Gender Studies: Foundations and Key Concepts

Gender studies developed alongside and emerged out of Women’s Studies. This non-exhaustive list introduces readers to scholarship in the field.

Jack Halberstam, Afsaneh Najmabadi-Evaz and bell hooks

Gender studies asks what it means to make gender salient, bringing a critical eye to everything from labor conditions to healthcare access to popular culture. Gender is never isolated from other factors that determine someone’s position in the world, such as sexuality, race, class, ability, religion, region of origin, citizenship status, life experiences, and access to resources. Beyond studying gender as an identity category, the field is invested in illuminating the structures that naturalize, normalize, and discipline gender across historical and cultural contexts.

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At a college or university, you’d be hard pressed to find a department that brands itself as simply Gender Studies. You’d be more likely to find different arrangements of the letters G, W, S, and perhaps Q and F, signifying gender, women, sexuality, queer, and feminist studies. These various letter configurations aren’t just semantic idiosyncrasies. They illustrate the ways the field has grown and expanded since its institutionalization in the 1970s.

This non-exhaustive list aims to introduce readers to gender studies in a broad sense. It shows how the field has developed over the last several decades, as well as how its interdisciplinary nature offers a range of tools for understanding and critiquing our world.

Catharine R. Stimpson, Joan N. Burstyn, Domna C. Stanton, and Sandra M. Whisler, “Editorial.” Signs , 1975; “Editorial,” off our backs , 1970

The editorial from the inaugural issue of Signs , founded in 1975 by Catharine Stimpson, explains that the founders hoped that the journal’s title captured what women’s studies is capable of doing: to “represent or point to something.” Women’s studies was conceptualized as an interdisciplinary field that could represent issues of gender and sexuality in new ways, with the possibility of shaping “scholarship, thought, and policy.”

The editorial in the first issue of off our backs , a feminist periodical founded in 1970, explains how their collective wanted to explore the “dual nature of the women’s movement:” that “women need to be free of men’s domination” and “must strive to get off our backs.” The content that follows includes reports on the Equal Rights Amendment, protests, birth control, and International Women’s Day.

Robyn Wiegman, “Academic Feminism against Itself.” NWSA Journal , 2002

Gender studies developed alongside and emerged out of Women’s Studies, which consolidated as an academic field of inquiry in the 1970s. Wiegman tracks some of the anxieties that emerged with the shift from women’s to gender studies, such as concerns it would decenter women and erase the feminist activism that gave rise to the field. She considers these anxieties as part of a larger concern over the future of the field, as well as fear that academic work on gender and sexuality has become too divorced from its activist roots.

Jack Halberstam, “Gender.” Keywords for American Cultural Studies, Second Edition (2014)

Halberstam’s entry in this volume provides a useful overview for debates and concepts that have dominated the field of gender studies: Is gender purely a social construct? What is the relationship between sex and gender? How does the gendering of bodies shift across disciplinary and cultural contexts? How did the theorizing of gender performativity in the 1990s by Judith Butler open up intellectual trajectories for queer and transgender studies? What is the future of gender as an organizing rubric for social life and as a mode of intellectual inquiry? Halberstam’s synthesis of the field makes a compelling case for why the study of gender persists and remains relevant for humanists, social scientists, and scientists alike.

Miqqi Alicia Gilbert, “Defeating Bigenderism: Changing Gender Assumptions in the Twenty-First Century.” Hypatia , 2009

Scholar and transgender activist Miqqi Alicia Gilbert considers the production and maintenance of the gender binary—that is, the idea that there are only two genders and that gender is a natural fact that remains stable across the course of one’s life. Gilbert’s view extends across institutional, legal, and cultural contexts, imagining what a frameworks that gets one out of the gender binary and gender valuation would have to look like to eliminate sexism, transphobia, and discrimination.

Judith Lorber, “Shifting Paradigms and Challenging Categories.” Social Problems , 2006

Judith Lorber identifies the key paradigm shifts in sociology around the question of gender: 1) acknowledging gender as an “organizing principle of the overall social order in modern societies;” 2) stipulating that gender is socially constructed, meaning that while gender is assigned at birth based on visible genitalia, it isn’t a natural, immutable category but one that is socially determined; 3) analyzing power in modern western societies reveals the dominance of men and promotion of a limited version of heterosexual masculinity; 4) emerging methods in sociology are helping disrupt the production of ostensibly universal knowledge from a narrow perspective of privileged subjects. Lorber concludes that feminist sociologists’ work on gender has provided the tools for sociology to reconsider how it analyzes structures of power and produces knowledge.

bell hooks, “Sisterhood: Political Solidarity between Women.” Feminist Review , 1986

bell hooks argues that the feminist movement has privileged the voices, experiences, and concerns of white women at the expense of women of color. Instead of acknowledging who the movement has centered, white women have continually invoked the “common oppression” of all women, a move they think demonstrates solidarity but actually erases and marginalizes women who fall outside of the categories of white, straight, educated, and middle-class. Instead of appealing to “common oppression,” meaningful solidarity requires that women acknowledge their differences, committing to a feminism that “aims to end sexist oppression.” For hooks, this necessitates a feminism that is anti-racist. Solidarity doesn’t have to mean sameness; collective action can emerge from difference.

Jennifer C. Nash, “re-thinking intersectionality.” Feminist Review , 2008

Chances are you’ve come across the phrase “intersectional feminism.” For many, this term is redundant: If feminism isn’t attentive to issues impacting a range of women, then it’s not actually feminism. While the term “intersectional” now circulates colloquially to signify a feminism that is inclusive, its usage has become divorced from its academic origins. The legal scholar Kimberlé Crenshaw created the term “intersectionality” in the 1980s based on Black women’s experiences with the law in cases of discrimination and violence. Intersectionality is not an adjective or a way to describe identity, but a tool for analyzing structures of power. It aims to disrupt universal categories of and claims about identity. Jennifer Nash provides an overview of intersectionality’s power, including guidance on how to deploy it in the service of coalition-building and collective action.

Treva B. Lindsey, “Post-Ferguson: A ‘Herstorical’ Approach to Black Violability.” Feminist Studies , 2015

Treva Lindsey considers the erasure of Black women’s labor in anti-racist activism , as well as the erasure of their experiences with violence and harm. From the Civil Rights Movement to #BlackLivesMatter, Black women’s contributions and leadership have not been acknowledged to the same extent as their male counterparts. Furthermore, their experiences with state-sanctioned racial violence don’t garner as much attention. Lindsey argues that we must make visible the experiences and labor of Black women and queer persons of color in activist settings in order to strengthen activist struggles for racial justice.

Renya Ramirez, “Race, Tribal Nation, and Gender: A Native Feminist Approach to Belonging.” Meridians , 2007

Renya Ramirez (Winnebago) argues that indigenous activist struggles for sovereignty, liberation, and survival must account for gender. A range of issues impact Native American women, such as domestic abuse, forced sterilization , and sexual violence. Furthermore, the settler state has been invested in disciplining indigenous concepts and practices of gender, sexuality, and kinship, reorienting them to fit into white settler understandings of property and inheritance. A Native American feminist consciousness centers gender and envisions decolonization without sexism.

Hester Eisenstein, “A Dangerous Liaison? Feminism and Corporate Globalization.” Science & Society , 2005

Hester Eisenstein argues that some of contemporary U.S. feminism’s work in a global context has been informed by and strengthened capitalism in a way that ultimately increases harms against marginalized women. For example, some have suggested offering poor rural women in non-U.S. contexts microcredit as a path to economic liberation. In reality, these debt transactions hinder economic development and “continue the policies that have created the poverty in the first place.” Eisenstein acknowledges that feminism has the power to challenge capitalist interests in a global context, but she cautions us to consider how aspects of the feminist movement have been coopted by corporations.

