Women’s Studies: Perspectives and Practices

Introduction
Analysis of Genders and Feminism
PDF/Power Poiint
Key Concepts  
Study Guide / Important Questions
Making Connections
Systems of Privilege and Inequality
Gender and Social Stratification
Study Guide/ Important Questions
Making Connections
Resources

Introduction

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“That man over there says that women have to be helped into carriages and lifted over ditches. Nobody ever helped me into carriages, or over mud-paddles or gives me any best place. And ain’t I a woman?
Look at my arm! I have ploughed, and planted and gathered into barns, and no man could hear me! And ain’t I a woman?
I would work as much as and eat as much as a man, when I could get it, and bear the lash as well. And ain’t I a woman?
I have borne thirteen children and seen em most all sold off to slavery, and when I cried out with my mother’s grief, none but Jesus heard me! And ain’t I a woman?”

Sojourner Truth, 1851

S. Truth’s words clearly indicate the relationship between gender and race in 1851. How has this changed in the year 2000 in the U.S. and internationally? Throughout the world, the first question parents are asked at the birth of their child is still the same: “is it a boy or a girl?” The urgency of the question reveals the great importance that all human societies attach to the differences between men and women. The division of the human species into two fundamental categories is based both on biological and cultural definitions, thus the inequalities that follow this division are dependent on the social context.  The divisions introduced in the last years suggest that modern heteromasculinity is not a singular entity set in structural opposition to femininity (Links to an external site.) and traditional binary theories of gendered binaries. 

Our approach here when dealing with gender issues will be one that would incorporate the intersection of gender, race and class. It will further incorporate experiences related to age, sexual orientation, ethnicity, physical disability, and other inequalities. We will use the approach described by Andersen and Collins (1998:3) as “a matrix of domination”. In their words,

“A matrix of domination posits multiple interlocking levels of domination that stem from the societal configuration of race, class, and gender relations. This structural pattern affects individual consciousness, group interaction, and group access to institutional Power and privileges.”
Andersen and Collins, Race, Class and Gender

CA: Wadsworth Press (1998:3)

This module introduces you to the original field of women’s studies and lays the foundation for the rest of the course. Chapter one of your book explains the central tenets and origins of the discipline and discusses the status of women’s studies in higher education. This narrative is an overview of the objectives of the discipline and an introduction to feminism as a political theory and individual and collective practice. It introduces different kinds of feminism and contextualizes these developments in transnational feminist work. The final section discusses the myths associated with feminism and provides tools for debunking the various stereotypes and misinformation associated with this concept.

So put on your thinking cup and try to look at gender relations with a critical and analytic mind. Very often the terms sex and gender are used interchangeably. In sociology they hold different significance.

Sex refers to the biological distinction between females, males and non binary individuals.

Gender refers to the significance a society attaches to categories of femininity and masculinity in a heteronormative context. No sex is inherently superior or inferior, but most cultures include notions of male superiority.

Margaret Mead’s gender studies in three New Guinea societies show the relativity of gender. She found that:

  • Among the Arapesh, both sexes would be described by U.S. citizens as feminine.
  • Among the Mundugumor, both sexes would be described by U.S. citizens as masculine.
  • Among the Tchambuli, gender roles reverse U.S. standards.

Mead concluded that these case studies prove that gender does vary across cultures, but critics charge that Mead oversimplified.

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Analysis of Genders and Feminism

Theoretical Analysis of Gender

  1. Structural-functional analysis suggests that traditional sex roles emerged in hunting and gathering societies where they promoted the efficient functioning of the family. Each sex played a role that complemented the role played by the other, with men taking the instrumental part and women the expressive.
  2. Social-conflict analysis explains contemporary sex roles in terms of dominance, subordination, and sexism. This perspective draws heavily on the work of Friedrich Engels (Karl Marx’s partner), who felt that capitalism intensified male domination.

Feminism

Feminism is the advocacy of social equality for all people in opposition to patriarchy and sexism.

  1. Basic feminist ideas:
    • The need for change.
    • Expanding human choice.
    • Eliminating gender stratification.
    • Ending sexual violence.
    • Promoting sexual autonomy.
  2. Some historical variations within feminism.
    • Liberal feminism: This includes women who are willing to work within the system as long as they achieve the same status as men.
    • Socialist feminism: This includes women who argue that as long as gender relations operate within the capitalist system they will remain unequal. They also criticize liberal feminists for being oblivious to race and class differences among women.
    • Radical feminism: This includes women who expect total equality among all individuals.

