Tuesday, March 18, 2008


Gender and Identity: Socy 302 Assessment
We will have two assessments in this section of the course. In order to write my exam you need to complete both assessments and achieve above 40% average.
1. essay (four to five typed pages)
Choose from one of the following topics:
Critically discuss the different viewpoints put forward on sexuality by the essentialist and social constructionist position.

Deconstruct the gendered concept `masculinity’. You may draw on referenced examples from the movie Thelma and Louise, as well as movie reviews to illustrate your answer.

Due date: 24th ‘April 2008 12 noon to the department administrator Niel 2. Group presentation and essay

You will write a short 4- 5 page essay on one of the feminist perspectives after you have worked in a group and delivered a group presentation. Part of your presentation requires you to give a one page handout to your class mates and to me. This is compulsory for assessment purposes. You must also use overheads or the board as they will need this information for the exam. Remember you are teaching them the theory you are researching, thus you need to do it thoroughly and present it well. If you bring me your summary TWO days before your presentation I will make copies for you, else it is your responsibility. You will be assessed on your presentation in terms of delivery and content.. Marks will be deducted if there are no handouts. Within contemporary theory there are a variety of feminist perspectives and a number of theorists within each one, namely liberal, radical, marxist and so on. Your task is to teach one feminist perspective to the class as well as write up a paper for assessment. I will allocate you into groups and give you a perspective to study and teach. This is what you need to do. Questions to include

Identify the main thesis of the perspective you are analysing. What are its key theoretical ideas. Start by understanding the key concepts such as equality or patriarchy or duality, public/private, class What are the strengths of this theory? How does it help you understand the world you live in today as a man or woman? What critique do authors offer? What do you think is the downfall of this theory (your idea based on your lived experience) Identify one or two main contributors to this perspective and detail their ideas.

Presentation guide Read the texts I have provided

  • Draw on at least 4 texts from the library in books or in journals such as Signs, Feminist Review Only one internet reference allowed
  • You need to draw on original material (i.e. written by the theorist you identify) as well as material written by other authors on this theorist.
  • Your presentation is a group one and is required to be on overheads or the board. Feel free to drawn on poems, art, movies etc. I am happy to provide you with overheads and a pen.
  • Your presentation counts for 15 marks (see below)
  • You need to develop a one page typed handout for each of your class mates to be given to them when you do your presentation.
  • Remember you are teaching them the theory you are researching, thus you need to do it thoroughly and present it well. You need this section for the exam.
  • You will be assessed on your presentation in terms of delivery and content.. Marks will be deducted if there are no handouts.
  • You paper is an individual effort and is required to be 4-5 typed pages, 12 point Times new Roman with a complete reference page.
  • Failure to reference and include a reference page will receive 0%
  • Assessment guide Group presentation 15 marks Introduction 5 marks Main argument 50 marks Conclusion 5 marks Reference in the essay 10 marks Reference page 10 marks Spelling, presentation 5 marks (please use a spell check) Total: 100 marks This is part of your course assessment and DP Group 1 & 2 Perspective - Liberal Feminism (choose two) Theorists - Mary Wollenstonecraft, John Stuart Mill, Harriet Taylor, Betty Friedan, Naomi Wolf Group 3 & 4 Perspective – Radical Feminism (choose two) Theorists – Shulasmith Firestone, Kate Millett, Mary Daly, Adrienne Rich, Andrea Dworkin, Catharine Mackinnon Group 5 & 6 Perspective – Marxist Feminism (must do all below) Theorists – Look at the origin in Engels, Simone De Beauvoir, Michele Barrett Group 7 & 8 Perspective – Socialist Feminism (do both) Theorists – Juliett Mitchell, Zillah Eisenstein Group 9 & 10 Perspective – Black Feminism/African Feminism (choose three) Theorists – bell hooks, Patricia Hill Collins, Angela Davis, Alice Walker

Due date: 15th May 2008 12 noon to the department administrator Niel

Essay writing tips

The writing of an academic essay is based on research. There are key steps that must be followed to present well structured and content rich essays. The following are important steps: Step one: planning Note the due date Plan when you will brainstorm your topic, go to the library, write your first draft, edit, rewrite and edit. Step two : understanding the topic Analyse the topic make sure you understand the essay question

(Paragraph rule One idea is explored per paragraph. The first sentence of the paragraph should tell the reader what the main point is. Then discuss this point using readings and your own thoughts. The last sentence of your paragraph refers to what is coming next. This is called a linking sentence)

Step three: researching the topic Write down all your own thoughts and ideas on the topic. Go to the library. Don’t rely on the internet Summarise and reference what ever you read Step four: summaries Look at the topic again and check if your summaries are directly related to the topic. Discard those that are not. Do you need more information? In what specific area? If so do the literature search again.