Afsaneh Najmabadi, “Transing and Transpassing Across Sex-Gender Walls in Iran.” Women’s Studies Quarterly , 2008

Afsaneh Najmabadi remarks on the existence of sex-reassignment surgeries in Iran since the 1970s and the increase in these surgeries in the twenty-first century. She explains that these surgeries are a response to perceived sexual deviance; they’re offered to cure persons who express same-sex desire. Sex-reassignment surgeries ostensibly “heteronormaliz[e]” people who are pressured to pursue this medical intervention for legal and religious reasons. While a repressive practice, Najmabadi also argues that this practice has paradoxically provided “ relatively safer semipublic gay and lesbian social space” in Iran. Najmabadi’s scholarship illustrates how gender and sexual categories, practices, and understandings are influenced by geographical and cultural contexts.

Susan Stryker, Paisley Currah, and Lisa Jean Moore’s “Introduction: Trans-, Trans, or Transgender?” Women’s Studies Quarterly , 2008

Susan Stryker, Paisley Currah, and Lisa Jean Moore map the ways that transgender studies can expand feminist and gender studies. “Transgender” does not need to exclusively signify individuals and communities, but can provide a lens for interrogating all bodies’ relationships to gendered spaces, disrupting the bounds of seemingly strict identity categories, and redefining gender. The “trans-” in transgender is a conceptual tool for interrogating the relationship between bodies and the institutions that discipline them.

David A. Rubin, “‘An Unnamed Blank That Craved a Name’: A Genealogy of Intersex as Gender.” Signs , 2012

David Rubin considers the fact that intersex persons have been subject to medicalization, pathologization, and “regulation of embodied difference through biopolitical discourses, practices, and technologies” that rely on normative cultural understandings of gender and sexuality. Rubin considers the impact intersexuality had on conceptualizations of gender in mid-twentieth century sexology studies, and how the very concept of gender that emerged in that moment has been used to regulate the lives of intersex individuals.

Rosemarie Garland-Thomson, “Feminist Disability Studies.” Signs , 2005

Rosemarie Garland-Thomson provides a thorough overview of the field of feminist disability studies. Both feminist and disability studies contend that those things which seem most natural to bodies are actually produced by a range of political, legal, medical, and social institutions. Gendered and disabled bodies are marked by these institutions. Feminist disability studies asks: How are meaning and value assigned to disabled bodies? How is this meaning and value determined by other social markers, such as gender, sexuality, race, class, religion, national origin, and citizenship status?

The field asks under what conditions disabled bodies are denied or granted sexual, reproductive, and bodily autonomy and how disability impacts the exploration of gender and sexual expression in childhood, adolescence, and adulthood historical and contemporary pathologization of genders and sexualities. It explores how disabled activists, artists, and writers respond to social, cultural, medical, and political forces that deny them access, equity, and representation

Karin A. Martin, “William Wants a Doll. Can He Have One? Feminists, Child Care Advisors, and Gender-Neutral Child Rearing.” Gender and Society , 2005

Karin Martin examines the gender socialization of children through an analysis of a range of parenting materials. Materials that claim to be (or have been claimed as) gender-neutral actually have a deep investment in training children in gender and sexual norms. Martin invites us to think about how adult reactions to children’s gender nonconformity pivots on a fear that gender expression in childhood is indicative of present or future non-normative sexuality. In other words, U.S. culture is unable to separate gender from sexuality. We imagine gender identity and expression maps predictably onto sexual desire. When children’s gender identity and expression exceeds culturally-determined permissible bounds in a family or community, adults project onto the child and discipline accordingly.

Sarah Pemberton, “Enforcing Gender: The Constitution of Sex and Gender in Prison Regimes.” Signs , 2013

Sarah Pemberton’s considers how sex-segregated prisons in the U.S. and England discipline their populations differently according to gender and sexual norms. This contributes to the policing, punishment, and vulnerability of incarcerated gender-nonconforming, transgender, and intersex persons. Issues ranging from healthcare access to increased rates of violence and harassment suggest that policies impacting incarcerated persons should center gender.

Dean Spade, “Some Very Basic Tips for Making High Education More Accessible to Trans Students and Rethinking How We Talk about Gendered Bodies.” The Radical Teacher , 2011

Lawyer and trans activist Dean Spade offers a pedagogical perspective on how to make classrooms accessible and inclusive for students. Spade also offers guidance on how to have classroom conversations about gender and bodies that don’t reassert a biological understanding of gender or equate certain body parts and functions with particular genders. While the discourse around these issues is constantly shifting, Spade provides useful ways to think about small changes in language that can have a powerful impact on students.

Sarah S. Richardson, “Feminist Philosophy of Science: History, Contributions, and Challenges.” Synthese , 2010

Feminist philosophy of science is a field comprised of scholars studying gender and science that has its origins in the work of feminist scientists in the 1960s. Richardson considers the contributions made by these scholars, such as increased opportunities for and representation of women in STEM fields , pointing out biases in seemingly neutral fields of scientific inquiry. Richardson also considers the role of gender in knowledge production, looking at the difficulties women have faced in institutional and professional contexts. The field of feminist philosophy of science and its practitioners are marginalized and delegitimized because of the ways they challenge dominant modes of knowledge production and disciplinary inquiry.

Bryce Traister’s “Academic Viagra: The Rise of American Masculinity Studies.” American Quarterly , 2000

Bryce Traister considers the emergence of masculinity studies out of gender studies and its development in American cultural studies. He argues that the field has remained largely invested in centering heterosexuality, asserting the centrality and dominance of men in critical thought. He offers ways for thinking about how to study masculinity without reinstituting gendered hierarchies or erasing the contributions of feminist and queer scholarship.

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Library Home

Introduction to Women, Gender, Sexuality Studies

(30 reviews)

gender studies essays

Miliann Kang, University of Massachusetts

Donovan Lessard

Laura Heston, University of Massachusetts

Sonny Nordmarken, University of Massachusetts

Copyright Year: 2017

ISBN 13: 9781945764028

Publisher: UMass Amherst

Language: English

Formats Available

Conditions of use.


Learn more about reviews.

Reviewed by Melvina Khalfani, Community Faculty, Metropolitan State University on 3/5/24

This text offers a comprehensive introductory guide to key concepts and topics relevant to Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies. Helpful historical context is offered to guide students' understandings of the social and political relevance of core... read more

Comprehensiveness rating: 4 see less

This text offers a comprehensive introductory guide to key concepts and topics relevant to Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies. Helpful historical context is offered to guide students' understandings of the social and political relevance of core concepts and terms. This makes a wonderful complementary text when paired with other instructor videos and articles that discuss similar topics in greater detail.

Content Accuracy rating: 4

The content is accurate and incorporates important shifts within the field over the last decade.

Relevance/Longevity rating: 5

This text delves into current political movements well and situates the current landscape in the greater context of feminist history and scholarship. It is up to date when considering its publication year.

Clarity rating: 5

The clarity of this text is useful for students who lack a basic familiarity with GWSS topics. The explanations for core terms are very accessible. This offers a helpful primer for students at the start of the semester.

Consistency rating: 5

The frameworks and language deployed through the text are consistent and clear.

Modularity rating: 5

The text is broken down into five units, with each unit further broken down into several sections related to important subtopics. This makes the text easy to assign in sections and pair with other course materials that delve into the subtopics with more depth.

Organization/Structure/Flow rating: 5

The organization makes sense. The text helpfully walks readers through each core topic, which builds upon previous sections.

Interface rating: 5

The text is easy to navigate. All depictions and page layouts are accessible.

