Women’s and Gender Studies: Introduction 680:040:01

Spring 2010, TuTh, 2:00-3:15 Lang 345

Dr. Cate Palczewski, Lang 341, x32714, email: palczewski@uni.edu

last updated March 3, 2010


Office Hours:

  • Tuesday 3:30-5:00
  • Wednesday 1:15-3:15
  • Thursday 3:30-5:00

If these times do not work, feel free to call (319.273.2714) or email to make an appointment.

No office hours on February 15-19 and March 22-23.

Acknowledgements: This course has been taught by a number of faculty across the years. Collectively, the faculty have developed goals and objectives, assignment descriptions, discussion questions, and units. Thus, this syllabus includes work done by: Dr. Phyllis Baker PhD, Dr. Deirdre A. Heistad PhD, Dr. Marybeth Stalp PhD, and Kate Niman, MA. Contributions from Dr. Harry Brod PhD and Dr. Bettina Fabos PhD also were influential. Similarities between this syllabus and others exist so that consistency in the course, despite different instructors, is maintained.

New information will appear in pink

assignment due dates are in red

links are in blue


Course Purpose: The purpose of this course is to introduce students to the academic discipline of Women’s and Gender Studies. This course is a prerequisite for some Women’s and Gender Studies courses and is required for the Women’s and Gender Studies minor. It also fulfills the LAC Social Science area 5A requirement.

Course Description: This course provides an interdisciplinary introduction to the multidisciplinary field of Women’s and Gender studies, with a specific focus on the issues of sex/gender in contemporary US society. We will investigate:

how gender is something a person performs, not something a person is;

how gender is socially constructed;

how performances of gender are informed and structured by race, class, sex, sexual orientation, religion, etc.;

how different identity ingredients help people to belong and/or be rejected in US society;

how institutions are gendered and, in turn, gender their members;

and, above all, how these various questions are posed and answered according to different discourses about gender, sex and sexuality. Are people all the same--or should we be? What makes a difference, and who decides what that difference means? What does it mean to be part of a marginalized group, and what does it mean to be part of a dominant group? How do people’s identities change (or do they?)? In short, this course is about power--how people use and are shaped by social power and how social power operates to shape people’s identities.

Course Objectives: At the end of this course, you should be able to:

1. Recognize the ways in which sex/gender is socially constructed.

2. Identify the role sex/gender plays within social (e.g., family, media, religion), economic (e.g., work), and political (e.g., law) institutions.

3. Explain the implications of the intersectionality of sex, race, ethnicity, class, sexuality, religion, etc. on an understanding of gender.

4. Distinguish between the different “waves” of feminism in order to understand and identify relationships between the past, present, and future of gender.

5. Apply the concepts and theories of Women’s and Gender studies to your life experiences to: further your understanding of your world, make informed choices, examine and evaluate your values, assume the responsibilities of citizenship, and promote change in your community, country and world.

6. Understand the process of knowledge construction about sex/gender, with particular attention to the relative benefits and drawbacks of social science and humanistic research processes.

Student Etiquette: Lively debate, discussion, and disagreement on issues are encouraged in class. But respect for other people, their opinions, and experiences is essential. The most productive way to disagree with another is to say, “I disagree with you because…” and explain and justify your position. Although everyone is entitled to her/his opinion, the reality is that some opinions are better supported and more reasonable than other opinions; thus, be able to explain why you hold the opinion you do and why you think your opinion is better supported than another’s. Engage each other in a reasoned exchange of ideas. In other words, present an argument (a claim supported by data, with reasons/warrants as to why that data is relevant to the claim).

Throughout the semester we will encounter a variety of sensitive issues. As such, we need to ensure a safe classroom and a positive learning environment. Students are asked to follow some guidelines to help maintain a constructive learning environment. Acts of racism, sexism, ageism, or any other "ism" will not be tolerated. Students engaging in such activity will be asked to leave the classroom. Class discussions should take place within the context of academic inquiry and in the spirit of understanding diverse perspectives and experiences. Do not engage in private conversations, interrupt another student who has the floor, keep pagers and cell phones on, or show general signs of disrespect for the course, professor, or other students. Non-course related materials such as newspapers and items from other courses must be stowed away when class begins. The professor reserves the right to ask any person to leave who continually disrupts the class.

Readings: (available at University Book and Supply)

ML: Kimmel, Michael S., and Messner, Michael A. (2010). Men’s lives (8th ed.). Boston: Allyn & Bacon. ISBN-10: 020569294X.

WVFV: Shaw, Susan M., and Lee, Janet. Women’s voices, feminist visions: Classic and contemporary readings (4th ed.). New York: McGraw-Hill. ISBN: 978-0-07-351228-0

Occasionally, additional readings will be linked to the syllabus. In order to access some of these readings, you will need to be working on a computer recognized as a UNI computer. If you are on a personal computer, I have provided full citations, and you can log into the UNI library and gain access to the readings that way.


General Information NECESSARY for Survival: see this link. This site includes my late policy, the university accommodation policy, as well as paper format descriptions. Really, you need to read this link!


Assignments: Assignments are worth a total of 100 points. However, for each assignment you can earn fractions of points (so, you can think of it as a 1000 point scale if it makes you feel better). If you need to figure your letter grade at any point in the semester, simply divide the number of points you have earned by the number of possible points you could have earned. For your final grade, simply add up all the points for each assignment. Points are indicated in parentheses. Simply doing the base requirements of each assignment will earn you a "C" -- this means you have done acceptable work. To earn a "B" you must go beyond the assignment expectations or fulfill them in an above average way. To earn an "A" you must go far beyond the assignment expectations and fulfill the base expectations in an exceptional manner.