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Power Point

Click here to view the link for Module 1 – Matrix of Domination Family PDF

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Key Concepts 

Centering women as subjects of study; androcentrism, gender, women’s movement, “the personal is political,” patriarchy, first wave, second wave and third wave feminist activity and their associated social movement activity and legal changes, institutionalization of women’s studies, goals and objectives of women’s studies, definitions of feminism, liberal feminism, radical (or cultural/difference) feminism, lesbian feminism, ecofeminism, Marxist feminism, socialist feminism, global feminism, transnational feminism and international women’s issues, feminist backlash, postfeminism, postmodernism, myths associated with feminism and non-binary existence, and debunking the myths and stereotypes associated with feminism.

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Study Guide / Important Questions

Please read the following questions critically and try to find answers to them from your readings or other sources.

  1. Define women’s studies as a discipline.
  2. Explain in your own words what it means to put women on center as subjects of study. This has involved two strategies resulting in changes on college campuses. What are these strategies and their consequences?
  3. Be able to explain the founding of women’s studies and understand its relationship to androcentrism in higher education. What is the relationship between women’s studies and the women’s movement? What is “mainstreaming”?
  4. What does it mean to say that women’s studies in its early years “lacked inclusivity”? How did Black women’s studies come about?
  5. Overview the legal changes associated with the women’s movement of the 1960s and 1970s and their consequences for women’s lives today.
  6. Most early women’s rights activity had its roots in what social movement? Be able to name early women’s rights activists. What did Mary Wollstonecraft write, when did she write it, and why was it important? What important event for women’s rights history happened in 1848 and what came out of it? Who authored this important document? What was NAWSA, what did it stand for, and what organization did it evolve into? When did women get the vote and what amendment was it? Discuss the racism implicit in the first wave women’s movement.
  7. Define the following terms: gender, misogyny, interdisciplinary, and patriarchy. Why has integration of Women’s Studies knowledge been slower in the biological and physical sciences? What are the goals of Women’s Studies? What is meant by the term “the personal is political”? How might this term have implications for men’s education about women’s rights?
  8. Define social movement. Define feminism. What are two crucial aspects of any definition of feminism?
  9. Know the different kinds of feminism (liberal, radical, lesbian, ecofeminist, socialist, Marxist, multiracial, postmodern, third wave) and be able to compare them generally to each other. What are the origins of third wave feminism and what forces shape it? Explain how the strategies for change are different for liberal as opposed to radical feminism.  Examine the LGBTQ+ movement. 
  10. What is meant by global or transnational feminism and why is it important today? Explain how and why explanations for women’s equality and strategies for change might differ between the global north and south. What important conference occurred in 1995 that illustrated the power of transnational feminism? What are the problems associated with claiming an “universal sisterhood”?
  11. What is feminist backlash? Why are groups involved in backlash against feminism? What is this perspective called? Be able to name some women resistant to the core principles of feminism. What term resulted from their work?
  12. The text discusses five ways that feminism has been discredited. What are these? Be able to counter these myths.

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Making Connections

Again, read the following questions critically and try to connect the answers to your lives:

  1. How has the women’s movement affected your life?
  2. How do you define feminism?
  3. Draw a feminist and explain what this person looks like.
  4. Are there any feminist clubs/groups on your campus?  How “inclusive’ are feminist groups on campus about issues affecting women of color?
  5. How prominent are women administrators on your campus? Where do they hold power? How many of these women are women of color?

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Systems of Privilege and Inequality

This part focuses on the differences between women and the ways these differences are institutionalized into patterns and practices of privilege and inequality. The emphasis is on the social construction of ranking of differences and the effects of these practices on the lives of women. Alongside sexism, this chapter explores the practices of colonialism and imperialism as well as the following systems of inequality and privilege: racism, classism, heterosexism, ageism, ableism, and looksism. The chapter analyzes the role of societal institutions in establishing and maintaining systems of inequality and privilege as well as the role of ideology and language.

Key concepts: difference, mythical norm, normalization, hierarchy, stratification, target group, non-target group, privilege, entitlement, ranking, systems of inequality and privilege, racism, sexism, classism, heterosexism, ageism, ableism, looksism, compulsory heterosexuality, privilege, prejudice, confluence, intersecting identities, imperialism, colonialism, language, homophobia, hate crimes, sexual terrorism, societal institutions, ideologies, stereotypes, bootstrap myth, internalization, horizontal hostility, target and non-target groups, hate crimes, misogyny, sexual terrorism, empathy, alliances.

