Spring 2022 | Mediterranean Exploration

WS 200 Introduction to Women’s Studies [CRN 19479]

Overview of Course

Women's Studies, Sexuality Studies, Gender Theory, Feminism... how has the field of women's/sexuality/gender studies developed over the past half century or so? What are its central debates and controversies and can it contribute constructively (positively and critically) to the quality and character of our increasingly transnational, global society? In the fall of 2019, 7th grade girls in Bozeman, Montana requested that their middle school administrators make free tampons available in the school's public restrooms. Their request was denied. The school's principle said they might "abuse the privilege." What? Did he think they were going to smuggle out of school more tampons than they needed and then sell the contraband tampons on the street market? They protested and publicized their protest by making anatomically correct "tampon cookies," making a huge splash in local, regional, and national news, and drawing the attention and praise of then NARAL President Ilyse Hogue.

This "micro protest" is an example of how the local is global, and the acts of individuals who inspire small groups can lead to much broader changes in how people think about things, important things, like gender, and gendered shame, which disempowers all of us including, in this case, adolescent girls who took action to reclaim and "stand in" their power. This introductory course will cover a lot of ground with a focus on the question of "difference" and what difference, difference makes through the lens of gender. One of the first differences we become aware of is gender, and this is baked into the ideology and culture in which we learn language, and with it meaning.