Detailed descriptions of all assignments appear on this syllabus. You are free to ask questions in class about the assignments, or contact me outside of class by email or office phone. But, please be aware, I will NOT answer any questions about an assignment during the week before it is due. This means if an assignment is due on Thursday, you need to ask questions about it no later than the preceding Thursday. I recognize that students procrastinate, so, consider this an inducement to begin work early. This means if you have a question, you need to be prepared to ask it the week before an assignment is due. I will not answer questions after that time.

Page limits on all assignments will be rigorously enforced. You should spend time finding ways to write more concisely and clearly. If I find your assginments long-winded, and you go over the page limit, I will quit reading. (If however, you are brilliant and keep me captivated, I may not notice). And, given the expectations of each of the assignments, you probably will need to use the number of pages required. If, however, you are exceptionally concise, then I may not notice if your paper falls short of the required pages.

A bibliography should be turned in with every written assignment. It will not count toward your page limit. On the top of the page, indicate the style (APA or MLA) that you think you are using.

TurnItIn requirement: For all written assignments (the 5 Gender Project Assignments and the final exam), students are required to use TurnItIn in order to check they are not plagiarizing. Thus, for an assignment to be considered "turned in", students must have submitted an electronic version to TurnItIn before the assignment's due date and time, and also turn in a paper copy to the professor at the assigned due date and time. I have activated the TurnItIn website in such a way that you are allowed to submit drafts of your paper and receive originality reports. These reports should be used to assist you in making sure you are attributing authorship in an ethical way. The only originality report I will see is the final report on the version of the paper you turn into me. Students can access the TurnItIn website for each assignment via the class's eLearning site. Check the TurnItIn file, and then select the icon for the appropriate assignment. Please understand: using TurnItIn is only the first step in making sure your are abiding by citation guidelines and providing fair attribution. TurnItIn is only one way to check the originality of your work, and just because your work passes the TurnItIn check does not guarantee you have not plagiarized. You are responsible for using style manuals to make sure your citation format is correct and consistent.

Amount of work expected: The general guideline is that one semester hour of credit is the equivalent of approximately three hours of work (one hour of in-class time + 2 hours of out-of-class preparation) each week over the course of a whole semester. In a typical lecture/discussion course, each hour of class normally entails at least two hours of outside preparation for the average student. That means that for every week, students should set aside 6 hours outside of class to read, research, work on assignments, study for tests, etc. This standard is the basis on which the Registrar's Office assigns hours of University credit for courses.

1. In class discussion (20 points). Discussion participation is an integral part of this course. In order to be a full participant in discussion, you MUST have completed the assigned reading. I will open every class asking if there are questions, but beyond that, I will not review the readings. Instead, I will assume you have completed the reading, taken notes, and are ready to apply and analyze the readings.

AnaLouise Keating (Teaching Transformation, 2007, p. 196) provides the following description of good academic practices in regards to reading for class:

(1) I expect you to complete all readings by the date listed on the syllabus;

(2) I expect you to read the material thoughtfully and in an engaged manner;

(3) I expect you to read all endnotes and footnotes;

(4) I expect you to read (not skim) all of the required readings--even those you find "boring" or difficult;

(5) I expect you to reread those texts that you have previously read;

(6) I expect you to seek out definitions for words and terminology you don't know . . . try the following websites: http://plato.stanford.edu/contents.html


http://www.uoguelph.ca/culture/glossary.htm ...


For those who are uncertain about their ability to participate consistently, I suggest you do the following. For each week, I would like you to prepare a discussion log, no more than 1 single space typed page for each half, due the next class period. The log should have 2 halves:

A. Pre-class: a description of how you prepared to contribute to discussion (key concepts outlined, examples developed, questions formulated.);

B. Post-class: A self-assessment of your contribution to class using the five elements outlined in the discussion link. You should attach a grade to your participation for the class period in question.

You should then set up regular meetings with me, during which we can discuss what you have discovered by logging your discussion. We may then develop ways to improve your discussion participation and adjust grading expectations accordingly.

Being a good participant does not mean that you always have the answer; it can also mean that you know when to ask the right questions and when to recognize that the answers have already been offered by the class but need to be synthesized. Discussion is a central component of this class insofar as each person's analysis of the readings can be enhanced by others' insights. For a detailed description of the criteria used in the assessment of discussion, see my discussion link.

2. Tests

A. Test 1: (10 points) February 18

B. Test 2: (10 points) March 23

C. Final: (20 points total) The final will be a take home written exam, which you will present during the final exam period. Each student should prepare a 5 minute presentation based on their final. The presentation component will count for 5 of the 10 points assigned to the final. 1-2:50 p.m. Wednesday, May 5

1) A take home essay exam. (15 points). The exam will ask you to incorporate work done in the gender project and will be comprehensive.

2) Oral presentation: (5 points). Please bring two copies of the outline: one to speak from and one for me. Students will have approximately 5 minutes to present their exam answers. Depending on class size, the duration of the presentation may be altered. The presentation should focus on the core point the student made in the final exam.

