WGS 100-01:  Race, class, and sexuality in U.S. feminisms (Same as AMST 194-07)

Spring 2005

Professor Joan Ostrove

325 Olin-Rice





Office hours:

            Wednesdays, 1-2:45 p.m., or by appointment


Class description:


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 social change.


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 the future. 


Class requirements:


It 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.


In addition to preparation and participation, the class has the following requirements:


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%

Intersectionality/social change project: 35%



Anzaldúa, Gloria (1990).  Making face, making soul/Hacienda caras, una entrada:  Creative and critical perspectives by feminists of color.  San Francisco:  Aunt 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!




Week 1  What is WGS?  What is feminism?

Tues, 1/25

  • Introduction to the course and each other


Thurs, 1/27 

  • hooks, bell. (2000). Feminism is for everybody


Week 2  Difference and diversity, Oppression and privilege

Tues, 2/1

  • FF pp. 4-24

-Oppression, Marilyn Frye

-Distinctions in Western Women's Experience: Ethnicity, Class, and Social Change, Rosalinda Mendez Gonzalez

- 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


Thurs, 2/3

  • Schact, Steven.  Teaching about being an oppressor (FF pp. 24-29)
  • Pharr, Suzanne. (2004). Homophobia as a weapon of sexism.  In Rothenberg (Ed.) Race, class, and gender in the United States (pp. 178-187).  NY:  Worth.  (H)
  • Yamato, 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)
  • Zamora, Bernice.  Notes from a Chicana “Coed” (MFMS pp. 131-132)


Week 3 Social Construction and Identity/ies

Tues, 2/8

  • FF pp. 30-66

- "Night To His Day": The Social Construction of Gender, Judith Lorber

- The Medical Construction of Gender, Suzanne Kessler


Response paper #2 due


Thurs, 2/10

  • Kleinman, Sherryl. Why I’m not a lady (and no woman is) (FF, p. 94)
  • Mirikitani, Janice. Suicide note (MFMS, pp. 75-76)
  • Jaramillo, Canéla.  Postscript (MFMS, pp. 77-79)
  • Tajima Creef, Elana.  Notes from a fragmented daughter (MFMS, pp. 82-84)
  • Yamada, Mitsuye.  Masks of woman (MFMS, pp. 114-116)
  • Chan, Sucheng.  You’re short, besides! (MFMS, pp. 162-168)
  • Gomez, Jewelle.  I lost it at the movies (MFMS, pp. 203-206)


v     set up intersectionality/social change project pairs today


Week 4  Intersectionality and Multiple Identities

Tues, 2/15

  • Hill Collins, Patricia.  Some group matters:  Intersectionality, 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… coincidence?


Thurs, 2/17

  • Garland-Thomson, Rosemarie. (2002).  Integrating disability, transforming feminist theory.  NWSA Journal, 14, 1-32. (H)




Week 5 Growing up:  Socialization (and its discontents?!)

Tues, 2/22

  • FF pp. 142-180

- "The 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

- Ideology, Experience, Identity: The Complex Worlds of Children in Fair Families, Barbara Risman


Essay #1 due


Thurs, 2/24

  • Wong, 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. 207-211)
  • Quan, Kit Yuen.  The girl who wouldn’t sing (MFMS, pp. 212-220)
  • Galloway, 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)
  • Khan, 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 image

·        Richards, A. (2004).  Body image:  Third wave feminism’s issue?  In Shaw & Lee (Eds).  Women’s voices, feminist visions (pp. 220-221).  Boston:  McGraw Hill.  (H)

·        Omosupe, Ekua. In magazines (I found specimens of the beautiful) (MFMS, p. 169)

·        FF pp. 94-118

-Cosmetic Surgery: Paying for Your Beauty, Debra L. Gimlin  (continued)

-BOXED INSERT: Myth of the Perfect Body, Roberta Galler

-Hair Still Matters, Ingrid Banks

·        For today, 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
  • Jacobson, J. (2004).  The loneliest athletes.  In Rothenberg (Ed.) Race, class, and gender in the United States (pp. 248-250).  NY:  Worth. (H)
  • Sabo, D. (2004).  Pigskin, patriarchy, and pain.  In Rothenberg (Ed.) Race, class, and gender in the United States (pp. 377-380).  NY:  Worth. (H)


Intersectionality/Social 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 African-American, Latina, and White Women, Becky Wangsgaard Thompson
  • Hesse-Biber, S. (2004).  Am I thin enough yet? In Rothenberg (Ed.) Race, class, and gender in the United States (pp. 532-539).  NY:  Worth. (H)