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Gender and Social Stratification

  1. Refers to a society’s unequal distribution of wealth, power, and privileges between the two sexes.
  2. In recent decades in the U.S., the percentage of women, including mothers of young children, who work outside the home has skyrocketed.  Women’s entry into the labor market has not substantially reduced their involvement in housework as husbands have resisted increasing their participation in these tasks.
    • However, women continue to enter a narrow range of occupations, with almost half in clerical or service work. Furthermore, the greater a job’s income and prestige, the more likely it is that the position will be held by a male.
  3. The average female full-time worker earns about 69-74 cents for every dollar earned by a male full-time employee. Opportunities for women to enter higher education in the U.S. have increased sharply in recent decades.
    • The greater responsibility for family and childcare tasks that our society has traditionally assigned to women is a factor explaining the earning differential.
    • Most of this results from the different kinds of jobs held by men vs. women.
    • Discrimination is a third critical factor.
  4. Female involvement in politics is also increasing, although very slowly at the highest levels.
  5. As technology blurs the distinction between combat and non-combat personnel, women are taking on more military assignments, though equality has not yet been achieved.
  6. Minority women are doubly disadvantaged.
  7. Women fit the definition of a minority group, although most do not think of themselves this way.
  8. Violence against women.
    • Family violence is frequently directed against women.
    • Rape is another example of violence directed against women. Sexual violence is about power, not sexuality.
    • Sexual harassment consists of comments, gestures, or physical contact of a sexual nature that are deliberate, repeated, and unwelcome.
      • Women are more likely to be sexually harassed than are men.
      • Some harassment is blatant but much of it is subtle.
    • Feminists define pornography as a form of sexual violence against women, arguing that it demeans women and promotes rape.

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Study Guide/ Important Questions

  1. What does it mean to say that humans are marked by difference? In what kinds of ways are women different from each other?
  2. What does it mean to universalize the category “woman”? What does homogeneity mean?
  3. Define colonialism and imperialism and understand the ways these practices affect women’s status worldwide.
  4. Explain what it means to rank differences and discuss how hierarchies occur.
  5. Define and name societal institutions and explain how they function – i.e. through what practices?  Discuss the 3 specific ways that societal institutions support systems of privilege and inequality and be able to give examples.
  6. Give examples of the ways institutions produce messages that shape our understanding of gender and discuss how these messages vary in accordance with other intersecting systems of inequality and privilege.
  7. Explain the ways members of target groups may come to believe in their own subordination and keep others in line.
  8. How does language function to maintain systems of inequality and privilege?

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Making Connections

  1. In what ways are “differences” institutionalized into hierarchies of inequality and privilege in your neighborhood, the high school you attended, your college or university, church, workplace, etc.?
  2. When did you experience your first understanding of sexism, racism (or other “ism”) and how did it make you feel? Were you a member of a target or non-target group? How might being a member of another group have changed the experience?
  3. Consider how various nationalities are represented in contemporary media? How are stereotypes and popular ideas about different nationalities related to the practices of imperialism?
  4. Give examples from your own experience of the ways different societal institutions support various “isms.
  5. How disability-friendly is your campus, church, and/or local grocery store? Imagine changing your campus (or other place) so that being disabled is no longer a handicap. How does this need to involve a change in mindset and paradigm shift as well as material changes? Redesign this space as disabled friendly.

The Social Construction of Gender, Power and Intimacy


Gender and Socialization
Study Guide / Important Questions
Making Connections
Study Guide / Important Questions
Making Connections
PDF
Resources
Quiz

Unit II

Unit II focuses on the social construction of gender in contemporary U.S. society and explores the concepts of gender assignment, identity, and expression, emphasizing the ways gender performances are framed by multiple structures of difference. The chapter begins with a section on the relationship between biology and culture and focuses on gender diversity, gender identity, and the practices of gender. It discusses intersexuality, “trans” identity and androgyny. The chapter continues with sections focusing on contemporary femininity and masculinity and explores the concept of gender ranking. These issues emphasize the interaction or confluence of gender and other systems of difference.

Key concepts: sex, gender, intersex, sissy, tomboy, femininity, masculinity, gender assignment, gender identity, gender expression, gender performance, biology, culture, gender socialization, intersectionality, androgyny, transgender, genderqueer, cisgender, transsexuals, transvestism, misogyny, machismo, double bind, superwoman, gender ranking and stratification, systems of inequality and privilege.