More helpful hints:

a) Do NOT simply read your exam for your presentation. The presentation should be formal and professional, but not scripted. I suggest you speak from a detailed outline (remember to include quotations from the textbook in the outline to illustrate the points you want to make). DO practice the presentation to make sure your outline fits within the time limits. Time limits will be strictly enforced.

b) Presume the audience is not familiar with your exam, but is educated about gender. Your presentation does NOT need to include detailed definitions of common terms from the textbook. However, do provide sufficient theoretical explanation of more complicated concepts so that the audience can follow your analysis.

c) Do not try to present all the arguments in your exam. You will not be able to cover everything in just 5 minutes. Instead, give a brief overview of all your arguments, and then pick one or two on which to focus the presentation.

3. Gender project (40 points total, 8 points each) You will complete a series of 5 short (3 pages, typed, double spaced) out-of-class essays. Individually, each essay is worth 5 points; together they are worth 25% of your final grade. The gender project is designed for you to research the social construction and implications of your own gender performance.

Grading will be based on the degree of thought and depth in each essay and how the essay incorporates class readings, lecture and discussion concepts, and additional research if necessary. You should make an argument in each essay. Do not merely describe things, but make an argument about what they mean. I am looking for evidence that you have not only carefully tended to the assignment, but that you have thought critically about relevant issues. Integrating course readings into your discussion is a great way to demonstrate your understanding of the material. These papers should be written carefully and proofread—significant grammar and spelling mistakes take away from the assignments, and I will deduct points.

Although these papers are short, they are each worth 8% of your final grade and, thus, should reflect a proportional amount of work. They should be well-written, organized, free of typographical or grammatical errors, and present and support a clear thesis. In order to do well on this assignment, you may need to write a much longer draft, and then edit down to the 3 page limit.

Gender Project Assignments Due Date
Assignment 1: Gender Adventures and Social Construction week 3: 1/28
Assignment 2: Gender and the Household Division of Labor week 5: 2/11
Assignment 3: Gender Identity and the Self week 9: 3/11
Assignment 4: Gender Socialization and Gender Roles week 12: 4/1
Assignment 5: Artifact analysis week 15: 4/20

Assignment 1: Gender/Sex Adventures and Social Construction DUE week 3: 1/28

Pretend you are a visitor from another planet and you are setting out to de-code U.S. culture, in part by looking at everyday objects humans use. You have begun to suspect there are (at least) two types of humans (women and men), but the messages are quite complex. In this assignment, you will determine the different ways in which society has been divided by gender/sex by going on a scavenger hunt. To facilitate your awareness of the significance of gender/sex in the everyday world, try to locate as many items on the attached scavenger list as possible.

Find at least seven items and answer the questions indicated for each item. These questions are intended merely as starting points for your discussion. Your essay should go beyond simply answering the question for each item. If you locate 15 of the items listed, you only have to write about seven of them (though you can write about all 15 if you choose). I am especially interested in how you can make sociological sense of the items you found by drawing on class readings and discussions. Be sure that you use class concepts, theories, and terms in your analysis. Attach the items you located from the list to your paper.


1. A multiple choice question from an exam which makes assumptions about gender roles (i.e., is sexist). What assumptions are being made?

2. A cartoon or cartoon strip with a sexist premise. What assumptions are being made? How do the assumptions make the cartoon funny?

3. A photocopied paragraph from a book or article that is currently being used in a college course that uses all masculine pronouns (include the text title, copyright year, and class required for). Why is it written this way?

4. A church bulletin which uses inclusive language (“people,” “his/hers," in the prayers, responsive readings, announcements). Why is it written this way?

5. Two ads from the personals section of any newspaper: one ad seeking an attractive, pretty, cute, woman, girl, female; and one ad seeking an attractive, handsome, good-looking, man, boy, male (can use any adjectives for physical attractiveness). What are the differences, if any, between the emphasis on physical attractiveness in the ad seeking a woman and the ad seeking a man?

6. Lyrics from a relatively recent (within the past two years) popular song (title and or melody should sound familiar to people of various ages, races, etc.) that depicts a male as a sex object. Include artist and title of song. What is the message of the song, regarding men?

7. A photograph of (or rubbing from) a gravestone that says: “Wife of…” ; “Beloved wife of…”. Why are these gravestones more common than those saying “Husband of…” or “Beloved husband of…”?

8. A sexist rule, regulation, or statement in any relatively recent or current UNI document (e.g., housing rules, handbook describing the university, etc.). Do not use the school newspaper. What is it about the statement that makes it biased?

9. A greeting card congratulating the parents of a new baby that does not specify the sex of the baby. How are the illustrations and colors on the card gender-neutral?

10. From a phone book: 3 listings where a woman’s name is listed first (e.g., Doe, Mary and John). You can photocopy the listing. Why are these listings less frequent than those in which a male’s name is listed first?

11. A magazine ad in which the woman is taller than the man (both figures should be “normal sized” adults). Why is this the case (e.g., is the man lower in status than the woman in this ad)?

12. An engagement or wedding announcement that lists the groom’s parents first. Why have brides’ parents’ names traditionally been listed first?

13. A photocopy of the dedication of a book written or edited by a man (or men) to their child(ren). What is the significance of this in terms of gender?

14. Rewrite the Declaration of Independence using inclusive language (not just he/she). How does this change the nature of what is being said? Compare what you wrote to a copy of the Declaration of Sentiments.

