Unit 4: Unraveling the Gender Knot: Acquiring Gender Literacy to Promote Equity

Though America was founded as a democracy, for two-thirds of its existence, the voices of women have been silenced. Thus, our next unit will be an in-depth study of the inescapable effects of patriarchy in all of our lives. We will begin the unit with a look at the constrictive socialization of what it is to be “male” or “female” and how these limiting gender roles affect the dynamics of our relationships between males and females, males and males, and females and females.  We will read excerpts from Alice Walker’s The Color Purple, Maxine Hong Kingston’s Woman Warrior, and Sandra Cisneros’ Woman Hollering Creek, which give voice to the “intimately oppressed” within the traditional power-over model of gender relations. Next, we will explore the destructive social disease of homophobia as one expression of how fear and ignorance affect our encounters with one another and keep us from expressing our identities fully.  Looking carefully at these troubling dynamics can help us look at our own role in facing the challenge to create a truly democratic society where all people can experience loving, supportive partnerships that promote our own and each other’s growth.

Literature Workshop

When studying a sociological construct such as gender, it is crucial to see how literature has shaped the identity of women over time. This workshop highlights positive portrayals of women, particularly women of color, who experience the intersectionality of race and gender, and deal with a system of oppression that results in multiple forms of discrimination.

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From Control to Empowerment: Giving Voices to the Silenced

When studying a sociological construct such as gender, it is crucial to see how literature has shaped the identity of women over time. This workshop highlights positive portrayals of women, particularly women of color, who experience the intersectionality of race and gender, and deal with a system of oppression that results in multiple forms of discrimination. In each text, we will analyze the protagonist’s transformation from a place of control to one of empowerment, ultimately giving voice to those who have historically been silenced.

Readings:

Woman Hollering Creek, Sandra Cisneros
The Woman Warrior, Maxine Hong Kingston
The Color Purple, Alice Walker

Key Concepts:

Control vs. Empowerment
Supportive Female Community
Reclaiming one’s voice
Intersectionality of race and gender
Identity
Victim vs. Victor
Survivor vs. Fighter
Beauty
Dominance
Courage
Transformation
Friendship
Tradition
Family

Sociology Workshop

In this workshop, we will explore the theories of gender role socialization. We will study the theoretical debate of “nature vs. nurture,” and discuss how much of our understanding of gender is a result of biological predisposition and/or socialization.

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In this workshop, we seek to explore the complexities of gender role socialization. We will study the theoretical debate of “nature vs. nurture,” and discuss how much of our understanding of gender is a result of biological predisposition and/or socialization. We will also critique the perpetuation of notions of femininity and masculinity in the media to discover the multiple ways media images have shaped our gender identities specifically in the 1950’s.

Readings:
“Adam and Eve” from The Alphabet vs. the Goddess by Leonard Slain
“Night to His Day” by Judith Lorber
“Becoming a Princess: The Transition from Individual to Sex Object” by Ali Wachutka
“Something’s Fishy: My Feminist Attempt to Justify The Little Mermaid” by Anna Pulley

Film:
Mickey Mouse Monopoly
The Little Mermaid

Key Concepts:
Gender
Biological Sex
Gender Role
Notions of Feminity and Masculinity
Nature vs. Nurture
Social Learning Theory
Media Literacy
Advertising

History Workshop

In this workshop we will explore the “hidden” history of women in the United States. We begin with the colonial period and the origins of the women’s rights movement. Next, we will examine the Seneca Falls Convention and trace the key events of the woman’s suffrage movement, culminating in the 19thAmendment. Then, we will view different perspectives of the women’s rights movement through the words of Betty Friedan and Phyllis Schlafly. We will conclude this workshop with a study of the continuing struggles for equality and women’s rights in the present day.

LEARN MORE ABOUT THIS WORKSHOP

In this workshop we will explore the “hidden” history of women in the United States. We begin with the colonial period and the origins of the women’s rights movement. Next, we will examine the Seneca Falls Convention and trace the key events of the woman’s suffrage movement, culminating in the 19thAmendment. Then, we will view different perspectives of the women’s rights movement through the words of Betty Friedan and Phyllis Schlafly. We will conclude this workshop with a study of the continuing struggles for equality and women’s rights in the present day.

Readings:

“The Intimately Oppressed,” Howard Zinn
“The Yellow Wallpaper,” Charlotte Perkins Gilman
Betty Friedan 1969 speech
“In Our Own Words,” Phyllis Schlafly
“Surprises,” Howard Zinn

Films:

Iron Jawed Angels

Key Concepts:

Patriarchy
Women’s suffrage
The Woman’s Rights Movement

Visual Arts Workshop

This workshop focus on the art of narrative photography, based on the work of Judy Olausen and Cindy Sherman, as a means of highlighting the impact of gender roles on male and female experiences.

LEARN MORE ABOUT THIS WORKSHOP

In this workshop we will explore the “hidden” history of women in the United States. We begin with the colonial period and the origins of the women’s rights movement. Next, we will examine the Seneca Falls Convention and trace the key events of the woman’s suffrage movement, culminating in the 19thAmendment. Then, we will view different perspectives of the women’s rights movement through the words of Betty Friedan and Phyllis Schlafly. We will conclude this workshop with a study of the continuing struggles for equality and women’s rights in the present day.

Readings:

“The Intimately Oppressed,” Howard Zinn
“The Yellow Wallpaper,” Charlotte Perkins Gilman
Betty Friedan 1969 speech
“In Our Own Words,” Phyllis Schlafly
“Surprises,” Howard Zinn

Films:

Iron Jawed Angels

Key Concepts:

Patriarchy
Women’s suffrage
The Woman’s Rights Movement

Gender Studies Workshops

These workshops will analyze how patriarchy functions in our society and affects the development of a gender identity.

LEARN MORE ABOUT THESE WORKSHOPS

These workshops will analyze how patriarchy functions in our society and affects the development of a gender identity.

Readings:

The Gender Knot, Allan Johnson
“How to Be a Better Man”, Paul Kivel
“Violence Against Women is a Man’s Issue”, Jackson Katz
¨Female Chauvinist Pigs”, Ariel Levy
“Heterosexual Privileges: A Lit”, Devon Carbado
“How Homophobia Hurts Everyone:  A List”, Warren Blumenfeld
“He Works, She Works, but what Different Impressions They Make”, Gwyn Kirk and Margo Okazawa-Rey
“Reclaiming Male Integrity”, bell hooks
“10 Things Men Can Do to Prevent Gender Violence”, Jackson Katz
“Men’s Work Is”, Paul Kivel
“Man to Man”, Paul Kivel

Films:

Raising Cain
Tough Guise
Dreamworlds
Killing Us Softly
War Zone
Milk
The Laramie Project
In the Company of Men

Key Concepts:

Sexism
Gender identity
Gender roles
Masculinity
Femininity
Patriarchy
Misogyny
Rape Culture
Body Image
Homophobia
Heterosexism
Healthy relationships