So put on your thinking cup and try to look at gender relations with a critical and analytic mind. Very often the terms sex and gender are used interchangeably. In sociology they hold different significance.

Sex refers to the biological distinction between females and males.

Gender refers to the significance a society attaches to categories of femininity and masculinity. No sex is inherently superior or inferior, but most cultures include notions of male superiority.

Margaret Mead’s gender studies in three New Guinea societies show the relativity of gender. She found that:

  • Among the Arapesh, both sexes would be described by U.S. citizens as feminine.
  • Among the Mundugumor, both sexes would be described by U.S. citizens as masculine.
  • Among the Tchambuli, gender roles reverse U.S. standards.

Mead concluded that these case studies prove that gender does vary across cultures, but critics charge that Mead oversimplified.

Sexual orientation refers to an individual’s preference in terms of sexual partners: same sex, other sex, either sex, neither sex.

  1. Heterosexuality is attraction to the opposite sex, which serves to be the norm in all industrial societies.
  2. Homosexuality is attraction to persons of the same sex.Bisexuality combines heterosexual and homosexual orientations.
    • Homophobia is the irrational fear of gay people.
    • It is difficult to determine how many people in the U.S. population are gay. Estimates regarding males range between 3 and 10 percent.
  3. The development of sexual orientation appears to involve both biological and social factors.

Hermaphrodites are human beings with some combination of female and male internal and external genitalia.

Transsexuals are people who feel they are one sex though biologically they are the other.

Patriarchy and sexism.

  • Patriarchy is a form of social organization in which, due to unequal power relations, males dominate females.
  • Matriarchy is a form of social organization in which females dominate males. No matriarchal societies are known to exist.
  • Sexism is the ideology that tends to justify and perpetuate the belief that one sex is innately superior to the other. It underlies patriarchy and harms men, women, and the society as a whole.

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Gender and Socialization

  1. Gender roles are attitudes and activities that a culture links to each sex.
  2. Parents treat male and female children differently from birth.
  3. Peer groups reinforce these differences. Boys and girls play different kinds of games and learn different styles of moral reasoning from games.
  4. Texts and curricula in schools further reinforce a culture’s gender roles.
  5. The mass media, especially television, also serve this function.

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Study Guide / Important Questions

  1. What is the distinction between sex and gender? Explain the complexity of this distinction. Understand the concepts gender assignment, gender identity, and gender expression.
  2. What does intersex mean and how have societies tended to respond to this gender ambiguity?
  3. Define the terms transgender and androgyny and explain their differences.
  4. What is the process called by which we learn gender and what does it mean to say gender is a “performance”?
  5. If masculinity is associated with the planet Mars, what planet is associated with femininity?
  6. What are contemporary norms associated with femininity and masculinity? Give examples of the various institutions that maintain these norms.
  7. Understand the socially constructed traits of “masculinity” and “femininity,” including the research by David and Brannon. Why are these terms in quotation marks?
  8. What are the limitations of masculine scripts? Explore the ways men have responded to changes in contemporary gender.
  9. What are the socially constructed traits associated with femininity? How do these limit and/or provide opportunities for women? How have notions of appropriate feminine behavior changed over the last century?
  10. Explain the two types of gender ranking and be able to give examples.

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Making Connections

  1. Do you know a superwoman (it could be yourself)? What is her life like? What are the consequences of such activity for her (or you), and for women as a group?
  2. In what ways do you think contemporary notions of masculinity are/are not changing? Give examples from your personal/family experiences.
  3. Recall the most recent television show or movie you watched. What do you learn about gender from reflecting on this show?
  4. Imagine yourself of another gender. How would your life be different? Specifically go through the day and imagine how your day might be different.
  5. Imagine yourself living a truly androgynous life. How would your life be different? Specifically go through the day and imagine how your day might be different.

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Politics of sexuality in contemporary U.S. society discusses the social construction of sexuality and explores issues of intimacy, romance, and communication.

Key concepts: gender, sexuality, sexual scripts, sexual self-schemas, sexual orientation, race, racism and anti-miscegenation, heterosexuality, lesbian and gay (homosexuality), bisexuality, queer, genderqueer, dyke, butch, femme, “coming out,” homoeroticism, compulsory heterosexuality, imperialism, heteronormativity, courtship and romantic love, sexual domination and sado-masochism, intimacy and communication.

