WGS 100-01: Race, class, and sexuality in U.S. feminisms
(Same as AMST 194-07)
Professor Joan Ostrove
1-2:45 p.m., or by appointment
Welcome to Women’s and Gender Studies! I expect that this will be an exciting and
challenging – and probably sometimes infuriating – semester in which we will
explore together some of the key concepts, issues, and activism associated with
contemporary feminisms in the U.S. The course is organized into three broad
sections. The first, Frameworks, will introduce you to some
theoretical paradigms that different feminist scholars use to understand and
analyze gender and the ways in which it intersects with race, class, sexuality,
religion, and disability. We will study
the ways in which all systems of social organization and oppression interact
with one another, and the ways in which all of us occupy multiple places in
these various systems at the same time.
This section (and all of the sections) will also include the voices and
stories of “real people” to provide you with some concrete applications and translations
of the theoretical concepts. The second
section, Consequences, highlights
the implications of the intersections of oppressive social systems we learned
about in the first section. Finally, in
the section on History, Resistance, and
Activism, we will learn about the history of various movements for women’s
liberation and about the ways in which women, men, and transgendered
individuals resist oppressive messages and social structures and organize for
There are more readings on the syllabus than we will be able
to discuss in depth during class time; all of the readings provide you with
important conceptual and/or personal frameworks with which to understand and
analyze a particular set of topics relevant to women’s and gender studies. On some days, we will talk quite directly
about what you’ve read; on other days, there will only be vague references to
the readings though they will inform – directly or indirectly – the issues of
the day. I expect that you will have
done the readings before you get to class, even though we may not always talk
about them explicitly. Finally, as with
most courses, there are many more important and exciting issues to cover and
think about than are represented in this syllabus. I hope you will be inspired to do additional
reading and thinking outside of class; perhaps you will take related classes in
is your primary responsibility to come to class prepared, having read and
thought about the readings for the day.
Although there are a lot of people in the room, the nature of the course
requires that you engage with the material, with each other, and with me in
ways that will challenge you. I will,
therefore, expect that each of you will be active participants in the
classroom. Participation, however, may
mean a lot of different things; it can mean: sharing your ideas and thoughts;
listening well to others’ ideas; asking questions; connecting the course
material to issues in your life or the lives of other people you know, and/or
to issues on campus and in the world, etc.
addition to preparation and participation, the class has the following
Response papers: Over the course of the semester, you will
write eight response papers to the readings.
Response papers are expected to be about 2 pages (typed, double-spaced)
and are a chance for you to react on paper to any or all of the readings for
the day. You may respond primarily to
the ideas in one reading, or you may comment on more than one reading and draw
connections among them. You may provide
a personal reaction to the readings, in which you relate some of the concepts
or ideas from the reading to your own experience. This does not have to be a formal essay
(though your responses should be clearly written and should not contain typos
or grammatical errors).
Essays: You will write three essays this semester,
each of which will be an analysis of a topic using the readings for a
particular section of the course. Essay
assignments will be handed out 7-10 days before they are due.
Intersectionality/social change project: This
project will be described more fully later in the semester. You will be working with one other person in
the class to develop a project focused on a person or an organization that is
committed to feminist social change.
Class participation: 10%
Response papers: 10%
Essays: (15% each) 45%
change project: 35%
Anzaldúa, Gloria (1990).
Making face, making soul/Hacienda caras, una
Creative and critical perspectives by feminists of color. San
Lute Press. (MFMS)
hooks, bell (2000). Feminism is for everybody: Passionate politics. Cambridge,
MA: South End Press.
Richardson, Laurel; Taylor, Verta; Whittier, Nancy
(2004). Feminist frontiers (6th
Edition). New York:
McGraw Hill. (FF)
Additional readings will be available as handouts (H)
Please note: Readings are listed on the
day they are to be discussed in class.
You must, therefore, read the assignments listed for a particular day before coming to class on that day!
What is WGS?
What is feminism?
to the course and each other
- hooks, bell. (2000). Feminism is for everybody
Difference and diversity, Oppression and privilege
Western Women's Experience: Ethnicity, Class, and Social Change, Rosalinda
- Where I Come
From Is Like This, Paula Gunn Allen
-The Master's Tools
Will Never Dismantle the Master's House, Audre Lorde
Response paper #1 due
- Schact, Steven.
