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Introduction to Women's Studies

Ball State University

Spring Semester 2002



The following course description for “Introduction to Women’s Studies” is taken from the university website. The course described is self-evidently not an academic course in the sense of approaching the subject of women in a scholarly manner by examining the evidence from various perspectives, allowing students to draw their own conclusions and adopting a skeptical view towards ideologies that attempt to explain complex human issues through ready-made formulas. On the contrary, it is a course of indoctrination in the precepts of radical feminism – a sectarian approach to women even within the broad framework of feminism itself.


The texts for the course are exclusively those of radical feminism. Even the subjects suggested for the women’s biography paper are exclusively drawn from the political left.


This is not an appropriate university course. It violates the basic precepts of academic freedom as set forth by the American Association of University Professors. It is, furthermore, entirely inappropriate for a university funded by the citizens of Indiana to underwrite a training program in sectarian doctrines and agendas.


Syllabus for the Course: Introduction to Women's Studies


Your Host: Asst. Prof. River Karner

Office: RB 390

Office Phone: 289.7829

E: rjkarner@bsu.edu

Office Hours: W 5:30-7:30, TH 12:30-2:30 and by appointment or chance 


Text: Women's Voices, Feminist Visions: Classic and Contemporary Readings , Susan M. Shaw and Janet Lee

Various handouts


Course Description:

Introduction to Women's Studies is an interdisciplinary survey of research and literature by and about women and feminism, with topics drawn from the social sciences, humanities, and the biological sciences. Central issues in contemporary women's lives will be analyzed through the lens of gender and its intersection with race, class, sexual orientation, ability, and age. The course is centered on feminist scholarship about women and their relationships with: systems of oppression and privilege; social and individual identities; the body; family; motherhood; work; violence; state, law, and social policies; politics; global perspectives; health and reproductive rights, sexuality and intimacy; art, music, and culture; creative _expression; and empowerment. Also included are women's changing roles and their treatment through history, and the positive changes that feminism has brought to women due to the influence of the Civil Rights Movement, the Women's Liberation Movements, and the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Rights Movements. Because sexism, racism, classism, homophobia, heterosexism, ageism, and ableism limit possibilities for everyone, you will have the opportunity to 1) study theories of oppression, institutional power, and privilege, 2) investigate ways to challenge oppression so that positive societal changes can continue to occur, and 3) explore ways to celebrate efforts to create a gender­just society.


One of the goals in this course is to challenge non- and feminist definitions of “feminism.” I understand that there may be many of you who have come to think of “feminist” as another way of saying “man-hater” or “separatist.” You may, like many, “believe in the rights of women and work for those rights while from fear deny that [you] are feminists, or refuse to use the word because it is so abrasive’” (Pharr, Women: Images and Realities 349). So, there will be an effort in this class to help free the concept of feminism and the feminist movement from negative stereotyping and myths. The primary goal of the feminist movement is to create a society “in which women are able to participate fully in all aspects of social and political life” (Kesselman, McNair, Schniedewind, Women: Images, and Realities 390). Feminism is not a “single issue” movement – as is suggested by some as being solely about abortion rights, for example.


Our working definition of a feminist will be: A feminist is anyone invested in women’s full participation in all aspects of social and political life.


Learning Objectives:

By the end of the semester, the successful student will be able to:

1. Discuss Women's Studies as a critical, scholarly discipline and as the academic manifestation of feminism.

College­wide Ability: Critical thinking/Problem solving. Assessment: quizzes, and journal.


2. Define feminism, sexism, racism, classism, homophobia, heterosexism, biphobia, transphobia, gender phobia, ageism, ableism, misogyny, androcentrism, patriarchy, oppression, internalized oppression, institutional power, privilege, unearned entitlements, prejudice, and empowerment.


College­wide Abilities: Critical thinking/Problem solving and Global/Multicultural Perspectives. Assessment: quizzes, journal, and biography project.


3. Identify and evaluate information on feminism and women's issues on the Internet.

College­wide Ability: Information/Technology. Assessment: Internet assignment.