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Study Guide / Important Questions

  1. What are the two steps in the coming-out process?
  2. Discuss the relationship between patriarchy and sexual scripts. What are the consequences of this relationship for women’s lives? How might imperialism shape women’s sexual lives? Give an example.
  3. Explain in your own words what is meant by the “politics of sexuality.” How does what we know about gender help us understand the politics of sexuality? What are the consequences for women and men in heterosexual relationships?
  4. Discuss the complexities of the term “queer” and its usage.
  5. Give examples of compulsory heterosexuality and discuss obstacles for lesbians in contemporary U.S. society. Which states have laws granting domestic partnerships or civil unions for gay and lesbian couples?
  6. Articulate the relationship between the development of romantic love and consumer culture, giving examples of the ways each maintains the other.
  7. Explain the relationship between intimacy and masculine privilege. Why are women socialized to do better with intimacy than men? How is this an example of the politics of sexuality?
  8. Discuss the different masculine and feminine ways of communicating interpersonally. What are the consequences of this for intimate relationships? How is this an example of the politics of sexuality?

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Making Connections

  1. How have the politics of sexuality affected your life?
  2. Recall a recent movie and analyze the gender politics. What do you learn about the ways gender norms shape sexual scripts?
  3. Try the following learning activities “Reality Television”; “Heteronormativity: It’s Everywhere”; “It’s in the Cards”; and “Cybersex.”
  4. What are your state’s laws on gay/lesbian unions
  5. If you are a man, consider at least one way you might change your everyday life in such a way that the consequences make your life better and enhance gender equality in relationships with others. If you are a woman, consider a man in your life (father, boyfriend, boss, husband etc.) and outline some changes in the way he acts in relationships that you believe would be good for him and for your relationship (you can decide whether you want to share these with him).


Study Guide / Important Questions
Making Connections
Study Guide / Important Questions
Making Connections
PDF
Resources
Quiz

UNIT III

Unit 3 focuses on women’s bodies as sites of struggle and resistance in contemporary U.S. society. It explores the ways the body is a gendered product, socially constructed, and framed by the ideas and practices of gender and other differences. Sections discuss the relationships between nature, the body, and femininity, and explore the “beauty” ideal, disciplinary “beauty” practices (including cosmetic surgeries), and strategies for resisting these ideals. This chapter also discusses eating disorders and the weight loss industry.

Key concepts: Nature, body, “beauty,” disciplinary “beauty” practices, body size, weight, looksism, sexism, ageism, and other systems of inequality and privilege, heteropatriachy, transgender, self-identity, double standard of aging and “beauty” by gender, objectification, globalization, bulimia, anorexia nervosa, cosmetic surgery, reality television.

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Study Guide / Important Questions

  1. Why do women often experience their bodies as sources of despair rather than empowerment? What societal institutions are involved in this?
  2. What does it mean to say the body is a site of identity and self-expression and how is this related to postmodern disruptions of binary notions of gender and more multiple and less fixed understandings of gender identity?
  3. Explain how transgender bodies disrupt the linear relationship between biology and gender identity.
  4. What does the double standard of “beauty” and aging by gender imply? How have contemporary forces of globalization affected these practices?
  5. Explain the association of women and nature using the example of menstruation. What does biological determinism mean?
  6. Be able to discuss the four points associated with “beauty” ideals and give examples.  Define disciplinary “beauty” practices and give examples. Discuss the role of the media in the construction of the female body. What are the possible consequences for women of currently popular reality shows in terms of body management? How are these practices related to the development of consumerism and global capitalism?
  7. What does “beauty” have to do with power in society? Give examples of this phenomenon.
  8. Why women, why food? Define the different types of eating disorders and summarize their occurrence in US society. Who suffers the most from these disorders? What are the causes of eating disorders?
  9. How might women resist these “beauty” ideals?

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Making Connections

  1. What exactly do you think the ideal woman’s and man’s body look like? How are these images related to systems of power and inequality? How do these ideals affect the ways you think about your own body?
  2. Watch television and list and count the various types of women’s bodies you see. Create a grid or chart concerning size, shape, age, ability, color, etc.

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The family as a major institution in the U.S. and globally, structuring practices and ideas about gender and systems of inequality and privilege. It also explores the family as a place where women experience conflict, love, relationship, and power. Subsections include definitions of the family and its demographics in US society, connections between the family as an institution and other institutions in society, power and family relationships, and mothering.