Teaching about being an oppressor (FF pp. 24-29)
Suzanne. (2004). Homophobia as a weapon of sexism. In Rothenberg (Ed.) Race, class, and gender in the United States (pp.
178-187). NY: Worth.
Gloria. Something about the subject makes it hard to name (MFMS pp. 20-24)
- Tijerina, Aletícia. Notes on oppression and violence (MFMS, pp. 170-173)
Bernice. Notes from a Chicana “Coed” (MFMS
Week 3 Social Construction and Identity/ies
- "Night To His Day": The Social Construction of Gender, Judith Lorber
- The Medical
Construction of Gender, Suzanne Kessler
Response paper #2 due
- Kleinman, Sherryl. Why I’m
not a lady (and no woman is) (FF,
- Mirikitani, Janice. Suicide note (MFMS, pp. 75-76)
Postscript (MFMS, pp.
Creef, Elana. Notes from a fragmented daughter (MFMS, pp. 82-84)
Masks of woman (MFMS,
You’re short, besides! (MFMS,
I lost it at the movies (MFMS,
set up intersectionality/social
change project pairs today
Intersectionality and Multiple Identities
Collins, Patricia. Some group
situated standpoints, and Black Feminist thought (FF, pp. 66-84)
- Minh-ha, Trinh T. Not you/Like you: Post-colonial women and the interlocking
questions of identity and difference (MFMS,
pp. 371-375) (continued)
- note that Alice Walker’s definition of “womanist” appears right next to both of the above
readings, in both of your books…
Read the definition and consider its placement in both texts…
Rosemarie. (2002). Integrating
disability, transforming feminist theory.
NWSA Journal, 14, 1-32. (H)
PART II: CONSEQUENCES
Week 5 Growing up:
Socialization (and its discontents?!)
Means to Put My Children Through": Child-Rearing Goals and Strategies
among Black Female Domestic Servants, Bonnie Thornton Dill
- Girls and Boys
Together...But Mostly Apart: Gender Arrangements in Elementary Schools, Barrie Thorne
- What Are
Little Boys Made Of? Michael Kimmel
Experience, Identity: The Complex Worlds of Children in Fair Families, Barbara Risman
Essay #1 due
Nellie. (1983). When I was growing
up. In Moraga & Anzaldua
(Eds). This bridge called my back: Writings by radical women of color (pp.
7-8). Watertown, MA: Persephone Press. (H)
- hooks, bell.
Talking back (MFMS, pp.
- Quan, Kit Yuen.
The girl who wouldn’t sing (MFMS,
Terri. (1987). I’m listening as
hard as I can. In Saxton & Howe
(Eds.). With wings: An anthology of
literature by and about women with disabilities (pp. 5-9). NY:
The Feminist Press. (H)
S. A. (2004). The All-American
Queer Pakistani Girl. In Kirk &
Okasawa-Rey (Eds.) Women’s lives: Multicultural perspectives
(pp. 162-163). Boston:
McGraw Hill. (H)
- Kadi, Joanna. (1996).
Catholic school days (Sketches One, Two, and Three). In
Thinking class: Sketches from a
cultural worker (pp. 33-37; 63-67; 109-112). Boston: South End Press. (H)
Week 6 Bodies and minds…
Tues, 3/1 Body
(2004). Body image: Third wave feminism’s issue? In Shaw & Lee (Eds). Women’s voices, feminist visions (pp.
McGraw Hill. (H)
Omosupe, Ekua. In magazines (I found specimens of the beautiful) (MFMS, p. 169)
FF pp. 94-118
Surgery: Paying for Your Beauty, Debra L. Gimlin (continued)
Myth of the Perfect Body, Roberta Galler
Matters, Ingrid Banks
please also watch one episode of any of the following TV shows:
o “Extreme Makeover”
o “The Swan”
o “The Biggest Loser”
Response paper #3 due
Thurs, 3/3 Athletics and sports
- FF (pp. 372-386) The Muslim Female
Heroic: Shorts or Veils, Jennifer Hargreaves
J. (2004). The loneliest athletes. In Rothenberg (Ed.) Race, class, and gender in the United States (pp.
248-250). NY: Worth. (H)
D. (2004). Pigskin, patriarchy, and
pain. In Rothenberg (Ed.) Race, class, and gender in the United States
(pp. 377-380). NY: Worth. (H)
Change project Part 1 (Introducing ourselves) due by 5 p.m. today
Week 7 Bodies
and minds, continued
Tues, 3/8 Food, body size, and eating disorders
- FF (pp. 353-363) "A Way Outa No
Way": Eating Problems among
and White Women, Becky Wangsgaard Thompson
- Hesse-Biber, S. (2004). Am I thin enough yet? In Rothenberg
(Ed.) Race, class, and gender in the
(pp. 532-539). NY: Worth. (H)
Response paper #4 due
(1991). Fat & 40.