Grammatical Errors rating: 5

No grammatical errors to note.

Cultural Relevance rating: 5

This text makes a strong effort to offer inclusive materials relevant to a diverse student audience.

Reviewed by Meredith Clark-Wiltz, Professor and Hon. Roger D. Branigin Chair, Franklin College on 1/23/24

In just over 100 or so pages, this brief textbook offers a solid introduction to the field of women, gender, and sexuality studies in a format that is accessible to undergraduate students. Primarily featuring the work of sociologists, it provides... read more

In just over 100 or so pages, this brief textbook offers a solid introduction to the field of women, gender, and sexuality studies in a format that is accessible to undergraduate students. Primarily featuring the work of sociologists, it provides clear and accessible explanations to central concepts, terms, and frameworks that are used across multiple disciplines. The text, subdivided into five units, focuses on foundational concepts (social constructionism, intersectionality, etc.); constructed categories of identity and their social meaning; institutions and culture; labor and the economy; and social movements--past and present. It is a good introduction, but it will allows for substantial supplementation with other readings and materials.

The text provides accurate, though select, introductory information about the field of women, gender, and sexuality studies. It is increasingly difficult in current times to update materials to reflect so many of the uncertainties and policy changes related to this field of study. For instance, the text could be updated to include recent Supreme Court decisions regarding abortion access and affirmative action. However, the brevity of the text does permit for the assigning of more recent pieces that focus on the more contemporary issues relevant to the course.

As a field so closely connected to contemporary issues and society, this text provides a good option for providing students general information that can be enhanced with discussion of contemporary issues. For instance, the section on "Racialized, Gendered, and Sexualized Labor in the Global Economy," could be augmented by inclusion of new studies on the gendered impact of the pandemic on employment.

The book is clearly written and includes short videos and pictures which make it more engaging. Terms and concepts are defined in ways that students should be able to understand.

The text provides a consistent approach to the course materials. The first two units offer primarily foundational concepts and terminology. They are followed by two units that reveal how those concepts work within various structures or settings (institutions, culture, systems). Finally, students receive a brief and general history of social movements that have advanced feminist or other relevant causes.

The book is well-organized. The availability of both online and downloaded versions of the text increase access for students. Including page numbers in the table of contents and removing links connected to unit headings that do not lead to additional information would help with navigation.

While I assigned the history of the text before I assigned the units on institutions and on the economy, it makes sense that others might prefer the existing order. The structure allows for assignment of units in any order or interspersed with other materials and readings.

The book's interface was easy to navigate. The videos and images appeared as they should. The only minor item would be removing links to unit headings that only lead to another page containing that unit heading. It really doesn't pose an issue to student access or understanding.

The book did not contain grammatical or typographical errors in a way that was noticeable or impeded student understanding. Overall, the textbook provided clear introduction to the field of women, gender, and sexuality studies.

This book includes a diversity of women's lived experiences and provides framing feminist concepts such as intersectionality. It strives to have students consider privilege, systems of oppression, and diversity of experience.

Reviewed by Sydney Hart, Professor, City Colleges of Chicago on 5/27/22

This short text (135 pages) can easily be paired with a reader or selected articles and videos. The authors acknowledge that it is an introduction which briefly covers most of the topics and concepts typically taught in a WGSS course. The authors... read more

This short text (135 pages) can easily be paired with a reader or selected articles and videos. The authors acknowledge that it is an introduction which briefly covers most of the topics and concepts typically taught in a WGSS course. The authors are sociologists and the book maintains a sociological perspective throughout, making it ideal for an interdisciplinary (WGSS) course or a disciplinary (sociology) course. It is missing a few ideas that I would have liked, for example West and Zimmerman's "Doing Gender" which was a foundational article in the discipline, a discussion of the "Other," Collins' notion of "controlling images," and Hoschchild's "second shift." A brief survey of the three main sociological theories (Conflict, Structural Functionalism, and Symbolic Interactionism) would have been helpful for a sociology course but distracting for a WGSS course; it does do a great job with essential sociological terms. I would have also like to have seen a little more emphasis on the historical constructions of gender and sexuality and a little more on queer theory. I was thrilled, however, to see many concepts like multiple masculinities included. Finally, the text is fully intersectional along the lines of race, gender, sexuality, social/economic class, and ability/disability.

Content Accuracy rating: 5

The text is highly accurate and more up-to-date than I expected given it was published in 2017. It takes a broad approach yet still manages to include some nuanced discussion of critical ideas. I was also very happy with the depth and breadth of authors included.

Relevance/Longevity rating: 4

A lot has happened in the world of WGSS, sociology of sex and gender, and the world since this book was written, including the probable and devastating loss of Roe v. Wade. Policy changes have affected many areas of life, but are easily brought in with outside readings or lecture. Additional identity-describing vocabulary has been coined, but why we need this vocabulary is carefully explained in the text. The text includes foundational concepts that allow instructors to frame more current changes. I was happily surprised by the currency of this 5-year old (as of this writing) text.

Like many textbooks that are charged with covering a breadth of material in a short space, this one sometimes reads like a glorified dictionary. It is clear and, with the possible exception of the two different ways of describing "structure" and "social structure," I think my community college students will find it highly accessible.

This book maintains a sociological framework and an intersectional focus in all of its five units. The tone and style are consistent throughout the text, making it easy and accessible to read.

The text has five short units ranging from 16-26 pages each. The brevity of the text provides ample opportunity for instructors to assign additional reading/video materials for discussion and to devote class time to learning activities, bringing in current events, expanding and renewing concepts, and adding ideas, information, and new ways of understanding. The brevity may present a challenge to professors who focus their teaching only on text-supported lecture.

The five units flow easily and logically from grounding the student in the discipline, to deconstructing hegemonic (binary) ideas about gender and sexuality, to examining inequalities overall, in specific institutions, and in a more fully realized focus on work. Ending the text on the history of feminist social movements allows the book to leave students with a sense of hope.

Interface rating: 3

The online version was perfect, but lacked page numbers. The pdf included page numbers, but some of the charts were not as easy to read. The video links were fine in both versions.

I did not notice any grammatical errors, although I was not reading to proofread.

Representation can always be improved but this text does an excellent job of being inclusive in its examples and in its citations.

There are benefits and drawbacks to a very short text. Be prepared to supplement.

Reviewed by April Terry, Associate Professor, Fort Hays State University on 12/8/21

The text covers an array of issues related to women, gender, and sexuality. I appreciate a focus on the criminalization of women throughout different political movements (e.g., War on Drugs) as well as global national and global issues. I believe... read more

The text covers an array of issues related to women, gender, and sexuality. I appreciate a focus on the criminalization of women throughout different political movements (e.g., War on Drugs) as well as global national and global issues. I believe to further understand women, gender, and sexuality, the text could include a focus on place/space; specifically, the text could be more comprehensive with information pertaining to women, gender, and viewpoints on sexuality in rural areas--further dissecting differences based on geography.

I did not uncover any information that seemed inaccurate or biased. The text accurately portrayed the research from a historical through modern perspective.

I believe the text does a nice job of providing a foundation, or starting point, for many of the topic areas. Stated another way, I view this text as a source that can start a class conversation but not provide students the opportunity to delve more deeply into the content. I perceive this as a strength and area for improvement--the strength being the information provided is brief and relevant which will result in a longer "shelf-life" but also not detailed enough to provide a 16-week semester course full of discussion.

The text is easy to follow and navigate. The wording is written appropriately for an undergraduate student.

The text retains a consistent tone and framework throughout each of the five units. The contributors provide terminology in bold, consistently, and maintain a a similar framework throughout each of the units.