4. Discuss theories of oppression and privilege and the feminist principle that the personal is political.

College­wide Ability: Critical thinking/Problem solving. Assessment: journal, and biography project.


5. Identify the contributions of feminism and the women's rights movements to women's existing rights.

College­wide Ability: Critical thinking/Problem solving. Assessment: quizzes, and journal.


6. Demonstrate an awareness of and an appreciation for the diversity of identities among women, particularly by race, class, sexual orientation, age and/or ability. Demonstrate an awareness of and an appreciation for one's own place within that diversity.

College­wide Ability: Global/Multicultural Perspectives. Assessment: journal, biography project, and creative project.


7. Demonstrate an understanding of the intersections of gender, race, ethnicity, class, age, sexual orientation, and ability and the effects of these intersections on the identity and social status of women.

College­wide Ability: Global/Multicultural Perspectives. Assessment: journal, biography project, and creative project.

"Expressing My Voice" Creative Project: (Due April 22)

Project and Presentation

The first part is for you to express and reinforce your "voice" through a creative project that contains the following:

1. A definition of yourself, which may include but is not limited to gender, race, class, sexual orientation, age, and ability. You may also include how what you have learned in this course has affected your life.

2. Aspects of yourself and your culture, ethnicity, race, class, gender, sexual orientation, age, and ability that you want to celebrate and nurture.


For your project, you may create a poem, a short story, a short play, a song, an altar, a picture (drawing, painting, crayon ­drawing, collage, photographs, etc.), or sing, dance, or do anything else creative. The presentation of your

project will be 3-5 minutes.



The second part of this assignment is a 1 page, double ­spaced, typed paper explaining your project and answering the following questions.

a. How did you define yourself? Did you include race, class, gender, sexual orientation, age and ability (#1 above)?  

b. What aspects of yourself and your culture, ethnicity, race, class, gender, sexual orientation, age and ability did you choose to celebrate and nurture through your project (#2 above)?  

c. What is the significance of your creation and why did you choose the form and elements used?

d. What did you learn from doing this project?

Papers are due April 22nd and are worth 10 points. Presentations are also on April 22nd and are worth 25 points. No late papers or presentations will be accepted.


Biography Project: (65 points-Due October 14 and 23)

This project will help you: acquire an awareness of and an appreciation for the diversity of identities among women, particularly by race, class, sexual orientation, and/or ability; acquire an awareness of and an appreciation for your own place within that diversity; and demonstrate your understanding of the intersections of gender, race, ethnicity, class, age, sexual orientation, and ability and the effects of these intersections on the identity and social status of women.


Part One-(Due January 28th) Choose two women (labeled first and second choices) who differ from you in at least one way with regard to race, class, sexual orientation, and/or ability for your project. I must approve your choice. No two students may choose the same person. Should this happen, I will make the choice randomly.


On a sheet of paper, write the following sentence for each woman, filling in the blanks:

I choose to do my project on ____________ because she is/was ____________ and I am ____________.


Examples: I choose to do my project on Audre Lorde because she was African American and I am white. I choose to do my project on Pat Schroeder because she is heterosexual and I am a lesbian.


Research your woman in books, journal articles, and Internet Web sites using at least five resources (including at least two books and/or journal articles).


Part Two-(Due March 4th) Present a summary of your research. Points will be awarded based upon how much and how well you respond to the questions below.

a) Describe the life of the woman you chose answering the 5 Ws. Who was she? Where did she live? When did she live? What did she do? Why should we know about her?

b) How did gender, race, class, sexual orientation, and/or ability affect her life?  

c) How did gender, race, class, sexual orientation, and/or ability interact with each other in her life? What were the effects of these interactions in her life?  

d) Include a picture of the woman and make sure the font is legible to the class. 

On the date assigned, using your summary overhead, present your research to the class in a 3 ­-5 minute presentation.


