Title: GSWS 002: Gender and Society (fulfills Society Sector requirement)
Time: Tuesdays and Thursdays 3-4:20 p.m.
Instructor: Dr. Shannon Lundeen
This course examines the impact of sex and gender roles on contemporary American society. Differentiation by sex is the central organizing principle of nearly every human society. How can we understand the relationship between biological sex and socially constructed gender? How do maleness and femaleness affect the balance of power and resources in our society? How much has changed since the beginning of the Women’s Movement of the 1960s? The course will examine key issues of gender difference and inequality including family life, paid work, economic status, violence, body image, sexuality, and reproduction. The course will examine men’s roles and women’s roles, treating gender as an interactive and dynamic concept.
In this course we will explore the following sets of questions:
1. What does gender have to do with society? In what ways are social practices and institutions organized around gender and/or sexual difference?
2. What is the difference between sex and gender? In what ways might a distinction between sex and gender be important or useful?
3. Is gender identity a product of the social practices and institutions that surround us and/or a product of biological factors? How should gender identity be defined, understood, and used?
4. How are gender, sex, and sexual orientation connected? Is their connection(s) culturally and historically specific and/or is their connection determined primarily by biology and genetics? Does their connection(s) have particular social and/or scientific ramifications?
5. What is, or should be, the relationship between gender, sex, or sexuality AND race, class, or age? How do our identities and bodies become shaped by the relationship between these categories?
6. How do we internalize representations of gender, sex, and sexuality as they are portrayed in popular media and what are the consequences of such internalizations? Should we/can we resist representations of men and women in the media that we find harmful? How so?
7. How do current global political and economic dynamics condition the experience of being a man or being a woman? How might certain domestic and/or international policies and practices alter or challenge what it means to be a “man” or a “woman,” to be “masculine” or “feminine” in a given culture or community?