15. Find a nursery rhyme with a male or female (or both) as the main character(s) and rewrite it to make the character(s) more androgynous. How does this change the images presented in the rhyme?

16. A picture from a department store’s catalog showing children’s clothing with sex-typical pictures on the clothes (e.g., sports, flowers, kittens). Why do parents buy these clothes for their children?

17. A table of contents from a men’s magazine listing an article about male-female relationships (this assumes some kind of emotional commitment). Why are these kinds of articles more rare in men’s magazines than women’s magazines?

18. An Old Maid card (or photocopy of one). What does this card game reveal about our attitudes toward older, single women?

19. A college course catalog listing a men’s studies course. What is the significance of this, in terms of gender?

20. A picture from a hotrod/car magazine showing an attractive young man lounging by/on a car (instead of the usual, ornamental women). What would be a good argument for showing an attractive male instead of an attractive female in this case (if you had to convince the editors of the magazine)?

21. A birthday card for a father that has flowers on it. Why do greeting cards for men usually have dark colors, pheasants, and outdoorsy stuff on them?

22. A table of contents from a men’s magazine listing a childraising article. What is the significance of this regarding gender?

23. A picture showing male athletes displaying physical affections toward one another. Why is it acceptable for them to be doing this?

24. Lyrics to a country-western song which describes nontraditional gender roles. Why has country-western music portrayed traditional gender roles for so long?

25. The business card of a car saleswoman. Aside from avoiding charges of discrimination, why would a car dealership want to hire a woman who sells cars?

After you find the items, analyze them. Collectively and individually, what do they tell you about the people on the planet? What broad social tendencies exist? How is difference and similarity institutionalized? If you were to describe the species that populates earth, how would you describe it.

Assignment 2: Gender and the Household Division of Labor DUE 2/11 week 5

You will use your own household for this assignment. You may use your childhood household if you prefer, or the one in which you currently live. But, if you live alone or with no other people who share the housework and childcare, please base this assignment on a household that does (i.e., your childhood household). Also, try to use a household that includes or included small children. Describe the members of your household’s gender, race/ethnicity, social class, age. What percentage of each person’s time is spent on paid work? What percentage of the household income is contributed by each person who does paid work? Who pays the bills? Who decides how the household’s surplus or discretionary income is spent? Who does most of the following jobs? (If shared, about how many times/week does each person do the job)?

  • Child care, including feeding, bathing, dressing, putting to sleep, playing with, taking to school, daycare
  • Meal preparation, including food shopping, washing dishes
  • Personal laundry (clothing), household laundry (sheets, towels)
  • Bedmaking
  • Vacuuming/dusting
  • Cleaning kitchen/bathroom
  • Taking out garbage
  • Mowing lawn, other yard work
  • Car maintenance, getting gas for car, lawnmower
  • Pet care, feeding

How were these chores allocated? By whom? Do they rotate? Are there arguments about who does what? How are these resolved? What is the relationship between the time spent in paid work and the time spent in housework and the amount of income each person brings into the household? What was the first paid work job you had?

After collecting and analyzing the data, what can you say about how the institutions of work and family intersect? What can you say about how family constructs and is constructed by gender?

Assignment 3: Gender Identity and the Self DUE 3/11 week 9

The purpose of this paper is to get you to think about the path you’ve been on in your life and about how you got here and where you are going. It also gives you a chance to describe your life beyond your role as a student in this class. Answer the following questions in essay form. You may turn in diagrams to help illustrate your points if you wish. The concepts of intersectionality and privilege should play a major role in your answer.

  • How does being a member of your race intersect with what you consider to be your gender and your sex?
  • In terms of your gender, what do you enjoy about being a member of the ethnic group you are?
  • How does being as old or as young as you are affect how you enjoy or dislike your gender?
  • Are there any rights, privileges, or maybe any freedom you get from being a gendered/sexed member of the social class you belong to?
  • Being the gender/sex you are presenting, does the kind of work you do give you anything particular that enhances that gender presentation, either materially or socially?
  • Is there something that gives you pride in your gender/sex that you get from being as educated (or not) as you are?
  • Do your religious, philosophical, or spiritual beliefs make it good to be the gender you are?
  • Is there something about your body type, shape, abilities, or disabilities that you really like?
  • Is there some sort of security or safety you get out of defining yourself in terms of the gender/sex or genders/sexes to which you are romantically attracted ?
  • What does simply being the gender/sex you were assigned at birth give you?
  • How do your politics or your political beliefs make being the gender/sex you are pleasing to you?
  • For someone of your gender/sex, is how much economic power you do or don’t wield particularly pleasing or disappointing to you?
  • What sort of comfort or security do you get from defining yourself by your relationship to someone else (familial or otherwise)?
  • What gendered benefits do you derive by reason of your membership in some club, group, party, or organization?
  • In addition to those listed above, what benefits or perks do you get form other identities or self-descriptives you use for yourself?
  • In addition to those listed above, what privileges or comforts do you enjoy by reason of any other identities or descriptives that others define you by?

After considering all these questions, think about the ways in which you perform gender. In what ways do you accept hegemonic interpretations (institutional and symbolic) in your micropolitical (individual) actions? In what ways do macropolitics construct your sense of self? In what ways does your performance follow, or diverge from, the gender script?