Part Three-(Due March 4th) Write a 3-4 page, double­-spaced, typed paper. Use MLA format and include a Works Cited page. Set up your paper according to the three parts listed below. Relate the life of the person you have chosen to your own life according to the questions below. Think about yourself and the woman you researched in context by gender, race, class, sexual orientation, and ability. In other words, where are you both with regard to the mythical norm? Points will be awarded based upon the quantity, quality, and clarity of the information provided. Late papers and presentations will not be accepted.


Part 1 of your paper: You

1) In what ways are you outside the mythical norm?

2) How have systems of oppression affected you? What have you gained from being outside the mythical norm?

3) In what ways are you inside the mythical norm?  

4) What privileges and opportunities have you received from being inside the mythical norm?


Part 2 of your paper: Woman Researched

1) In what ways is the woman you chose outside the mythical norm?  

2) How did systems of oppression affect her? What did she gain from being outside the mythical norm?  

3) In what ways is the woman you chose inside the mythical norm?  

4) What privileges and opportunities did she receive from being inside the mythical norm?


Part 3 of your paper: Student and Woman Researched

1) How is the woman you chose like you & unlike you with regard to gender, race, class, sexual orientation, and ability?

2) How have your experiences of oppression and privilege and her experiences of oppression and privilege been similar and different?  

3) What lessons or inspirations have you gained from researching this woman?


Papers are expected to be grammatically and stylistically correct. Having too many of these problems will lower the letter grade of the paper.


Some Ideas for Women to Research for the Biography Project (But don’t feel confined to these!) 

Teena Brandon, Gwendolyn Brooks, Z Budapest, Nannie Helen Burroughs, Connie Chung, Bessie Coleman, Marie Curie, Dorothy Dandridge, Angela Davis, Waris Dirie, Leslie Feinburg, Matilda Joslyn Gage, Althea Gibson, Sara Good, Billie Holiday, Fannie Lou Hamer, bell hooks, Zora Neale Hurston, Mae Jemison, Frida Kahlo, Susanna Kaysen, Billie Jean King, Audre Lorde, Harriet Martineau, Grace O'Malley, Rosa Parks, Charlotte Ray

Janet Reno, Faith Ringhold, Wilma Rudolph, Mary Jane Seacole, Betty Shabazz, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Starhawk, Gertrude Stein, Sojourner Truth

Harriet Tubman, Ida B. Wells, Alice Walker, Madam CJ Walker, Ethyl Waters




Course Schedule

Week #1 January 7th 



Review Course Syllabus

Watch Video



Week #2 January 14th


Women’s Studies: Perspectives and Practices (1-17)

Claiming an Education, Adrienne Rich (18-20)

Letter One: Your Legacy, Phyllis Chesler (21-24)

Beyond Bean Counting, Jee Yeun Lee (36-39)

Shame, Guilt, and Responsibility, Allan G. Johnson (40-43)

Denials of Inequality, Deborah L. Rhode (43-45)

Fear of Feminism: Why Young Women Get the Willies, Lisa Maria Hogeland (532-535)

Real Men Join the Movement, Michael Kimmel (536-540)

Web site

Burning Bras...Not Exactly



Week #3 January 21st


Systems of Privilege and Inequality in Women's Lives  (46-56) 

Toward a New Vision: Race, Class, and Gender as Categories of Analysis and Connection, Patricia Hill Collins (57-65)

Oppression, Marilyn Frye (66-68)

Homophobia: A Weapon of Sexism, Suzanne Pharr (74-78)

White Privilege and Male Privilege, Peggy McIntosh (78-86)  

Web site

White Privilege Shapes the US , http://uts.cc.utexas.edu/~rjensen/freelance/whiteprivilege.htm

Web site

More Thoughts on White Privilege, http://uts.cc.utexas.edu/~rjensen/freelance/whitefolo.htm

Something About the Subject Makes It Hard to Name, Gloria Yamato (86-89)

Tired of Playing Monopoly?, Donna Langston (89-94)

The Plurality of Gender­-Based Realities, Virginia Sapiro (125-129)

When I Was Growing Up, Nellie Wong (130-131)

Web site

Fear of Whitey,


Web site

Teaching Tolerance,

http://www.teachingtolerance.org (Click "Examine Your Role." Click "Test

Yourself for Hidden Bias." Read and at bottom of page, click "Go." Do the "Black and White Race Bias" test and at least one other test. Check out how you scored.)