Step five: the essay plan Write an essay plan 8-10 points long. Begin with the introduction. Remember an essay contains an introduction, a body and a conclusion. Remember to use different paragraphs. Step six : writing Now begin to write your essay in a number of well organised paragraphs. Remember each paragraph should make sense on its own and should link to the next one. When you are drawing on the readings do not plagiarise. Reference any idea which is not your own. Do not overquote. Step seven: editing Read your essay and if possible get someone else to read it. Read it to see if it makes sense and then read it again to pick up spelling, grammatical and other errors. Edit and fix mistakes. Editing is very important. If anything does not make sense to you then redo that paragraph. Then read the whole essay again. Do not use sexist language, use `person’ instead of `man’, unless quoting directly. Sexist language is exclusionary. Do not use slang. Also write out words in full. E.g. `Do not’ instead of `don’t’. When using abbreviations write out the name in full, e.g. African national congress with ANC after in Brackets e.g. African National Congress (ANC). Thereafter you can use the abbreviated form only.

Step seven: presentation Type on 12 point Times new roman font Do not use pictures in the essay or on the cover page Do a cover page with all your details on as explained in workbook one Number your pages Staple your essay Make a copy for yourself. Hand in on time. A late penalty of 5% per day will be deducted


Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Course outline

Contemporary Sociology 302 Theory: Gender and Identity Lecturer: Vanessa-Lynn Neophytou

The focus of my theory course for the next seven and half weeks will be on gender and identity and what theory can tell us about this. We will begin by unpacking the concepts gender as it is often confused with the term sex. In fact, `sex’ and `gender’ are often used interchangeably when they have very different meanings.


Connell, R.W (2002) Gender Blackwell Publishing: Oxford Lϋtzen, K(1995) `La mise en discourse and Silences in Research on the History of Sexuality’ in Parker, R and J.Gagnon (eds) Conceiving Sexuality Routledge: New York Moore, H (1994 ) `The Cultural Constitution of Gender’ in The Polity Reader in Gender Studies Polity Press: Cambridge Skeggs, B (1997) Formations of Class and Gender: Becoming Respectable Sage Publications: Nottingham Week two: Mon 7th April-Thurs 10th April Foucault and Judith Butler From this starting point we will look at identity and power. Here I will concentrate on the ideas of Foucault and how he looks at power and knowledge. We will see that his notion of power is very different from the top down one of Marx. But Foucault wrote on sexuality and I want us to look at his original work where he traced how we became aware of ourselves as sexual beings. From this I want us to look at gender and identity even more closely through an examination of Judith Butlers’ work. She talks about identity as free-floating, as not connected to an 'essence', but instead more of a performance given to the world. We will explore what she means by performance and look at our performances, that is, yours and your friends around you. This means that we will see that identities aren't fixed, that power differences change in different situations, that your destiny and power and life are not determined by a few supposedly descriptive 'facts' about yourself such as gender, class, ethnicity, age and so on. readings

Butler, J (1990) Gender Trouble: Feminism and the subversion of identity Routledge: New York

Butler, J (1997) `Subjects of Sex/Gender/Desire’ in Feminisms Kemp, S and J. Squires (eds) Feminisms Oxford University Press: Oxford

McHoul, A and W. Grace (1993) A Foucault Primer: Discourse, Power and the Subject UCL Press: London

Natoli, J and L. Hutcheon (1993) Excerpts from The History of Sexuality: Volume 1: An Introduction in a Post Modern Reader State University of New York Press: Albany

Smart, B (1985 ) Michel Foucault Routledge: London

Week three: Mon 14th April-Thurs 17th April introduce the construction of masculinity and femininity We will look at masculinity and femininity, how they are perceived and constructed. Here we will draw on short stories, poetry and a movie. We will watch the movie Thelma and Louise (1991) directed by Ridley Scott, to focus our discussion. Some issues to consider in the movie

How is Thelma (housewife) and Louise’s (waitress) femininity constructed? Are they based on stereotypical notions of women? Yes or No (explain your answer) Note: Thelma and Louse are portrayed differently, almost as opposites. Define their characters. Who is the `strong’ one? Explain

Discuss the male characters in the movie and how their masculinity is constructed? Discuss the stereotypes, if any, that are drawn on for each character. a) Darryl (Thelma’s husband) b) Harlan (the rapist)Hal (FBI agent who wants to save them) c) J.D (hitchhiker, thief) d) Rasta Cyclist e) The trucker

Give examples from the movie of Thelma and Louise’s acts of freedom How is their freedom limited and discuss why?

Give examples from the movie of the different male characters’ control over the two women.

What do you think of the shooting of the rapist? Did Thelma `ask’ to be raped? How would you have handled the rapist if you had been there?

Discuss why the movie ended the way it did? How else could it have ended? Could there have been a happy ending. What is your emotional response to the movie?

Which feminist theories can you use to understand the movie? Discuss.