Key concepts: family, institutions, systems of inequality and privilege, global economy, militarism, imperialism, kinship, monogamy, polygamy, polygyny, polyandry, nuclear family, extended family, multigenerational families, family values, lesbian families, conflict, love, divorce, masculine privilege in families, models of family structure, parenting, mothering, lesbian mothering, Defense of Marriage Act, poverty.

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Study Guide / Important Questions

  1. Explain the distinction between family as institution and family as experience.
  2. Be able to define the following terms: kinship, monogamy, polygamy, polygyny, polyandry, nuclear family, extended family, multigenerational family.
  3. Discuss current statistics in terms of contemporary family forms. What is the most frequently occurring form? What has caused contemporary changes? Why is the multigenerational family increasing? 
  4. What is the political debate over family values? Why are feminists opposed to the political Right’s claim over family values? Discuss current legislation to “legislate” the normative family in the U.S.
  5. Explain how the family’s relationship to major institutions such as the economy and the political system is influenced by and maintains systems of inequality and privilege in society such as classism, racism, and heterosexism. Be able to give examples.
  6. Discuss examples of power in the family and explain how power is organized by gender and other systems of inequality and privilege. Discuss the 3 models for structuring marriages or domestic partnerships. Why does the equal partner/equal partner model occur relatively infrequently?
  7. What does it mean to say that although the meanings and practices of motherhood are socially constructed, in contemporary U.S. society these meanings are conflated with notions of innate, biologically-programmed behavior?

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Making Connections

  1. What is your experience of living in a family? How does your family compare with the different types of families and models of power?
  2. What messages about gender and other systems of inequality and privilege did you get from your family when you were growing up?
  3. If you are a parent, discuss the meanings of motherhood and fatherhood. What kind of a parent do you strive to become? If you are not a parent but want to be one some day, discuss the kind of a parent you would like to be. If you are not a parent and do not intend to become one, discuss your feelings and thoughts about this issue.

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PDF

Click here to view the link for Module 3 – The Family PDF
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Resources

U.S. DOL – Women’s Bureau Home Page (Links to an external site.)
Facts About Sexual Harassment (Links to an external site.)
Women’s Net (Links to an external site.)
The Society for the Scientific Study of Sexuality
http://www.sexscience.org/ (Links to an external site.)
History of Sexuality
http://www.lesleyahall.net/webdoc3.htm (Links to an external site.)
http://utpress.utexas.edu/index.php/journals/journal-of-the-history-of-sexuality (Links to an external site.)
Sexuality in history and different cultures
http://www.sacred-texts.com/sex/index.htm

Study Guide / Important Questions
Making Connections
Study Guide / Important Questions
Making Connections
PDF
Resources
Quiz

This unit focuses on the paid and unpaid work that women perform inside and outside the home. Alongside a discussion of women’s unpaid household labor, it addresses contemporary patterns of women’s paid work, including changing patterns of women’s participation, the dual labor market and the changing economy, and salary figures. These sections focus on issues of horizontal and vertical segregation and answer the question why, after legal changes to address “equal pay for equal work,” women on average still earn less than men.

Key concepts: labor force, women workers, economic system, global economy, globalization, multinational corporations, paid and unpaid labor, domestic work, gender division of household labor, comparable worth, horizontal and vertical segregation, occupational segregation by gender, primary labor market, secondary labor market, glass ceiling, glass escalator, glass precipice, sexual harassment (quid pro quo and hostile work environment), double day of work, second shift, “pink collar.”

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Study Guide / Important Questions

  1. Why do women in the world tend to work longer hours than men? What is the relationship between expectations of gender, women’s domestic labor, and the kinds of work women tend to do in the labor force?
  2. What are the major research findings associated with women and domestic work? What proportion of household labor, on the average, do women perform? What are the consequences for women when they marry in terms of domestic work? How do figures on the distribution of household labor by gender vary across cultures?
  3. What does the term “help” imply in terms of housework? What does “multi-tasking” mean and who tends to do it better? Why? What is “kin keeping”?
  4. How did industrialization affect women’s labor? What was the “cult of true womanhood”? When did women start to enter college and what was the first women’s college founded?
  5. What are the legislative gains for women and employment between the early 1960s and through the twentieth century?
  6. Discuss the different kinds of sexual harassment and the statistics on its occurrence.
  7. What is affirmative action and how does it work?
  8. In broad terms, how does capitalism work as an economic system? What is the dual labor market and how does it function? Discuss features associated with the changing nature of the U.S. economy.
  9. What kinds of work do women tend to perform outside the home? Define horizontal and vertical segregation and articulate how it functions. Give examples of each. What does “pink collar” mean?
  10. Explain what is meant by the glass ceiling, glass escalator, and glass precipice, and be able to give examples of each. How does unionization affect women’s work?
  11. How much do women earn compared to men? How does this vary by race? What is comparable worth?