Assignment 4: Gender Socialization and Gender Roles DUE April 1 week 12

Socialization is the process by which people learn the characteristics of their group (race, gender, sex, class, religion, education level, occupation, hobbies, etc.)—the attitudes, values, and actions thought appropriate for them. The purpose of this exercise is to get you to think about the various definitions you learned in the context of your family, such as “woman” and “man.” Answer the following questions in essay format, using active voice.

  • Are you an only child or do you have siblings?
  • How does the size of your family affect your life experiences?
  • How do you view people who are in family structures other than yours (how do onlies view families with siblings and vice versa?)
  • What is your position in your family (1st child, 5th, etc.)?
  • Has your position affected your experience in your family?
  • Are you expected to behave a certain way because you are the oldest, middle, or youngest?
  • How about if you’re the only child—are there expectations present of which you are aware?
  • How many sisters do you have?
  • How many brothers do you have?
  • Did you grow up in a home with both parents? Other adults?
  • Did one or both parents work outside the home while you were growing up?
  • Do one or both of your parents work outside the home now?
  • Were there any strong ethnic influences in your family?
  • Were there any strong religious influences in your family?
  • What behavior was defined as “sissy” in your family?
  • What behavior was defined as “tomboy” in your family?
  • What chores did girls do at your home?
  • What chores did boys do at your home?
  • Did boys and girls have the same rules?
  • What punishments were administered to girls?
  • What punishments were administered to boys?
  • Give an example of presents/gifts that were differentiated by gender.
  • Give an example of clothing differentiated by gender.
  • Did either boys or girls get more in the way of physical closeness from parents?
  • Did parents differ in the amount of physical closeness given?
  • Was there any difference between girls and boys in secrets/personal material shared by parents with children?
  • If possible: give a short description of a person of your gender, (the ideal woman/man is...) according to the way that you think your father sees it.
  • Give a short description of a person of your gender, (the ideal woman/man is...) according to the way that you think your mother sees it.
  • Do you think you got your idea of what it means to be a man or a woman primarily from one or the other of your parents? If not them, then from whom did you get this information?

After answering the questions and analyzing the data collected from this memory work/autoethnography, analyze it. What can you say about the family as a site of socialization? What gender performances were rehearsed and coached?

Assignment 5: Artifact analysis Due April 20, week 15

Select a social institution of interest: family, education, work, media, religion. Select an artifact (or if it is short, a combination of artifacts) from this institution that you feel can be analyzed from a gendered perspective. An artifact must be something original from the social institution, such as a specific grade school’s curriculum, textbook, anti-bullying policy; a university’s guidelines for athletes; media advertisements; a movie or television sit-com; a selection from brochures or speech texts of religious groups; businesses’ policy statements on sexual harassment, or guidelines for promotion; laws on equal pay, rape, marriage; health care guidelines or advice; an advice book on family communication, parent/child communication, etc.

A gendered analysis means that you select relevant concepts from this course to apply as you conduct a close analysis of the artifact, and answer the following questions:

A) How is this artifact (and thus its institution) gendered or how does it gender? Describe and analyze the artifact. Consider both the visual and verbal components of the artifact. How do you believe gender (and perhaps race, social class, heterosexism, etc.) is being constructed, maintained, and/or changed through this institutional artifact?

B) How does the used of a gendered lens expand, alter or inform your analysis?

C) Finally, does this cultural product matter and, if so, what change do you recommend?

D) Attach a copy of the artifact to the paper and bring a version of it to class that can be seen by the entire class (advertisements can be placed on the elmo projector, a digital image of a billboard could be shown on the computer, a song could be played (but bring a copy of the lyrics for everyone to read).

You must apply 3 or more relevant concepts from the course to defend your interpretations. Be prepared to share your analysis in class as we discuss each social institution.


Syllabus: (This syllabus is subject to change, although that rarely happens.) If changes happen, they will be in hot pink. For both WVFV and ML, introductions to sections are assigned by their page numbers (i.e. pp. 1-24); specific articles are assigned by their chapter and numbers (thus, ML 3.19 means Men’s Lives chapter 3, reading 19).

Week 1: January 12, 14: Introduction to Women’s and Gender Studies

Key terms: social science, humanities, quantitative research, qualitative research, critical research, normal v. normative, privilege, sex roles, social construction, hegemony, androcentrism, gender, first wave, second wave, third wave, patriarchy, radical feminism, liberal feminism, postmodern feminism, Marxist feminism, pro-feminist men, misogyny

Read for January 12: WVFV pp. 1-24

Discussion questions:

1) Throughout high school and college classes, textbooks present knowledge claims to you – claims about how institutions work, how people act, how societies function. How did the authors of your textbooks come to know these things?

2) What are the different “waves” of feminism. How much do you know about each wave? Find one example of activism from a wave, and be able to describe it to the class.

3) What did you think feminism was before reading this introduction? What are the differences between your understanding of feminism, and the books description of feminisms?

Read for January 14: ML xi-xix

Discussion questions:

1) Kimmel and Messner (2010) write: “We come to know ourselves and our world through the prism of gender – only we act as if we didn’t know it” (p. xi). In what ways do you know the world through the prism of gender? Are there example where you knew the world through the prism of gender, but were unaware of how gender constructed your interpretation of the world?

2) Kimmel and Messner (2010) write: “We may be born males or females, but we become men and women in a cultural context” (p. xiv). In what ways did your cultural context man you or woman you?

