let me start from an analogy. you walk into a bar and join a table of random people talking vividly. you ask what they're going on about:
-what you all talking about?
-well, about the plausibility of m-theory.
-uh, what's that about?
-we're just debating whether it really is necessary to add the 11th dimension or not.
-um, i'm not following... what's the m-theory?
-oh, do you know quantum mechanics?
-i've heard of it.
-have you studied physics?
-in high school.
-oh, well, our topic is a little complicated, really...
-no, no, explain.
-it's about relativity, not really all that easy to put in simple terms... let's just leave it at that.
the point being, hardly any lay(wo)man would feel insulted if they did not understand a group of physicists discussing a theory. nor would they think it was rude if they were reluctant in explaining it to them because the process, quite honestly, takes a significant amount of time and effort.
moreover, the same applies to any field of science: if you barely know the basics, it is considered natural that you may not understand the highly theoretical questions and discussions. the same applies to scientific papers and books: take a scientific journal of a foreign field and i bet you have a hard time understanding what the abstracts are about, let alone the articles.
there's a particular field of research that is an exception to the rule in finland, namely gender studies. for some reason it is incredibly common to dismiss the entire field because theoretical discussions seem incomprehensible for lay(wo)men. moreover, nowhere else will you find students and researchers claiming that another field is "useless babble" because they find the theory complicated.
it is often claimed that gender studies should be graspable because it deals with topics that are part of our everyday lives. well, as far as i can tell existing is pretty everyday, but i dare you to show me a person not trained in philosophy who understands theoretical discussions on ontology. my material body follows me every day, but i, again, dare you to read theoretical postulations on cell biology and understand them without prior training in the field. and yes, gravity affects me all the time, but immersion into the fundamentals behind planck's constant does require some basic knowledge. i read several works of fiction a year, but still i do not expect to understand a complicated literary analysis of any given novel without expertise. to me, that's the beauty of theoretical work: i goes deeper into the realms of our world than ordinary speech.
for some reason the finnish discourse on gender studies seems to ignore some fundamentals of scientific research. for example, a popular claim is that there's plenty of shoddy research in gender studies. well show me a field of research where there isn't, please. yet another is that there are extremely bad theories just begging to be destroyed. well, i'm glad we did not toss psychology with freud's notoriously circular theory because somehow i think we can use a field of analysis that deals with human behavior. not to mention that this particular theory actually hurt numerous individuals when applied.
the most typical attack directs towards the jargon used, and, yes, i dare you to show me a field of research where jargon is not quintessential once the discussion is elevated from the most basic level.
what i mean is that science is an ongoing communicative process where ideas are presented, evaluated, accepted or rejected and novel ideas are developed further. some fields use empirical tests, but most do not. theory guides everything and they are presented and rejected as they come along. most ideas and topics within a field are hardly self-explanatory or common-sensical, because they are raised from the internal discourse.
the bashing gender studies is subjected to repeatedly would not bother me if it wasn't so intellectually cheap. i am well aware of the many problematic aspects of gender theories and theorists. it may come down to the official finnish name: 'women's studies' does rub many egalitarian finns the wrong way – especially in this age of conservative backlash. i dunno.
generally speaking, nowhere else does it seem to come as a presupposition that theoretical works should come simply translatable to lay(wo)men terms but with theories of gender. you don't hear people demanding that departments of psychology should be shut down because they just cannot understand the latest contributions in psychological review. moreover, nowhere else do you hear people who have not spent one moment inside the walls of a university claim that they actually know whether something is theoretically solid or not.
i find it all quite sad, really. what do you think?