Barrett, M ( ) `Femininity, Masculinity and Sexual Practice’ in Women’s Oppression Today Verso: London

Connell, F.W (1995) Masculinities Polity press: Cambridge

D’Alessio (1993) `Born to be Gay’ in New Scientist 25th September

Maharaj, Z (1995) `A social theory of gender: Connells’ Gender and Power’ in Feminist Review. No 49 Spring

Miles, I (1989) `Masculinity and its Discontents’ in Futures

Rich, A (1997) `Compulsory Heterosexuality and Lesbian Existence’ in Feminisms Kemp, S and J. Squires (eds) Feminisms Oxford University Press: Oxford

Segal, L (1990) Slow Motion: Changing Masculinities, Changing Men Virago Press: London

Week four: Mon 21st April-Thurs 24th April

continue the construction of masculinity and femininity

Week five: Tues 29th April and Wed 30th April (note we follow Thursday timetable)

Introduction to homosexuality debates Week six: Mon 5th-Thurs 8th May

homosexuality We will look at homosexuality and the nature versus nurture debate as well as trans sexuality where it is interesting to look at how children develop gender identities and when they begin to consider themselves as boys or girls (excerpts from novel Middlesex) For instance, do you think children, would see themselves as boys or girls if they weren’t labeled as such by their parents and at nursery school. Two positions will be considered: the essentialist one that views identity as innate, for, eg, you are born straight, or gay, and the social constructionist one. Video Go Fish (1994, directed by Rose Troche). Go Fish Is a light hearted romantic comedy that touches on some serious issues.Video Go Fish

Some issues to consider in the movie 1. In the movie Evy’s mother disapproves of her being a lesbian. Evy remains in the closet because of this.What dooes `in the closet' mean? What do you think of Evy’s mother’s response? Do you think Evy should be open about her lifestyle? Why do gay people stay in the closet? Discuss homophobia. Are you homophobic?

2. When Daria has sex with a man she is condemned by the `jury’ for not being a lesbian. She says that when a gay man has sex with a woman he is "bored, drunk [or] lonely" but if a lesbian has sex with a man "her whole life choice becomes suspect." what do you think of Daria’s response? If you are straight and you have sex once with a member of the same sex does that make you gay? What determines your sexuality? Is it simply who you have sex with?

3. Why do you think the group of women discusses the various names for vagina? Why is it important for women to do this? Why are so many words for vagina derogatory or swear words, and even more so if used against men? What does this say about women’s status in society?


Knight, M (1994) `Transexuality explained' in Diva

Leghorn, L and K. Parker (1981) Woman’s Worth: Sexual economics and the world of women Routledge and Kegan Paul: Boston

Tiefer, L (1987) `Social Construction and the Study of Human Sexuality’ in Sex and Gender Shaver, P and C. Hendrick Sage: London

Weeks, J (1992) `The body and sexuality’ in Social and Cultural Forms of Modernity Bocock, R and K. Thompson

Weeks, J (2nd ed) (1981) Sex, Politics and Society: The regulation of sexuality since 1800 Longman: New York

Week seven: Mon 12th-Thurs 15th May the variety of contemporary feminist theories

We will study the variety of feminist theories and how they contribute to our understanding of gender, that is moving from liberal feminism through to socialist feminism and black feminism. This includes group presentations on the Thursday.


Barrett, M and M. McIntosh (1982) The Anti Social Family Verso: London

Dryden, C, Erlank, N Haffejee, Y, Hardy, K, Nhlapo, S, Tonkin, S and J. Tshamano (2002) T`he many voices of feminism' in Agenda: No 54 African Feminisms Two

Collins, P (1994) `The Social Construction of Black Feminist Thought’ in The Woman Question (2nd ed) Evans, M Sage: London

hooks, B (1984) Feminist Theory: from Margin to Centre South End Press: Boston

hooks, B (1997) `Feminism: A movement to End Sexist Oppression’ in Feminisms Kemp, S and J. Squires (eds) Feminisms Oxford University Press: Oxford

hooks, B (1997) `Black Women and Feminism’ in Feminisms Kemp, S and J. Squires (eds) Feminisms Oxford University Press: Oxford

Jackson, S, Atkinson, K, Beddoe, D Brewer, T, Faulkner, S, Hucklesby, A, Pearson, R, Power, H, Prince, J, Ryan, M and P. Young (1993) Women’s Studies: Essential Readings New York University Press: New York

Ritzer, G and D. Goodman ( 2003) `Gender and feminism in Modern Sociological Theory Ritzer, G and D. Goodman McGrawhill: New York

Romm, N and M. Sarakinsky (1994) `Feminism and Sociological Theory’ in Social Theory Romm, N and M. Sarakinsky (eds) Lexicon Publishers: Johannesburg

Tong, R (1989) Feminist Thought: A comprehensive introduction Unwin Hyman London

Wittig, M (1997) `One is not born a woman’ in Feminisms Kemp, S and J. Squires (eds) Feminisms Oxford University Press: Oxford

Week eight: Mon 19th-Thurs 22nd May feminist theories continued

group presentations