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Making Connections

  1. What kinds of jobs have you held? What kinds of jobs have women in your family held? How do these jobs compare to the trends on horizontal and vertical segregation?
  2. Who tends to do the housework in your family? Is there a gender division of labor? Explain the rationale for the gender division of household labor in your family.

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This chapter focuses on the ways culture and artistic forms, both traditional and popular, reflect, maintain, and resist gender and systems of inequality and privilege. These cultural forms provide narratives through and against which individuals live their lives and frame meanings and messages about who we are, how we should live, and how society should be organized. Popular and literary culture, including virtual technologies, are “meaning making” and inform priorities, expectations, and necessities, creating contemporary myths that shape both society and people’s everyday lives in the U.S. and around the world. In addition, cultural forms perpetuate huge multi-million dollar industries that maintain the corporate control of contemporary U.S. society.

Key concepts: culture, popular culture, literature and the arts, music, print media, pornography, Internet, virtual technologies, Zines, global media, video games, television, movies, music videos and MTV, systems of inequality and privilege, violence against women, misogyny.

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Study Guide / Important Questions

  1. What forms do “culture”—in the way this chapter describes it—take? How do these forms influence our everyday lives? How are media and popular and artistic culture influenced by and through systems of inequality and privilege?
  2. Why and how is the Internet and its technologies so influential? Who is using it?
  3. Explain the 2 ways the Internet reinforces current standards about gender and other identities. Is the Inernet increasing or minimizing the gap between the “haves” and the “have-nots”? Explain also how it can provide opportunities, giving examples.
  4. Why is television one of the most influential forms of media? Be able to give examples of the ways television both supports and resists systems of inequality and privilege. How does reality television play a role in this process?
  5. What is meant by the “male gaze”? Be able to give examples from different genres of popular movies of the ways traditional gender relations are both supported and resisted. How does Disney fit here?
  6. Discuss critiques of the traditional film gaze through transnational film efforts. Other critiques?
  7. Overview women’s role in the music industry. Where are the challenges and opportunities, giving examples of popular female musical artists.
  8. MTV is a clever blending of what? Was/is it helpful for women’s careers?
  9. Discuss the 3 different kinds of women’s magazines and explain how they maintain sexism.
  10. Why have there been so few women artists creating literature? Be able to name at least 3 contemporary feminist writers, playwrights, or poets.
  11. Why have women tended to create “crafts” rather than art? Be able to name at least 3 famous women artists, broadly defined.
  12. What musical instruments have women traditionally been prevented or dissuaded from playing? Be able to name at least 3 famous women musicians of past or present.

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Making Connections

  1. What are your favorite forms of popular culture and why? Discuss the ways your favorite forms maintain and/or resist systems of inequality and privilege.
  2. In your opinion, what does the general public seem to enjoy and what does this reveal? Have students interview someone outside the class about her/his tastes in popular culture. What do they learn?
  3. Watch a realty television show with conscious feminist eyes. What is your analysis (whether you consider yourself a feminist or not, the assignment asks you to use a feminist analysis).
  4. How has the Internet affected your life? What have been its positive and/or negative consequences in your everyday life?
  5. How is cell phone technology changing your life?
  6. Research the topic of women composers or conductors and analyze the gendered nature of these genres.

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PDF

Click here to view the link for Module 4 -Women Work and the Family PDF

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Resources

U.S. DOL – Women’s Bureau Home Page (Links to an external site.)
Facts About Sexual Harassment (Links to an external site.)
Women’s Net (Links to an external site.)
The Society for the Scientific Study of Sexuality

Study Guide / Important Questions
Making Connections
Study Guide / Important Questions
Making Connections
PDF/POWER POINT
Resources

This module focuses on the issue of violence against women and the ways women can resist that violence. It analyzes the political context out of which violence occurs, centering on male domination, misogyny, and other systems of inequality and privilege in women’s everyday lives. The chapter includes discussion of violence against women as systemic in patriarchal societies worldwide and focuses on rape, battering and physical abuse, stalking, incest, molestation, and pornography.