I believe this is a major strength of the text. The units are easy to read and locate. Key terms and points are clearly identified and each unit has an obvious beginning and end with references provided after each unit (for additional assigned readings).

Organization/Structure/Flow rating: 4

While I do believe the organization makes sense, unit 4 is specific to gender and work in a global economy whereas the rest of the text speaks about women, gender, and sexuality from a broader context. Perhaps this unit would make more sense at the end of the text as more of a "special issue/topic" within the theme of the text. As a standalone unit, it seems specific given the nature of the text and possible use of the text.

The text provides mostly images outside of the provided text. Images are clear and easy to see with references to accompany each. I do wonder about accessibility issues and individuals who may rely on screen readers to interpret the text and images.

I did not uncover any grammatical errors.

The text provides a unit with a focus on culture, specifically. In addition to this unit, culture is noted in many other units as a byproduct of the topic itself--it would be difficult to speak about gender norms without referencing culture, for example.

I appreciate this text for use as a conversation-starter but feel it is short in nature and would require supplemental readings as well. If contributors were interested, I think this text could benefit from additional sub-topics related to women, gender, and sexuality.

Reviewed by Emily Westkaemper, Associate Professor, James Madison University on 8/22/21

This text’s emphasis on intersectionality helps make it comprehensive. Although focused over all on U.S. examples, the text refers to global contexts and examples as well. The text draws from multiple disciplines. Rather than isolating terms in a... read more

Comprehensiveness rating: 3 see less

This text’s emphasis on intersectionality helps make it comprehensive. Although focused over all on U.S. examples, the text refers to global contexts and examples as well. The text draws from multiple disciplines. Rather than isolating terms in a glossary, this textbook provides narrative definitions, with much of the text focused on explaining terms. I think this would be an especially useful format for online learning and for students who will be using e-books. There is not an index, but the unit subheading titles function to help locate topics, and the search tool in the e-book can help with locating topics. Some of the examples brought up to illustrate terms are covered with very brief descriptions, and introductory-level students might not understand the context behind these examples without doing further research.

This text presents its information accurately.

This text’s explanation that terminology and practices are contested and evolve (such as in the Identity Terms section) is an important point. Readers could consider how scholarly approaches can change over time and can vary based on context. Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies is a field in which new theories, methodological developments, and information can emerge quickly. The structure of providing definitions of core concepts while acknowledging that approaches can vary is a useful one that could make the text relevant over a long period of time. It’s possible that new terms and frameworks will become important in the field, and instructors could ask students to think about how recent events and recent scholarship are relevant to the material in the textbook. Drafting new material to supplement this text could be an assignment.

I found the writing very clear and think it would be readable for introductory students. This clarity in descriptions of theory and terms is very useful.

Consistency rating: 4

The text is coherent. I thought it could be beneficial to have some further explanation of the logic behind the topic organization and order. This could help provide further insight on the underlying frameworks. Some of the examples presented as sidebars are shorter and structured differently than others.

Modularity rating: 4

The length of text for each section of the e-book is a good length that does not seem too long for reading online. Some of the practices for referencing other sections of the text (referring to a page number where the topic was previously covered) aren’t directly relevant for reading in the e-book format, where page numbers aren’t visible. However, the search function can help with locating the topics.

If an instructor wanted to assign components of the text in a different order than they appear, the syllabus would likely need to include links to each section as well as to the section of references at the end of each unit. I thought it could have been useful for references to appear directly on each unit subsection.

The table of contents and search function make topics easy to locate, but it could be beneficial to have some further explanation of the logic behind the topic organization and selection of topics for the units. I think the decisions to begin the text with a section on theoretical frameworks and to end the text with a section on activism were sound.

The arrow icons used to advance through successive sections are consistent throughout the text, making it easy to page through the sections. It is useful that the contents menu and the search bar remain in place in the banner at the top of each e-book section. Some readers would likely appreciate the opportunity provided to save the full text as a pdf.

The writing and grammar are successful.

This text applies an intersectional approach and includes diverse examples. The examples draw heavily from the U.S. context, and many other textbooks in the field have that same emphasis. It could be useful to include more examples from outside the U.S.

Further explanation would be useful in some parts of the textbook narrative. For example, in the 19th Century Feminist Movements section of Unit V, there is some summary of a subject analyzed in recent scholarship on the history of gender: evidence that white activists deployed stereotypes and distorted a Sojourner Truth speech in publicizing a printed version of the text. While this textbook explains that “white suffragists dramatically changed [the speech’s] content and title,” some further explanation would be useful to clarify for readers who have not studied this subject what the nature of those changes were and what they suggest about histories of biases, privileges, and oppressions. In the brief explanation provided, a reader might not understand this overarching significance. While brevity of the textbook could be positive for many instructors who will want to combine this text with more detailed, full essays and primary sources, it would be useful to have more explanation of some of the examples that are included. The “Social Construction of Heterosexuality” section is a sidebar that, comparatively, includes further detail in the form of historical context, but I thought that some brief additional explanation of James Kiernan’s career and positionality would help.

To encourage readers to seek further information, it could also be useful to provide more references within the text. In the “Theorizing Lived Experiences” section of Unit I there is a sidebar about maquiladoras to illustrate “How Macro Structures Impact People.” The explanations given for this example could provide an opportunity for readers to do some of their own analysis; however, no sources are provided, and the references listed at the end of the unit don’t give a clear indication of where the information on that topic could be found. Similarly, in the description of the “one-drop rule” as an example of social constructionism, providing more citations could help students understand the topic and help them conduct further research.

The brevity of this text could be beneficial in many instructional settings when a professor has additional readings to go in depth on topics; but the structure of this text doesn’t provide clear indication to readers, for some of the topics, of sources that would be most beneficial for further research.

If an instructor wanted students to read basic definitions of terms on a particular topic, this is a text that could be easily excerpted: there would not be a need for students to read whole units or the whole book in order to understand individual pages/ subsections, and this could be very useful for many courses. The topics covered in this text could become the basis for further research and analysis by students, giving a lot of possibilities for students to identify topics that interest them.

Reviewed by Erin Mysogland, Adjunct Lecturer, Pace University on 8/11/21

This text is excellent for an entry level course in women and gender studies. Unit I clearly and succinctly lays out key terms and theories. Terms continue to be defined throughout the text and are bolded for accessibility. If anything, the... read more

Comprehensiveness rating: 5 see less

This text is excellent for an entry level course in women and gender studies. Unit I clearly and succinctly lays out key terms and theories. Terms continue to be defined throughout the text and are bolded for accessibility. If anything, the text is a bit heavy on definitions and could have included more in-depth case studies to support readers in applying the terms. That being said, additional resources could easily supplement where real life examples are lacking. Terms and theories are defined in such a way that would be inviting to both first-year students as well as students with more experience in the field. For instance, the discussion of the terms “disabled people” vs. “people with disabilities” can show students how terminology is not stagnant and is informed by lived experiences. The text’s discussion of “assemblage” could similarly allow for nuanced conversations about the benefits and shortcomings of the framework of intersectionality.

The content reflects up to date research and although it draws most heavily on sociology, it takes an interdisciplinary approach to define identity terms and apply them to social institutions, power structures, and feminist movements. References are included after every unit.

The text not only reflects recent research but offers references to popular culture that make the text inviting. Videos and other embedded external resources serve to support the presentation of this content in a contemporary manner. However, the clear explanations provided with all theory and cultural references will allow the text to be relevant for years to come.

The text is easy to follow and is free from unnecessary jargon. All terms are well defined and are accessible across different levels of familiarity with the field.

The text is consistent in its use of intersectionality as a framework. The text introduces and applies the work of feminist scholars throughout, allowing for a consistent exploration and application of intersectional feminist scholarship and praxis.