Forward Motion, vol 10, no. 2. (H)
Newman, Lesléa (1986). One Spring. In Good Enough to Eat (H)
Globalization of Beauty Makes Slimness Trendy, Norimitsu
Onishi (FF, pp. 468-470)
Georgiana (1990). Coming
home: One black woman’s journey to
health and fitness. In Evelyn
White (Ed.) The black women’s health book (pp.
269-277). Seattle, WA: Seal Press. (H)
(2004). I’m not fat, I’m Latina. In Disch (Ed.) Reconstructing gender: A multicultural anthology (pp. 202-203). Boston: McGraw Hill.
Week 8 Bodies and minds, continued
Tues, 3/15 Raging hormones?
FF (pp. 334-347) Hormonal Hurricanes: Menstruation,
Menopause, and Female Behavior, Anne Fausto-Sterling
- FF (pp. 347-348) BOXED INSERT: If
Men Could Menstruate, Gloria Steinem
Thurs, 3/17 Reproduction
and reproductive rights
Laws, Women of Color, and Low Income Women, Laurie Nsiah-Jefferson
Marsha. (2004). Reproductive
rights: A disability rights issue.
In Kirk & Okasawa-Rey (Eds.) Women’s lives: Multicultural
perspectives (pp. 190-194). Boston: McGraw Hill. (H)
Essay #2 due
Change project Part 2 (agents of feminist social change) due by 5 p.m. today
Week 9 Violence against women
and Rape on Campus, Patricia Yancey Martin and Robert A. Hummer
Men Changing Men, Robert L. Allen and Paul Kivel
Crimes, Gloria Steinem
-Mapping the Margins:
Intersectionality, Identity Politics, and Violence Against Women of Color, Kimberle
Response paper #5 due
- Marín, Lynda. Her rites of passage (MFMS, pp. 183-190)
Nora. Sessions (MFMS, pp.
Kiini Ibura. (2002).
How sexual harassment slaughtered, then saved
me. In Daisy Hernandez & Bushra Rehman (Eds). Colonize this! Young women of color on today’s feminism
(pp. 326-342). New York: Seal Press. (H)
Week 10 Sex, sexuality, and the representation of
the Lesbians in Lesbian History, Leila J. Rupp (FF, pp. 302-306)
- Lorde, Audre. I Am Your
Sister: Black Women Organizing
across Sexualities (MFMS, pp.
- Im, Soyon (2002). Love clinic. In Daisy Hernandez & Bushra Rehman (Eds). Colonize this! Young women of color on todayu’s feminism (pp. 133-141). New
Seal Press. (H)
Jean (1987). excerpt from The Body’s Memory. In
Marsha Saxton & Florence
Howe (Eds.) With wings: An anthology of
literature by and about women with disabilities (pp. 129-136). NY:
The Feminist Press. (H)
Hiding and On Display, Susan Bordo (FF, pp. 306-312)
Hot Pussy, bell hooks (FF, pp.
Racism and Cultural Resistance, Yen Le Espiritu
(FF, pp. 128-141)
Response paper #6 due (note that this is due on a THURSDAY
Week 11 Work and family
in the U.S.