Response paper #4 due


Thurs, 3/10 
·        Gossett, Hattie (1991). Fat & 40.  Forward Motion, vol 10, no. 2. (H)
·        Newman, Lesléa (1986).  One Spring.  In Good Enough to Eat (H)
·        BOXED INSERT: Globalization of Beauty Makes Slimness Trendy, Norimitsu Onishi (FF, pp. 468-470)
·        Arnold, 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)
·        Haubegger, Christy (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

  • Reproductive Laws, Women of Color, and Low Income Women, Laurie Nsiah-Jefferson (FF, 363-370)
  • Saxton, 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

Intersectionality/Social Change project Part 2 (agents of feminist social change) due by 5 p.m. today




Week 9 Violence against women

Tues, 3/29

  • FF pp. 387-414

-Fraternities and Rape on Campus, Patricia Yancey Martin and Robert A. Hummer

-BOXED INSERT: Men Changing Men, Robert L. Allen and Paul Kivel

-Supremacy Crimes, Gloria Steinem

-Mapping the Margins: Intersectionality, Identity Politics, and Violence Against Women of Color, Kimberle Crenshaw


Response paper #5 due


Thurs, 3/31

  • Marín, Lynda. Her rites of passage (MFMS, pp. 183-190)
  • Cobb, Nora. Sessions (MFMS, pp. 120-123)
  • Salaam, 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 sex/gender/sexuality 

Tues, 4/5

  • Finding 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. 321-325)
  • 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 York:  Seal Press. (H)
  • Stewart, 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)


Thurs, 4/7

  • In Hiding and On Display, Susan Bordo (FF, pp. 306-312)
  • Selling Hot Pussy, bell hooks (FF, pp. 119-127) (continued)
  • Ideological Racism and Cultural Resistance, Yen Le Espiritu (FF, pp. 128-141)


Response paper #6 due (note that this is due on a THURSDAY this week!)


Week 11 Work and family

Tues, 4/12

  • FF pp. 200-246

-Sex Segregation in the U.S. Labor Force, Christine E. Bose and Rachel Bridges Whaley

-Moving Up and Taking Charge, Barbara Reskin and Irene Padovic

-BOXED INSERT: The Realities of Affirmative Action in Employment (excerpt), Barbara Reskin

-Maid in L.A., Pierrette Honagneu-Sotelo


Thurs, 4/14

  • FF pp. 247-299

-Working to Place Family at the Center of Life: Dual-Earner and Single-Parent Strategies, Rosanna Hertz

-BOXED INSERT: The Mommy Test, Barbara Ehrenreich

-Working at 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

-Wedding Bells and Baby Carriages: Heterosexuals Imagine Gay Families, Gay Families Imagine Themselves, Suzanna Danuta Walters

-BOXED INSERT: A Member of the Funeral, Nancy Naples




Week 12 Where we’ve been and where we’re going

Tues, 4/19

  • The Women's Movement: Persistence through Transformation, Verta Taylor, Nancy Whittier, and Cynthia Fabrizio Pelak (FF, pp. 515-531)


Essay #3 due


Thurs, 4/21

  • [Angelina Grimke Weld, The rights of women and negroes (1863) (H)]
  • http://etext.lib.virginia.edu/railton/uncletom/womanmov.html
  • Redstockings “Manifesto” (1969) (H)  http://kbs.mahost.org/gp/dotfredstockings.html
  • Sandoval, Chela. Feminism and racism:  A report on the 1981 National Women’s Studies Association Conference (MFMS, pp. 55-71)
  • introduction to Third Wave Agenda (H)  http://www.alternet.org/story/9986


Week 13 Resistance and activism

Tues, 4/26

  • Surviving the Welfare System: How AFDC Recipients Make Ends Meet in Chicago, Kathryn Edin (FF, 434-444) (continued)
  • Harjo, Joy. I give you back (MFMS, 151-152)
  • Anderson, Siu Wai. A letter to my daughter (MFMS, 156-158)
  • Waters, Anne. Journeys of the mind (MFMS, 159-161)


Response paper #7 due


Thurs, 4/28

  • Resistance and activism project reports:  in class presentations


Week 14 Resistance and activism, continued


Tues, 5/3

  • Punks, Bulldaggers, and Welfare Queens: the Radical Potential of Queer Politics? Cathy J. Cohen (FF, pp. 495-511)
  • BOXED INSERT: Linking Arms and Movements, Urvashi Vaid (FF, pp. 531-532)
  • Feinberg, 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


Intersectionality/social change project report due Monday, May 9th, no later than 12 p.m. (noon)

Course policies:

·         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 necessarily strength!

·         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.


Grading guidelines:

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 misunderstood. 

·         “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.