Web site

http://www.tolerance.org/maps/hate/index.html (What hate groups are in Vancouver & Portland ?)


Week #4 January 28th 


Biography Project Part 1 due

Gender Stereotyping in the English Language, Laurel Richardson (68-73)

Learning Gender in a Diverse Society, (107-118)

X: A Fabulous Child's Story, Lois Gould (119-121)

The Social Construction of Gender, Judith Lorber (121-124)

Boys Will Be Boys and Girls Will Not, Mariah Burton Nelson (135-141)

What Are Little Boys Made Of?, Michael Kimmel (141-144)

Web site

Oh, But Emily! We Want to Know More! http://www.angelfire.com/pa/habby/essay.html

Inscribing Gender on the Body (185-196)

If Men Could Menstruate, Gloria Steinem (202-203)

My Fat Lover, Judith Joyce (203-205)



Week #5 February 4th

View “The Brandon Teena Story”



Week #6 February 11th


Sex, Power, and Intimacy (145-157)

Web site

http://www.transtherapist.com/index.html (At the left, click "Various Writings." Read: Dual Citizenship, High School, & Living La Vida Medea. Optional reading: "Work in Progress.")

Radical Heterosexuality, Naomi Wolf (166-169)

Bisexuality, Feminism, Men, and Me, Robyn Ochs (169-172)

Coffee Will Make You Black, April Sinclair (172-174)

La Güera, Cherríe Moraga (174-178)

Pleasures, Diane Hugs (178)

Compañeros, Carolyn Reyes & Eric DeMeulenaere (178-181)

Some Like Indians Endure, Paula Gunn Allen (182-183)

Web site

http://www.hite-research.com/ (At left, click "articles" and then, "sexuality."

Read "What is a Woman's Sexual Nature?" and "What is a Man's Sexual Nature?")


Week #7 February 18th


Women's Work Inside and Outside the Home (304-316)

A Brief History of Working Women, Sharlene Hesse­Biber & Gregg Lee Carter (317-331)

The Globetrotting Sneaker, Cynthia Enloe (349-353)

Web site

Remarks of Lt. Brenda Berkman, FDNY, http://www.wfsi.org/BerkNWLC.html

Web site

Too Far Back for Comfort, http://www.wfsi.org/Toofarback.html


Week #8 February 25th  


Resisting Violence against Women (395-406)

Lisa's Ritual, Age 10, Grace Caroline Bridges (423)

Pornography and Freedom, John Stoltenberg (423-427)

The Internet and the Global Prostitution Industry, Donna M. Hughes (427-431)

Prostitution: A Difficult Issue for Feminists, Priscilla Alexander (344-348)

Web site

Rape Quiz, http://www.justicewomen.com/cj_rapequiz_intro_en.html

(Take rape quiz)

Web site

Recovering from Rape, http://www.4women.gov/editor/may00/may00.htm

Web site

Date Rape Drugs, http://www.mayoclinic.com/invoke.cfm?id=HQ00507  

Violence Against Women: An Issue of Human Rights, Women in Action (407-408)

Supremacy Crimes, Gloria Steinem (409-411)

Her Toughest Case, Constance Johnson (417-422)


 Week #9 March 4th

Biography Presentations and papers due


Week #10 March 11th

Spring Break!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Enjoy!!!!!!!!!!!!!