Clear organization and consistent use of well-defined key terminology allows the text to be read in its entirety or in smaller segments. While the text flows from one section to the next, progressing from definitions to analysis of institutions and social movements, sections can easily stand on their own.

The text progresses logically, beginning with definitions and ending with a historical analysis of feminist movements that applies many key ideas from the text. A brief conclusion at the end of the text may have aided readers in reviewing main ideas, but the text remains strong because of the clarity and organization throughout.

Interface rating: 4

The text is easy to navigate digitally and the imbedded images, videos, and links all function. While some images serve to enhance the text, others do not add to the written content. For instance, the image of convict leasing included in the section on the prison system introduced a complex practice without providing the necessary context in the text. Nevertheless, the text’s interface is free from issues that may challenge reader’s comprehension.

I did not identify any grammatical errors.

By adopting an intersectional lens from the start the text is able to model inclusivity and cultural sensitivity. In fact, it serves as a model for accessible intersectional scholarship. That being said, the text draws heavily on the US context. At times the US focus serves to limit the presentation of key ideas. For instance, the section that chronicles the social construction of race did not offer a recognition of the role that European colonialism and global capitalism played in constructing ideas including scientific racism and ideas about black pathology, as described in the text. There are bright spots in the text’s international analysis, including a multilevel analysis of maquiladoras along the US-Mexico border. Used in conjunction with external resources that adopt more of an international focus, these instances of international analysis present in the text are certainly adequate for introducing students to global applications of theory from the field of women and gender studies.

Reviewed by Jennifer Miller, Lecturer, University of Texas at Arlington on 12/13/20

The book is quite comprehension, but it lacks depth and case studies to help students understand the significance of and context for terms introduced. It needs to be supplemented with more detailed work on ideas introduced. It does what it does... read more

The book is quite comprehension, but it lacks depth and case studies to help students understand the significance of and context for terms introduced. It needs to be supplemented with more detailed work on ideas introduced. It does what it does very well, but instructors should expect to use this text as a foundation they must build on to give students a comprehensive introduction to the field.

Definitions are accurate and accessible. They provide an essential vocabulary for thinking about and discussing gender and sexuality.

The textbook introduces students to key words and ideas that may be expanded on and changed in the future, but will remain a necessary component of any introductory course in the field.

The text is well written with accessible prose.

The text is written and formatted consistently to help readers follow the material presented.

The text can be used flexibly to meet the needs of different courses and course designs. I also see this used in introductory sociology courses, perhaps even introductory literature courses; although not in its entirety. The text does a very good job introducing key ideas that can be used to shape conversations.

Key words and ideas are clustered in a logical format that will allow instructors to pair excerpts with more in depth studies and/or cultural texts to elucidate context and significance.

I found the text easy to navigate. Links to outside sources seem to work and add interest. They can be assigned for homework or introduced in class to prompt discussion.

I didn't identify any grammatical issues.

The text is inclusive of racial and ethnic differences. Multiple gender and sexual identities are identified and discussed accurately. Disability terminology is also introduced.

I think this is a significant resource for instructors teaching introductory gender and sexuality studies courses. It will also be useful for those teaching sociology, literature, and other cultural texts.

Reviewed by Francesca Calamita, Assistant Professor, University of Virginia on 11/28/20

For an intro level, this is an ideal book, however it requires other materials to be added for the class. It is good also if you teach a class for two depts, such as a cross-listed course, with easy and quick explanations students who are not... read more

For an intro level, this is an ideal book, however it requires other materials to be added for the class. It is good also if you teach a class for two depts, such as a cross-listed course, with easy and quick explanations students who are not majoring/minoring in WGS might need to consult.

I did not find any errors. I would therefore say it is very accurate and relevant.

Some basic ideas will be considered at the base of the discipline also in the future, yet updates will become necessary with time,

Clear, immediate and easy to read.

It is very consistent too.

It is easy to follow. It depends on how you will organise your course, you might need to go back and forward but in general it is well organised and the material is easy to find.

Well organised and easy to consult.

I didn't come across any particular issues.

Great, I did not find any mistakes.

It is a good starting point for basic WGS topics, yet strongly anchored in the US-context, so it might benefits from transnational references in the future.

I think I will use it this spring to help students in a cross-listed class to review some basic topics. We might suggest some transnational references.

Reviewed by Erin Boyce, Full Time Faculty, Metropolitan State University of Denver on 8/9/20

This book covers a lot of information, minimally. This is sufficient because it is an introduction book and gives students a good base and framework and has been relatively easy to supplement with some more in depth resources. read more

This book covers a lot of information, minimally. This is sufficient because it is an introduction book and gives students a good base and framework and has been relatively easy to supplement with some more in depth resources.

I have not come across any information that I feel is inaccurate or misrepresented. It is a book related to Women and Gender issues, to it is difficult to say it is unbiased; however, I think this is expected and reasonable based on the content.

The course this book is being used for had not used a text book previously, this introductory text is current, easily readable, and could be easily updated with more relevant external resources as time moves on.

Clarity rating: 4

The book is very straightforward; however, in it's effort to be succinct and to the point, some context can be lost. It requires a strong course agenda to supplement the chapters with more in depth readings.

This book is clear in its intention from beginnnig to end.

This book is divided up well. I jumped around in how it's implemented in my course and didn't use it from start to finish, but met the needs of each module it was applicable to.

As noted before, the organization was different than the course was designed, but each chapter does stand alone making it easy to reorganize to meet the course agenda.

No issues, all links and external resources were working. Easy to open, access, and search for content.

None that I observed.

This book takes an intersectional perspective that is very inclusive of many races, ethnicities, and gender backgrounds.

I am excited to implement this Fall in my classes and look forward to getting feedback from my students on their thoughts on how it affected thier learning.

gender studies essays

Reviewed by Mikkilynn Olmsted, Senior Lecturer, Metropolitan State University of Denver on 7/24/20

Units I and II are comprehensive yet easy-to-follow glossary-heavy chapters on gender and women's studies. I especially like the multimedia examples. The latter chapters, most especially Unit III and Unit IV, are less comprehensive. The... read more

Units I and II are comprehensive yet easy-to-follow glossary-heavy chapters on gender and women's studies. I especially like the multimedia examples. The latter chapters, most especially Unit III and Unit IV, are less comprehensive. The presentation on gendered and interpersonal violence was based on outdated research, even for the e-book's 2017 publication date. Supplemental materials would be needed to cover the more specific subsections presented in Unit IV's survey of "gender and the economy."

On the whole, this publication offers insightful interpretations of gender studies. Students will benefit from the intersectional, multiple-perspectives presented in each unit as that represents today's academic field and today's social justice movements. The presentation on, interpersonal violence, gender assault, and rape survivors within the US criminal justice systems needs updating.

Relevance/Longevity rating: 3

The world has changed quite a bit since 2017; yet, I would feel confident in assigning all of Units I and II and sections of the other units along with supplemental materials that discuss gender studies and social justice movements in 2020. There appears an unusual emphasis on the George Bush administration, which dates the materials.

The beginning of the e-book employs introductory language and vocabulary easy for students to understand and memorize. With each unit, the amount of academic discourse increases. The last unit presents most similarly to an upper-level academic seminar paper. This gradual increase in complexity may fit nicely with a gradual increase in rigor over a semester.

The terminology fits the field, although I would have liked to see additional terms such as Black Lives Matter and sex trafficking.

Unit III and Unit IV could be their own publications. The number of topics covered in these two units results in superficial summary for some and in near misrepresentation for others. I would prefer emphasis on smaller chapters for each of the subjects or expanding the whole e-book to more fully present these subjects.