Week 2: January 19, 21: Developing a vocabulary, understanding the variables

Key terms: feminism, sex, gender, sex/gender, intersex, sexuality, sexual orientation, race, class, intersectionality, sex/gender binary, heteronormativity

Read for January 19:

  • WVFV pp. 124-139
  • WVFV 1.2 Baumgardner & Richards
  • WVFV 1.3 Siegel
  • WVFV 1.4 hooks

Discussion questions:

1) Before class and before you do the readings for January 21, take some time to map out a picture of yourself on a sheet of paper, indicating all the influences on your identity. Bring this to class.

Read for January 21:

  • ML pp. 1-2
  • ML 2.10 Ferguson
  • ML 2.8 Kivel
  • ML7.29 Messner

Discussion questions:

1) What are the different categories into which we place people? Are there tendencies in the way we categorize? Do we let people be more than one thing at once?

2) Is there an “act like a woman” box?

3) What are the “micropolitics of social interactions” (Ferguson, 2010, p. 104)?

4) What does it mean to say gender is “something we do in a performance” (Ferguson, 2010, p. 104)? And, why and how is this performance “compulsory”?

5) How is memory work (or autoethnography) a sociological method?

Week 3: January 26, 28: Questioning Sex

Key terms: sex, intersex, transgender, transsexual, outsider/within sociological method, gendered organization theory

Read for January 26:

Discussion questions:

1) Read a few newspaper and magazine articles about the controversy over Caster Semenya. Given what you now know about the existence of intersexed bodies, how might you critique the news coverage of her? For sample articles, see

Access via Lexis/Nexis:

  • Hersh, Philip. (2009, August 20). Gender issues: Others in 800 meters raise questions about surprise winner Caster Semenya of South Africa; international officials start inquiry. Los Angeles Times, C1.
  • Hart, Simon. (2009, August 20). Is runner male or female?; 'Medical Issue'. National Post (Canada), A2.
  • Clarey, Christopher. (2009, August 20). Gender test after a gold-medal finish. The New York Times, B13.

Access via Academic OneFile

  • A question of sex; Intersexuality (Male, female or what?). (2009, October 17). The Economist, 393(8653), 6.
  • Perry, Alex. (2009, September 14). Postcard: Masehlong. Time, 174(10), 6.
  • Epstein, David. (2009, September 7). Well, is she or isn't she? Sports Illustrated, 111(9), 24.
  • Erbe, Bonnie. (2009, August 21). Runner Caster Semenya and family should understand gender questions. U.S. News & World Report Online.

Read for January 28:

  • ML 4.19 Schilt
  • ML 5.22 Steinem
  • Stanford University Medical Center. (2006, July 14). Transgender experience led Stanford scientist to critique gender difference. ScienceDaily.
  • Barres, Ben A. (2006, July 13). Does gender matter? Nature 442.7099: 133-6.

Discussion questions:

1) What does Schilt’s study tell you about the use of qualitative methods in the social sciences? How does it enable researchers to “control” for sex/gender variables?

2) Steinem playfully hypothesizes about what would happen if men could menstruate. What other questions might you ask that would expose the role of sex/gender in organizing society?

Assignment 1: Gender Adventures and Social Construction Due January 28

Week 4: February 2, 4: Questioning Gender: Femininity

Key terms: social construction of gender, gender as process/stratification/structure, hegemonic ideals

Read for February 2:

  • WVFV 3.20 Lorber
  • Access via Jstor: West, Candace, and Zimmerman, Don H. (1987, June). Doing gender. Gender and Society, 1(2), 125-151. Link
  • Angelou visit to see Angelou perform an excerpt of the poem or You Tube to hear her read the whole of it

Discussion questions:

1) Lorber (WVFV) provides an apt description of hegemony: “Most people . . . voluntarily go along with their society’s prescriptions for those of their gender status, because the norms and expectations get built into their sense of worth and identity . . .” (p. 144). Given this, how is Angelou’s poem anti-hegemonic?

2) How is gender a social institution?

Read for February 4:

  • Access via Ebscohost: Snell, Marilyn. (1997, May/June). Homework time [interview with Arlie Hochschild]. Mother Jones, 22(3), 26. link

Discussion questions: Think about the way your family structures responsibilities. What types of tasks were the boys and girls given? What tasks did men and women do (think about the holidays – what different tasks were performed?)

Week 5: February 9, 11: Questioning Gender: Masculinity

Key terms: hegemonic masculinity, masculinities, female masculinity, drag kings

Read for February 9:

  • ML pp. 117-119
  • ML 2.6 Kane
  • ML 3.11 Kimmel

Discussion question:

1) Can you think of instances where masculinity is rewarded or punished?

Read for February 11:

  • Access via Project Muse: Halberstam, Judith. (2001). “Oh behave! Austin Powers and the drag kings,” GLQ: A Journal of Lesbian and Gay Studies, 7(3), 425-452. Link

Discussion questions: can you think of other instances of female masculinity or drag kings?

Assignment 2: Gender and the Household Division of Labor Due February 11

Week 6: February 16, 18 (Lynn): View Codes of Gender Email library

Key terms: androgynous, gynandrous, gender/sex indeterminate, transsexual, transgender, gender display, gender code, feminine/masculine touch, licensed withdrawal, infantilization

Read: watch video. Make sure you arrive to class on time. The video runs 73 minutes, and so it will start promptly at 2:00pm. You will be responsible for the video’s content on the midterm.