Week #11 March 18th


Women's Issues on the Internet Due

Health and Reproductive Rights (222-237)

How Far We’ve Come, Harvard Women’s Health Watch (238-243)

Gender Role Stressors and Women’s Health, Patti Lou Watkins and Diane Whaley (243-247)

Forgotten Women: How Minorities Are Underserved by Our Health Care System, Lisa Collier Cool (247-249)

My Fight for Birth Control, Margaret Sanger (255-257)

How Women Pay for Fetal Rights, Rachel Roth (262-266)

Web site

Women and Lesbian Health Links http://depts.washington.edu/wswstd/health_links.htm

Web site

Lesbian Health Guidelines http://sogc.medical.org/SOGCnet/sogc_docs/common/guide/pdfs/ps87.pdf


Week #12 March 25th   


Family Systems, Family Lives (268-280)

What We Call Each Other, Anndee Hochman (298-301)

Only Daughter, Sandra Cisneros (301-302)

The "Constructed Problems" of Contemporary Family Life, Michael Kimmel (281-289)

Friendly For Whose Family?, Betty Hocomb (295-297)

The Crime that Had No Name, Mary Frances Berry (463-466)

Web site

Why I Want a Wife, Judy Syfers  http://www.cwluherstory.com/CWLUArchive/wantawife.html


Week #13 April 1st


Bring a Magazine to class.

Women Confronting and Creating Culture (355-368)

Poetry Is Not a Luxury, Audre Lorde (371-373)

Construction of the Female Self: Feminist Readings of the Disney Heroine, Jill Birnie Henke, Diane Zimmerman Umble, and Nancy J. Smith (376-380)

From Fly-Girls to Bitches and Hos, Joan Morgan (380-383)

Web site

Guerrilla Girls http://www.guerrillagirls.com/


Week #14 April 8th


State, Law, and Social Policy (435-450)

Constitutional Argument, Susan B. Anthony (451-452)

Women and Family Law: Marriage and Divorce, M. Margaret Conway, David W. Ahern, and Gertrude A. Steuernagel (452-463)

It’s a Family Affair: Women, Poverty, and Welfare, Randy Albelda and Chris Tilly (467-470)

Battered Women: A New Asylum Case, Anna Shelton (474-477)

Stopping Abuse in Prison, Nina Siegal (478-481)

Web site

Women, Gender and Law  http://www.catalaw.com/topics/Women.shtml


Week #15 April 15th


Activism, Change, and Feminist Futures (520-531)

Feminist Activism: Historical Context, Sheila Ruth (24-32)

Revolutionary Feminism: An Anti-Racist Agenda, bell hooks (33-36)

Web site

The Untold Story, http://www.awakenedwoman.com/iroquois_women.htm

The Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, Beijing Declaration (545-549)

Taking the High Road, Suzanne Pharr (549-552)

Epilogue: Beyond Backlash, Ruth Rosen (552-559)

Web site

Feminist Activism/Resistance/Intervention/Globalism http://www.obn.org/nCI/report3.htm

Web site

WomenWatch http://www.un.org/womenwatch/

Web site

Women’s Rights and Feminist Activism http://www.wifp.org/feministactivism.html

Week #16 April 22nd 

Creative Project Presentations


Internet Assignment on Women's Issues


Search the Internet for five websites on women's issues. These Web sites should be different from the ones included in your syllabus. You may use the key words below in your search. Complete the form (I’ve given you one at the end of this) listing the titles and web addresses of the most interesting sites and what is interesting about them. When you have finished your investigation, answer: 1) What's the most interesting statistic about women's issues you have found and why? 2) What is the most interesting non­statistical fact about women's issues you have found and why? 3) What is the most important thing you learned from this assignment?


Following are some ideas for your key word searches:


women, women and lesbian, Arab women, women and art, women and science, women and transsexual, African women, women and body image, women and mathematics, women and transgender, Scandinavian women, women and spirituality, women and music, women and bisexual, Asian women, women and development, women and sexuality, wimmin, European women, women and health, women and classism, womyn, Jewish women, women and heterosexism, women and age, feminism, Latina women,  homophobia, sexism, women and gender, Native American women, women and literature, women and  welfare, goddess, African American women, women and  work, women and  racism, third wave feminism, Arab American women, women and  violence, women and reproductive rights, womanism, Asian American women, women and politics, women's studies, global feminism,  Chicana women



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