it, Biden’s announcement has awoken a “silent majority” among us, who are shaking their metaphorical coin cups at the idea that not financially supporting a child you had a hand in creating (who might eventually decide to go to college, might I add!) is the same as investing in a future that might help make this country less of a shitstorm than it already is. Cuz they sure as shit aren’t helping.
And last but certainly not least, we have those who are trying to use loan forgiveness as yet another reason to discriminate against trans people. Today, The Federalist published an article that argues that “if young adults can make permanent, major changes to their bodies, they can repay the money they borrowed to go to college.” The writer then launches into a pretty transphobic tirade against gender-affirming care I won’t get into, which is hinged on an argument about consent and bodily autonomy. But you know what none of us, regardless of gender identity, ever agreed to? Spending the rest of our lives shackled to a mountain of debt because we pursued a field that should actually come with little to no financial burden.
The kicker? The government does have money to provide these services and a whole lot more, if only they’d stop funneling all of their funds into the military’s support for AR-15s. Ha ha. Seriously, just cancel our student loans, thank you.