Thought questions:

1) When Sut Jhally says, “while we are born with a set of different individual physical and biological characteristics, these traits are then made sense of through the categories of culture,” what does this mean?

2) Think about how you interact with others (superiors, equals, subordinates) throughout the day. Do you find yourself participating in the “ritualization of subordination”?

February 18: Test 1

Week 7: February 23, 25: Questioning Sexuality and Sexual Orientation

Key terms: sexuality, sexual orientation, queer, heteronormative, bisexuality, homosexuality, heterosexuality, sexual scripts, sexual self-schemas, sexual identity, homophobia

Read for February 23:

  • WVFV pp. 170-185
  • WVFV 4.26 Schwartz & Rutter
  • WVFV 4.27 hooks
  • WVFV 4.28 Baumgardner

Discussion questions:

1) Which social institutions, practices and rituals maintain heteronormativity?

Read for February 25:

  • ML pp. 369-371
  • ML 7.30 Rochlin
  • ML 7.31 Jensen
  • ML 2.7 Pascoe
  • WVFV 2.12 Pharr

Discussion questions:

1) In what ways does power manifest in people’s understanding of romance?

2) As you completed “The Heterosexual Questionnaire”, what were your reactions? Could you identify ways heterosexuality is “flaunted”?

3) When Iowa was considering its Defense of Marriage Act in 1998, Representative Ed Fallon delivered a speech to the state legislature. In part of the speech, he “came out”: “Well, I suppose this is as good a time as any for me to come out of the closet. I can't help the way I was born. It's just who I am. I've never announced this to a group publicly, but I guess it's about time. I am heterosexual. I am absolutely certain in my entire being that I could never be homosexual, no matter how hard I might try. I've never been attracted to another man in my life, and the idea of engaging in a homosexual act is foreign and distasteful to me. But just as I would hope that homosexual men and women could accept me for who I am, I promise to try to accept them for who they are. Why can't you do the same? Why can't we all do the same?” Full text Why is this passage thought-provoking?

Week 8: March 2, 4: Intersectionality

Key terms: identity ingredients, intersectionality, gender as institutional/individual/symbolic, empathy, machismo/macho. tough guys/cool pose, masculinity as negotiated within male peer groups, body ethics v. body aesthetics, internalized oppression

Read for March 2:

  • WVFV 2.9 Collins
  • WVFV 6.50 Silliman et al.
  • WVFV 5.37 Rubin, Fitts & Becker

Discussion questions:

1) In what ways does an understanding of intersectionality enable you to better analyze power?

2) Can you identify ways in which your performance of femininity (or your understanding of what passes as an acceptable performance of femininity) is influenced and structured by race, class, sex?

Read for March 4:

  • ML 1.4 Mirandé
  • ML 3.12 Harper
  • WVFV 10.76

Discussion questions:

1) Can you identify ways in which your performance of masculinity (or your understanding of what passes as an acceptable performance of masculinity) is influenced and structured by race, class, sex?

2) Isolate how other identity ingredients (other than race, sex, or class) can influence a person’s understanding, and performance of, gender.

Week 9: March 9, 11: Questioning Power and Privilege

March 8: Campus event. Dr. Barbara J. Berg, who recently wrote the book, Sexism in America: Alive, Well, and Ruining Our Future is scheduled to speak on the evening of March 8, which is a Monday. It is scheduled for the Center for Multicultural Education, in the Union, at 7pm.

Key terms: hegemony, power, privilege, violence continuum, white privilege, male privilege, institutions, language, gendered/sexed violence, cyberstalking, cycle of violence, rape, asymmetrical social roles, violence as a public health issue

Read for March 9:

  • WVFV pp. 60-75
  • WVFV 555-577
  • WVFV 2.10 Frye
  • WVFV 2.13 McIntosh

Discussion questions:

1) What are some of your locations of privilege?

2) What are some of your locations of subordination?

Read for March 11:

  • ML 1.2 Deutsch
  • ML 10.43 Gilligan

Discussion questions:

1) Why is Gilligan’s essay about gendered violence in a unit on power and privilege? Why is gendered violence an issue of privilege, and a refusal of that privilege?

2) Can you identify any instances where a refusal of privilege is valued in popular culture? For example, in Glee episode 8 (“The Slushie War Has Commenced”), a theme of the episode is the ability of the “cool kids” to give the not-so-cool kids a slushie facial. Finn, in fact, is forced to slushie Kurt in order to continue to fit into the football team. Eventually, Finn makes clear his commitment to the Glee Club, and it is celebrated. Of course, though, Finn continues to play football, so he is not really forced to refuse his privilege, but he is forced to accept the consequences of being non-privileged. Can you think of other examples where a privilege is refused? Can you think of examples where continue privilege is left unremarked?

Assignment 3: Gender Identity and the Self due March 11

Week 10: March 16, 18: Spring Break

Week 11: March 23 (NDT), 25: Questioning Institutions: Family

March 23 Test 2

Key terms: second shift, THE family v. families, nuclear family, true womanhood, family values, feminine mystique, mothering/fathering/parenting, institutional connections, strategies men use to resist, household labor from an interectional perspective

Read for March 25:

  • WVFV pp. 378-395
  • ML pp. 411-413
  • ML 8. 34 Deutsch
  • ML 8.35 Shelton & John
  • Access via Academic OneFile: Coontz, Stephnie. (2006, July 6). Just which 'traditional' marriage should we defend? [editorial]. AScribe Law News Service. Link
  • Access via Academic OneFile: Coontz, Stephanie. (2005). "The evolution of matrimony: The changing social context of marriage." Annals of the American Psychotherapy Association 8(4), 30+. link

Discussion questions:

1) In what ways does the normative conception of marriage and family define what is normal?