Organization/Structure/Flow rating: 3

Introducing key vocabulary and theory makes sense for Units I and II. Unit V, a historical review of feminism, appears too late. There are multiple reminder references to the previous units, in fact, which would be unnecessary if history was presented earlier.

There are no navigational or interface issues.

I saw no grammar errors of note.

This is a grand plus of this publication - it is intersectional and post-colonial. Several transnational feminist scholars' ideas appear in the latter units.

This is a solid resource to cover the basic components of gender studies and the history of feminism. I would recommend assigning it as required reading during the early days of an introductory women's and gender studies course.

Reviewed by Charlotte Haller, Professor, Worcester State University on 6/29/20

The book is definitely geared to an introductory level. Each chapter is very, very short (as in a page or so). The number of topics covered work well for an introductory class, though, and the shortness is a benefit for faculty who want to... read more

The book is definitely geared to an introductory level. Each chapter is very, very short (as in a page or so). The number of topics covered work well for an introductory class, though, and the shortness is a benefit for faculty who want to incorporate a range of other kinds of readings. The textbook alone would not provide sufficient material to teach a class (which is good, in my opinion, because we shouldn't rely on textbooks like that).

There were no errors that I detected in the textbook. The material is presented in an appropriate, matter-of-fact way.

Because this textbook has an "Attribution" license ("This license lets others distribute, remix, adapt, and build upon your work, even commercially, as long as they credit you for the original creation. This is the most accommodating of licenses offered. Recommended for maximum dissemination and use of licensed materials."), I am planning in future courses to have students add to and adapt the textbook to reflect their current concerns and understandings. There were a couple of places in the textbook where I found the use of a particular sociological jargon (for instance, SNAF - Standard North American Family) to be jarring and giving a sense of a common use of a term that isn't commonly used. In the future, I might just delete that reference so that students can focus on the many helpful definitions and commonly-used terms in WGSS.

This is a real strength of the textbook. I really appreciate how the authors really slow down and explain unfamiliar terms or concepts clearly and concisely. This is a textbook that is clearly grounded in the teaching of Introduction to Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies and is presented in a way that is understandable and useful for undergraduates without a lot of background in the subject.

The organization is very clear and well-organized. The terms used are consistent.

Each section is very short and could be easily reorganized to reflect the course structure. In fact, faculty used to a more conventional textbook, where chapters build on one another and there is an effort at narrative continuity might find this textbook overly choppy, but that is clearly the intention as it allows the textbook to be chopped up and re-ordered relatively easily.

Given the short chapters, and the clear subheadings and framework, this is a textbook that is very easy to navigate and understand the general flow and organization.

The online reading interface is a little clunky, but once you get used to it, it's fine. Because of the modularity, sometimes when you click from the drop-down menu to a new section, the page will be blank, but you need to click an arrow at the bottom left to get to the next page that has text. The online version has hyperlinks, which consistently worked well.

I did not see any grammatical errors.

Cultural Relevance rating: 4

This is a U.S.-centric text, though there are some attempts at broader global contextualization. Widening the lens could be great project either for students or a faculty member using this text as a launching-off point.

I used this text in an Intro to WGSS class before I fully understood OER resources. I found it to be, as expected, a helpful textbook that got students oriented to concepts that we then covered more in depth in class. Now that I have participated in an (excellent) training on OER, I better understand how valuable this kind of textbook is, have a great appreciation for the chosen format, and am excited in the future to use it to support not just free textbooks for students, but actual open pedagogy and engagement with students to create a textbook that works for them and reflects them.

Reviewed by Nishant Upadhyay, Assistant Professor, University of Colorado Boulder on 6/11/20

This is by far the most comprehensive intro to WGS text I have seen. Most texts are outdated and rely on older feminist writings with very little contemporary content. I like the way themes are introduced and organized - would work quite well for... read more

This is by far the most comprehensive intro to WGS text I have seen. Most texts are outdated and rely on older feminist writings with very little contemporary content. I like the way themes are introduced and organized - would work quite well for intro classes. Key words and concepts are well-defined and would be accessible to most students. As an intro text, it does a good job of introducing key sites of feminist engagement and critiques - from the family to state to medical complex to prison industrial complex to sweatshops. It exposes students to wide range of conversations. Many of these conversations will have to complimented with other external sources, but the text provides a key foundation. The text is intersectional from the first section itself, unlike the last text I used where intersectionality came on page 465. However, I would suggest naming black feminists and feminisms right when intersectionality is introduced first. As the authors note, the text heavily lies on sociology. Given how interdisciplinary WGS is, I think it does need more interdisciplinary content.

Overall the content is accurate. I like the use of videos, and suggest more videos as we go further along in the text. More examples are needed, but perhaps they can be added as supplementary materials by the instructors.

Unlike most intro to WGS texts, this text brings in trans and disability as key analytics and seeks to be as updated as possible with language and terminology. This is highly commendable. Disability Studies and Trans Studies are rapidly changing and re-defining Gender and Feminist Studies, and most conventional text books have failed to keep up with the interventions made by these fields. More importantly, both fields are engaged as foundational to WGS not as an after-thought.

For a text with limited number of pages, it's impressive that it remains so clear and sharp throughout. The authors introduce very complex ideas in accessible ways - probably the biggest highlight of the book. The text introduce terms like postcolonial, decoloniality, and homonationalism, which is quite remarkable. I assume these terms may still be very difficult for students but I appreciate that they are introduced in the text.

The framework and format is very consistent, which makes the text more accessible and easy to navigate.

This is one of the strongest aspects of the text. It's neatly organized and easy to navigate. Different chapters can be assigned on their own without the need to use the entire text.

I am impressed by the organization and flow of the text. The text engages with many complicated ideas yet its easy to access and navigate.

I liked the options of engaging with the text on multiple platforms. They are easy to switch and allows for a smooth reading and viewing.

Well-edited throughout.

Cultural Relevance rating: 3

While the text is not necessarily insensitive or offensive, it is very specific to the US context with very limited engagement with the global south (even though it does focus on the global south). It does a good job in centering African American/Black feminisms - which is much much needed in most WGS textbooks. However, there is no engagement with Indigenous feminists and questions of settler colonialism and Indigenous decolonization. Furthermore, experiences and works of other women of color and immigrant women, specifically Chicana and Muslim women, are glaringly absent from the text. More generally, colonialism and imperialism needs to be centered more. Lastly, points around Brazilians not being considered Latinx in the US and experiences of Black folks in Brazil is not contextualized thoroughly and needs more complex engagement.

Reviewed by Kristi Fondren, Professor and Chair, Marshall University on 4/17/20

The text appears to cover necessary content for an introductory level course in women, gender, and sexuality studies. Key terms are embedded within the chapters and in bold font which makes them easily identifiable for the reader. Examples are... read more

The text appears to cover necessary content for an introductory level course in women, gender, and sexuality studies. Key terms are embedded within the chapters and in bold font which makes them easily identifiable for the reader. Examples are then provided. The text begins with key terms and perspectives before moving on to inclusion and intersectionality and pluralities regarding identity, the impact of institutions and structures on identity, work and the economy - in the U.S. and abroad, and ends with historical and more recent social movements.

The content of the text appears to be accurate in terms of its content and coverage of material. I did not notice any content errors upon my first reading. Text is unbiased and inclusive in its coverage of content and identities.

Given that it's been a few years since I've taught our sex and gender course, I appreciate that the text is up-to-date, particularly recognizing multiple gender identities and pluralities compared to older versions of similar textbooks. As society continues to transform, the text, as written, appears to be set up in a way that would be easy to update.

The tone of the text is scholarly, with references cited and provided, yet accessible to an audience outside of academia. Students will appreciate how succinct and straightforward the chapters are written.