Key concepts: violence against women, sexual terrorism, rape, sexual assault, sexual abuse, sexual harassment, stalking, rape spectrum, sexism and other systems of inequality and privilege, misogyny, patriarchy, battering, physical abuse, incest, global trafficking in women, militarism, women and war, Internet, cybersex, forced prostitution, pornography, survivor, men who abuse women.

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Study Guide / Important Questions

  1. Be able to summarize the current rates of violence against women in society.
  2. What document gave voice to the prevalence of violence against women worldwide in 1995? What other global initiatives have responded to the problem of gendered violence? Explain how global capitalism and militarism are connected to the abuse and exploitation of women and children at home and abroad.
  3. When did the U.S. Violence Against Women Act pass? What are its goals?
  4. What are the 4 key points discussed in the chapter that provide the framework for understanding misogynous violence? Explain the meaning and context associated with the discussion of “backlash.”
  5. How is the story about the woman who is stalked and beaten illustrative of normative gender—both masculinity and femininity?
  6. Understand the terms rape, sexual assault, sexual harassment, molestation, and incest. Define rape spectrum and sexual terrorism. What are the costs (emotional, physical, financial) of violence against women?
  7. What kinds of rapes occur more frequently? Which ones are most likely to be reported? What is altruistic and compliant sex? Summarize rape statistics.
  8. What legislation has passed to address violence against college women? Name the “date rape” drugs and explain how they work and how women can try to protect themselves. What is the relationship between rape and alcohol? What aspect of college life tends to provide the greatest risk for women?
  9. When males are abused, who are they most likely to be hurt by and during what period of their lives are they most vulnerable? How does prison rape illustrate gender hierarchies?
  10. Discuss marital rape, the categorization of this crime, and how the courts have responded.
  11. What are the issues and trends on race and rape?
  12. Discuss the 3 rape myths described in the text. What psychological differences distinguish rapists from other men?
  13. Why do men batter or physically abuse women? Summarize battering statistics.
  14. What are the reasons why women might stay in an abusive relationship?
  15. Why do some scholars and clinicians object to the term “family violence” or “domestic violence”?
  16. What are the rates of incest for girls and boy? Discuss the difference between direct and indirect forms of incest. What are some of the consequences for incest survivors in their adult lives? Why are boys/men less likely to report or talk about their experiences of incest?
  17. What does it mean to say pornography “eroticizes unequal power relations between women and men”?

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Making Connections

  1. What are the policies and procedures about violence against women on your campus?

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This section revisits the promises of feminist education and discusses how feminist practices may improve the quality of women’s lives. It addresses contemporary life in the U.S., discusses activism and the way individuals, groups, and communities can work to effect change, and explores issues associated with feminist activism. This chapter addresses feminist visions, overviews social trends that have implications for the future, and explores what it might mean to live with feminist-inspired integrity.

Key concepts: Feminism, activism, politics of knowledge, future trends, backlash, coalitions, multiissue, multistrategic, reform, transformation, global issues, globalization, integrity, priorities, economic vs. political democracies, liberation, sustainability, capitalism, consumerism, environmental justice, pollution, peace, justice-based politics.

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Study Guide / Important Questions

  1. Revisit the promises of feminist education. What are its goals and missions? What is meant by counter-hegemonic education?
  2. What does it mean to say that all knowledge is associated with power? Explain in your own words what it means to say feminist knowledge is no more biased politically than any other form of knowledge, just more explicit in its bias? What do “objectivity” and “value-neutrality” mean?
  3. What kind of disparities and economic inequalities exist in U.S. society? What do the terms multiissue and multistrategy mean in terms of activism? What kinds of different activist strategies are associates with liberal as opposed to radical feminist activism?
  4. What does “status quo” mean?
  5. Why does simply increasing women’s participation and leadership not necessarily imply a more egalitarian future?
  6. What important global women’s activism occurred in 1995? Why must the global always be a part of feminist activism? What post-Beijing follow-up has occurred? What is CEDAW?
  7. Discuss social trends in terms of changing future populations and their consequences.
  8. Explain the two-part definition of integrity. What are the 7 themes suggested for a future with a feminist-inspired integrity?

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Making Connections

  1. Analyze your academic major in terms of the politics of knowledge.
  2. Revisit the objectives of your course. Which one(s) was/were most difficult to study and integrate? Why?
  3. Of all the suggestions for a feminist-inspired integrity, which one are you most interested in or passionate about?

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Power Point

Click here to view the link for Module 5 – Activism PDF

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