2) What is marriage?

3) What is family?

4) If you live with others, particularly in a mixed sex setting, keep track of time spent doing household labor (use the categories in ML p. 427). Do you see disparities in the household work?

Week 12: March 30, April 1: Questioning Institutions: Work

Key terms: gendered organizations, work/family tensions, gendered lens, sexual harassment, girl watching, gender/sex wage gap, blue collar/white collar/link collar, housework as political, welfare as a feminist issue, glass ceiling/escalator/precepice, work as gendered, cover story

Read for March 30:

  • WVFV pp. 426-447
  • WVFV 8.60 Hesse-Biber & Carter
  • WVFV 8.61 Ehrenreich
  • WVFV 8.59 Mainardi
  • WVFV 11.87 Bravo

Discussion questions:

1) What does it mean to say that organizations are gendered?

2) In what situations at work have you seen tasks gendered?

3) In an editorial (“Mothers at Work Are Canaries in the Mine”) by Charlotte Fishman, a WeNews commentator, writes: “Recently, the Labor Project for Working Families published a family-friendly handbook, ‘A Job and a Life: Organizing and Bargaining for Work Family Issues.’ We are in the middle of a major, dislocating social transformation. . . . one that seeks work-family balance.” Do you see evidence in your workplaces of attempts to balance work and family for men and women? Charlotte Fishman is executive director of Pick Up the Pace, a nonprofit organization whose mission is to identify and eliminate barriers to women's advancement in the workplace. She is an employment attorney specializing in academic tenure discrimination and represented Laurie Freeman before the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. She can be reached at cfishman@sbcglobal.net.

4) Often, when women who are primary caregivers use day care, they are seen as bad mothers. Why is it putting a child in daycare does not make a man a bad father? Discuss the way this gives insight into the existence of double standards and the way motherhood figures into women’s identity differently than fatherhood does into men’s.

Read for April 1:

  • ML 175-177
  • ML 4.17 Henson & Rogers
  • ML 4.18 Quinn

Discussion questions:

1) Have you ever been through a sexual harassment workshop at school or work? Think about what you were taught. Now think about the way Quinn concludes her article by arguing that developing empathy is central to combating sexual harassment. Given this, how might her insights change the way organizations do training about sexual harassment?

Assignment 4: Gender Socialization and Gender Roles Due April 1

Week 13: April 6, 8: Questioning Institutions: Education

Key terms: hidden curriculum, hegemonic ways of knowing, emancipatory education, cheerleading as gendered performance, waror narratives, bricolage, public/private, fraternal bond/sexist jokes

Read for April 6:

  • ML 2.5 Jordan & Cowan
  • WVFV 3.21 Bettis & Adams
  • ML 3.13 Lyman
  • WVFV 10.80 Carr

Discussion questions: 1) In what ways is education a gendered institution?

Read for April 8:

  • WVFV 1.1 Rich

Discussion questions:

1) How would you describe your rights and responsibilities as a student? How do these compare to Rich’s description of rights and responsibilities?

2) What is the purpose of a college education?

Week 14: April 13, 15: Questioning Institutions: Media part 1

Key terms: media, hegemony, polysemy, polyvalence

Read for April 14:

  • WVFV pp. 498-514
  • WVFV 9.68 Anzaldúa
  • WVFV 9. 71 Pozner & Seigel
  • WVFV 9.72 de Leon
  • WVFV 9.73 Armstead

Discussion question: What is one of your favorite media forms (TV show, band, movie)? In what ways does it maintain and challenge normative gender?

Read for April 15:

  • WVFV 9.75 Valenti
  • WVFV 3.23 Wajcman

Discussion questions: In what ways are new communication technologies affecting the performance of gender? How do you do gender in a tweet? On Facebook or Myspace?

Week 15: April 20, 22: Questioning Institutions: Media

Key terms: media, hegemony, polysemy, polyvalence

Read for April 20:

  • ML 463-465
  • ML 9.38 Messner & de Oca
  • ML 9.41 Williams

Discussion question: What artifacts did you discover? What argument did you make about them?

Assignment 5: Artifact analysis Due April 20

Read for April 22:

Discussion questions:

1) Are there elements of the culture industry that you disagree with? How might you counter it?

2) What does it mean for masculinity to be “in crisis”?

Week 16: April 27, 29: Provisional and Contingent Answers

Key terms: you should provide them

Read for April 27:

  • WVFV pp. 707-721
  • WVFV 13. 100 Hogeland
  • WVFV 13.102 Kimmel

Discussion question: What is the interrelation between personal politics and institutional change?

Read for April 29:

  • ML pp. 573-575
  • ML 11.46 UN Commission on the Status of Women
  • ML 11.47 Katz
  • ML 10.50 Johnson

Discussion questions:

1) In what ways can you refuse privilege in your interpersonal interactions?

2) In what way can you work to make sure that institutions do not unfairly maintain privilege?

Week 17: Final exam: 1-2:50 p.m. Wednesday, May 5