The text is easy to navigate. Chapters are organized in the same manner (i.e., key terms in bold font, full references at the end) which will make it friendly to use. The text does not jump all over the place which is nice. The textbook as a whole is organized in a way that makes sense, beginning with key terms and perspectives, moving to identities and institutions, and ending with social movements.

I appreciate how the text is written in such a way that it is direct and to the point. Key terms are defined and supported with examples. There are visuals for each reading and in nearly all, if not all, chapters a video component. Text could be used in the order that the material is presented or it allows itself to be used as supplemental material to other readings.

The textbook is will organized. Material is presented in a logical, clear fashion. If anything, I initially thought it odd the work and the economy had its own chapter; however, since nearly everyone has experience with this institution, I do find the chapter appropriate for the text.

I had no problems with navigation and found the pdf version to be very easy to navigate. Images and charts were clear as were the video components, though one was initially unavailable. However, I was able to access it at a later time.

I did not notice any grammatical errors. Text is well-written.

I found the text to be inclusive of not only gender identities and pluralities, but inclusive when it comes to discussing race, ethnicity, and cultural backgrounds.

I plan to use this book as a supplement to research monographs. I find that non-majors who take our upper level sex and gender class could benefit from a textbook that provides key terminology. Our majors generally do not need something like that; however, this text would be a good resource for them as well. I would recommend it, but not require it. Since it's easily accessible to them, I imagine all would appreciate having this text as a point of reference.

Reviewed by Christiana Paradis, Adjunct Professor, Susquehanna University on 3/20/20

I thought that this is a good introduction to a textbook, but it would be helpful if it was a bit more comprehensive. There is no mention of the fourth "wave" of feminism, nor the impacts on the labor rights movement and anti-lynching movements... read more

I thought that this is a good introduction to a textbook, but it would be helpful if it was a bit more comprehensive. There is no mention of the fourth "wave" of feminism, nor the impacts on the labor rights movement and anti-lynching movements that directly impacted the first and second waves. I thought each of the topics introduced in the third section was helpful, but not as comprehensive as they could be. You would need to assign a variety of supplemental readings in addition to this text to meet your benchmarks for this course.

Overall the information provided was concise and accurate.

I think the text is definitely relevant and content is mostly up to date, but there are sections that could be more up to date in regards to changing legislation under our current presidential leadership and ever evolving understanding of gender and sexuality issues within the LGBTQ+ community.

Text was clear and straight forward.

Consistent section to section in terms of language. The beginning of the text had more opportunity for video links and hyperlinks which seem to taper off as the text moves forward.

It would be very easy to assign pieces of text from this book.

The topics seem slightly out of order to me. The first and second sections are perfectly in line, but the change to focusing on the workplace and other feminist issues and then circling back to feminist history seems a bit awkward. If I was assigning readings from the text I would assign section I, II, IV, and III.

Several charts are distorted. Some of the image choices seem very odd to me. I loved the beginning of the text where it was broken up via recommended videos, I would prefer that remain throughout rather than transition to photos that didn't always coincide with context of the text.

Text was well written.

The text wasn't culturally insensitive, but I felt that some of the image choices could have been more appropriate and culturally relevant.

If I can find all my supplemental readings online I would consider switching to this open text, but would like to see it expanded and organized a bit better.

Reviewed by Sarah Hastings, Professor, Radford University on 1/31/20

This text addresses the majority of topic areas covered in an introductory course in Women's and Gender Studies. Key words and concepts were clearly identified in bold font. Headings were mostly descriptive. At times, I wasn't sure what content... read more

This text addresses the majority of topic areas covered in an introductory course in Women's and Gender Studies. Key words and concepts were clearly identified in bold font. Headings were mostly descriptive. At times, I wasn't sure what content might follow a particular heading, but all content was ultimately found to be relevant and easily comprehensible. Embedded videos will be appreciated by students. The units largely aligned with other texts I have used in class and covered the main overarching topics including social structures and institutions, matrices of power, work, gender roles, women's bodies, health, and historical movements.

Material seemed accurate throughout. Chapters were objectively written. Language was inclusive and free of bias. I saw nothing that prompted me to question whether information was accurately reported or represented. A reference section follows each of the five units, and citations are included throughout the text.

Content was up to date. The discipline is one in which rapid social change impacts the material covered year to year. Terms become outdated, new court decisions come down, and current events impact how we approach content in the classroom. I have used several printed texts for an introductory Women's & Gender Studies course that seemed out of date in sections. An advantage of an electronic text (that I had not fully considered before) is the ability to update rather easily, rather than having to wait for a new edition to be printed.

This was a particular area of strength for this text. The language was exceptionally straightforward, and as noted above, bolded font helps the reader identify key concepts and flag ideas for further study. The section dealing with third wave and queer feminist movements was particularly clear in comparison with other texts I have used. Likewise, the section titled Racialized, Gendered, and Sexualized labor in the Global Economy, did a good job of explaining ideas that can be difficult for undergraduate students to grasp. This section was brief--possibly too brief--but it offered the basics that instructors can use as a springboard to link with other resources.

The book was consistent throughout. Ideas built upon one another. Unit I serves as a sound introduction to the remaining units and offers a "view at 30,000 feet" to help the reader prepare to view the terrain below in closer detail. No inconsistencies were noted in terms of the information provided or the ideas discussed.

Reading sections are short and can be completed in one sitting. When reading the text online, the menu on the left hand side of the screen is easily navigable. In online format, there are no page numbers, so instructors may need to rely on headings to direct students to assigned passages. The downloadable pdf version of the text does have page numbers, and the videos are easily accessible, though watching them is not as streamlined as when reading the book online. Switching back and forth between the two formats was not difficult especially with two screens.

The book is organized in a manner similar to other women's and gender studies texts I have used. The book lends itself well to asynchronous or hybrid courses that are often organized by modules, and would easily map onto a five module online format. Intuitively, one might expect to find the section on historical movements first rather than last, but my experience is that most textbooks in the discipline structure material placing historical information last. Once students are introduced to key topics in the field and invited to consider the impact of social structures and systems of power on women's lives, then they are more equipped to look at social movements and individual figures who responded to the forces in their particular historical context.

Embedded videos are engaging and images are clear and colorful. Pages are formatted well throughout. The book can be downloaded or read online.

No grammatical errors were noted. The text flowed well. Sentence structure was engaging. Content was easily gleaned in read-through.

The text used inclusive language throughout. Images and examples used helped the book avoid relying exclusively on a Eurocentric perspective. No offensive or culturally insensitive language was noted.

I am planning to use this book in my class next fall. I will supplement with additional material, particularly writings by women that reflect their lived experiences. However, I was pleased this book offers a solid foundation that will help ground students in the key concepts that sometimes get lost in lengthier texts.

Reviewed by Karen Scarpella, Part-time faculty, Aims Community College on 7/29/19

This textbook is designed to be a simple and structured outline for a course. It is “comprehensive” in that it covers many of the standard topics. The depth of each section is superficial. The benefit of this is that it is a nice outline to add... read more

This textbook is designed to be a simple and structured outline for a course. It is “comprehensive” in that it covers many of the standard topics. The depth of each section is superficial. The benefit of this is that it is a nice outline to add additional materials as each instructor prefers.

Terms are presented in bold with an accessible explanation and definition. However, there is not a glossary or index. The table of contents provides an outline of subjects covered.

Content Accuracy rating: 3

Content accuracy appears to be acceptable. However, an unbiased and conservative counter-view is not presented. For example, the section on transgender does not present the argument that this is not believed to be legitimate by some.

Content is presented in a way that will easily be updated as information changes over time.