Labor Force, Christine E. Bose and Rachel Bridges Whaley
-Moving Up and
Taking Charge, Barbara Reskin and Irene Padovic
The Realities of Affirmative Action in Employment (excerpt), Barbara Reskin
-Maid in L.A., Pierrette
Place Family at the Center
of Life: Dual-Earner and
Single-Parent Strategies, Rosanna Hertz
The Mommy Test, Barbara Ehrenreich
Motherhood: Chicana and Mexicana
Immigrant Mothers and Employment, Denise A. Segura
-For Better or
Worse: Gender Allures in the Vietnamese Global Marriage Market, Hung Cam Thai
and Baby Carriages: Heterosexuals Imagine Gay Families, Gay Families Imagine
Themselves, Suzanna Danuta
-BOXED INSERT: A
Member of the Funeral, Nancy Naples
PART III: HISTORY, RESISTANCE, ACTIVISM
Week 12 Where we’ve been and where we’re going
Women's Movement: Persistence through Transformation, Verta
Taylor, Nancy Whittier, and Cynthia Fabrizio Pelak (FF,
Essay #3 due
Grimke Weld, The rights of women and negroes
- Redstockings “Manifesto” (1969) (H)
Chela. Feminism and racism: A report on the 1981 National Women’s
Studies Association Conference (MFMS,
to Third Wave Agenda (H)
Week 13 Resistance and activism
the Welfare System: How AFDC Recipients Make Ends Meet in Chicago, Kathryn
- Harjo, Joy. I give you back (MFMS, 151-152)
Siu Wai. A letter to
my daughter (MFMS, 156-158)
Anne. Journeys of the mind (MFMS,
Response paper #7 due
and activism project reports: in
Week 14 Resistance and activism, continued
Bulldaggers, and Welfare Queens:
the Radical Potential of Queer Politics? Cathy J. Cohen (FF, pp. 495-511)
INSERT: Linking Arms and Movements, Urvashi Vaid (FF,
Leslie (2004). We are all works in
progress. In Kirk & Okasawa-Rey (Eds.) Women’s
lives: Multicultural perspectives (pp. 164-168). Boston: McGraw Hill.
Response paper #8 due
change project report due Monday, May 9th, no later than 12 p.m.
Academic integrity: I expect all of you to follow
the college’s guidelines regarding academic integrity, outlined in the Student
Handbook. Please talk to me if you are
not clear how these guidelines apply to the course. I will report any suspicion of academic
dishonesty to the Dean of Academic Programs.
Academic dishonesty will result in at least a failing grade on the
assignment, and a second instance of dishonesty will usually result in a
failing grade in the course.
Late work: You may not receive extensions
on work in the class, except in the most extraordinary circumstances (in which
case you will need documentation from the Dean of Students Office or Health
Services). Work that is turned in late
for any other reason will have a third of a grade taken off for each day that
it is late (e.g., a B+ would become a B if you hand in an essay or your final
paper any time after the exact time that it is due – the “day late” begins
immediately after the time the assignment is due).
Incompletes: I will only grant incompletes
under extraordinary circumstances that occur in the second part of the
semester. This will not include being
really busy at the end of the semester.
Written assignments: Please type,
double-spaced with 12-point font, all of your written assignments for this
course. Please do not use margins that
are larger than 1 inch – all around.
Don’t use smaller margins, or smaller font, either – length is not
Accommodations for students with disabilities: I will provide any reasonable accommodation
for students with disabilities that will assist in making this course
accessible and will provide an optimal educational experience for everyone. I
will expect to receive documentation from the office for students with
disabilities about the kinds of accommodations that you require. Please speak to me at the beginning of the semester
so that we can make an effective plan.
Below are the guidelines I follow when assigning grades to
essays. I use plusses and minuses when
the work falls in between the qualities associated with each letter grade. Grades are based both on content and on
writing style. I encourage you to ask
for help from me, the MAX
Center, or any other
reasonable source if you’d like assistance with writing. Please acknowledge resources you use in a
footnote to your paper.
- “A” grades are assigned to outstanding papers. These papers reflect a deep engagement
with ideas, insightful analysis, and excellent mastery of the material
from the course. Argumentation is
logical and coherent, as well as well-documented. The paper addresses all aspects of the
assignment fully and clearly. Finally,
these “A” papers are well-written with respect to style and grammar.
- “B” grades are assigned to papers that demonstrate good
understanding of the material, are coherently written, and that contain
some insightful ideas. Sometimes
“B” papers contain some really good ideas, but do not put things together
as elegantly as they could. Other
times all of the aspects of the assignment are there, but the ideas are
not particularly innovative.
- “C” grades are given to papers that do not adequately cover the assignment,
demonstrate that the material was not fully understood, and/or have
problems with writing style.
Sometimes “C” papers have some really good parts, mixed in with
some parts that seem like they were not well-thought out. Papers with consistent grammatical or
stylistic problems may receive a “C.”
- “D” grades are assigned to papers/essays that have serious
problems – parts of the assignment are totally missing or are really
incomplete, the writing is full of errors, the material was seriously
“NC” grades are hardly ever given if a student
has put even some work into the paper/essay.
However, if the content is totally irrelevant, or the writing is such
that it is simply impossible for me to follow the arguments, then I would
assign a failing grade.