Possibly the most positive critique is that this text is written in clear, concise, and accessible language for undergraduate students reading this kind of material for the first time.

There is no evidence that this was written by multiple authors. The tenor and voice remain consistent throughout.

The textbook and its sections are divided into smaller subunits that appear to be easily consumed without intimidating lengths for undergrad students. The sections would seem to be flexible and able to be moved around to suit individual instructors and course objectives.

The textbook is organized in a similar fashion to other contemporary Introduction to Women’s Studies textbooks. However, it continues to pose the issue that students may grow impatient while waiting to get to Women’s historical challenges and accomplishments.

The textbook seems easily used and has unbroken links in the online version. The section forwarding is located at the bottom of the page and initially difficult to see.

The text contains no grammatical errors.

The text is not culturally insensitive or offensive in any way. They did a nice job of integrating and highlighting the experiences and impact of black women in our history. However, the book could be further improved by including more examples and history of other marginalized groups.

Reviewed by Kirsten Olsen, Sociology Instructor, Anoka-Ramsey Community College on 6/28/19

Assuming that an instructor is looking for a basic introductory book, this book will likely work quite well. It briefly introduces many concepts in an accessible way but does not provide much depth or detail. So many textbooks are too in-depth... read more

Assuming that an instructor is looking for a basic introductory book, this book will likely work quite well. It briefly introduces many concepts in an accessible way but does not provide much depth or detail. So many textbooks are too in-depth for a 1000-level course, and this might fill a niche for instructors looking for a very basic introductory book so that they can tailor the course (additional readings, activities, assignments, etc.) to their specific course objectives. I think it would be difficult to use this book if you are new to teaching and do not have the background knowledge or resources to supplement it effectively. However, this book would like likely work for seasoned professors who have been teaching gender studies for quite some time. As a sociologist, I wish there was a bit more sociological theory in the textbook, but then the audience would likely be too narrow. I also wish the book would have included the educational system as a social institution and incorporated Title IX and sex education as topics. There is no glossary, no index, and no list key terms at the end of each unit, all of which I think are helpful for first year students.

My only concern is that some students may see the Huffington Post citations, immediately dismiss the course content, and stop learning. On the other hand, there are many topics in gender and sexuality courses that challenge students, so this may not be much of an issue in the grand scheme of things.

Material seems to be quite up-to-date and easy to change in future editions. I recommend adding gender non-conforming, matrix of domination, and femininities to the next version.

The text is written at an appropriate level for first year college students who do not have a background in sociology or gender and sexuality studies.

Like many introductory textbooks, this textbook effectively incorporates key terms by bolding them. However, there is a lack of consistency in how clear the definitions are. Sometimes the definitions are very clear, whereas the meanings of some key terms were more subtly integrated into the text. I assume this would be frustrating for students.

The text is broken up into sections that are so small that it will almost surely keep students’ attention. On the flip side, such short sections can make the textbook seem choppy, especially if you are comparing it to traditional printed textbooks.

Many textbooks only talk about feminisms at the end of the textbook. I like that this textbook briefly introduces students to feminisms in Unit I and then goes into further detail in Unit V. The main thing that I would change is to add a Unit Summary or ‘Bringing it All Together’ section at the end of each unit.

I mainly reviewed a printed copy of the text because I retain more information that way. Luckily my college will print a paper for students at very low cost. As a result, I only looked at some of the charts and links online. However, the amount of material for each section makes the online reading tolerable, and that means a lot coming from someone like me who hates reading online. If the chapters were extensive, it would be too cumbersome to read the online version. Given the brevity of the text, the online version would work fairly well.

I only noticed one error.

The book does a decent job of explaining that terminology, identities, content, and perspectives will continue to evolve. Examples are relatively diverse throughout the textbook, but the textbook could benefit from more diversity related to age and religious affiliation.

Reviewed by Stina Soderling, Instructor, Metropolitan State University of Denver on 5/7/19

As several reviewers have noted, this is not a comprehensive textbook. This, however, is not necessarily a weakness. The text provides definitions of important terms, and an introduction to some key topics and concepts. It can easily be... read more

As several reviewers have noted, this is not a comprehensive textbook. This, however, is not necessarily a weakness. The text provides definitions of important terms, and an introduction to some key topics and concepts. It can easily be supplemented with other sources in order to provide a more comprehensive introduction to Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies. Considering that there are varying views between institutions, and even individual instructors, of what an introductory WGSS course should cover, the flexibility that a minimalist textbook, paired with other materials, offers can be a benefit rather than a flaw. Again, as other reviewers have pointed out, the sociological training of all of the authors mean that other common approaches to WGSS are not adequately represented.

Yes, the content is accurate and error-free. In the field of WGSS, “unbiased” is not necessarily the most relevant category. The text does have a feminist bias, and this is a good thing.

The content is up-to-date. Because much terminology related to gender changes rather quickly, the book will most likely need updating every few years, but this would be the case for any textbook in the field.

The language is overall clear; however, brevity of the book at times comes at the expense of clarity and accessibility. For example, the chapter “Identity Terms” aims to define terms people use to identify themselves, such as “cis-gender” or “person of color.” The descriptions are accurate, but they do not provide much context. I can imagine using this chapter as a reference guide for students, but not as a tool for teaching the meaning of these terms.

Yes, the book is consistent in its terminology and framework.

The book is divided into five units, each made up of approximately five chapters. The chapters are all short, and can be assigned for one class session, even with the addition of other materials. The units could be assigned in a different order than how the book is organized, as each unit stands on its own. Individual chapters could also be assigned in a different order.

The two first units of the book are largely devoted to defining terms and concepts. While I can see the reasons behind this – giving students a common vocabulary for the course – it creates a disembodied feeling. The book ends with a unit on feminist history, which strikes me as a better starting point, giving students some basis for why they should care about all the terminology. But, as mentioned above, the units could easily be rearranged to fit the teaching approach of any given instructor or course.

Yes, the text is free of significant interface issues. It would be helpful if the table of contents at the beginning of the text were hyperlinked.

I did not find any grammatical errors in the text.

The authors have taken care to write a text that is culturally sensitive and not offensive. The text is consistently written from an intersectional perspective.

The text contains links to several YouTube videos. While these often contain useful content, YouTube videos are not accessible in terms of closed captioning.

Reviewed by Jessica Davidson, Associate Professor, James Madison University on 3/4/19

As an Introductory text, it covers essential points such as introduction to the field and discussion of key theory, challenging binary systems and looking at difference (sex/gender/sexuality system and race and class) and institutions, culture,... read more

As an Introductory text, it covers essential points such as introduction to the field and discussion of key theory, challenging binary systems and looking at difference (sex/gender/sexuality system and race and class) and institutions, culture, and structures. Despite its position as an introductory text, the final two units have a more specialized focus: one covers gender and work in the global market and the final unit is dedicated to feminist social movements (serves as the history/narrative of 19thc., 20thc, and third wave movements). It is a bit unclear why the last two units have their unique focus- gender and work in the global market, and feminist social movements. While both topics undoubtedly are important elements of the discipline, it is not evident why they are chosen as opposed to other central themes in the field, for example, women and health or women and politics. The unit on women and the global market seems a more advanced case study of the broader concepts established effectively in the first units. It is a departure from the slower paced incremental presentation of key concepts in earlier units. There is neither an index nor a glossary. At times, the text leans towards a sociology-centric conception of the field. It is unclear what advantage this discipline-specific approach offers especially considering the fundamentally interdisciplinary nature of women’s, gender, and sexuality studies.

To the best of my ability to assess, the content is accurate and error-free.

The text seems well positioned and up-to-date with opening photos of the Black Lives Matter March and the 2017 Women’s March in DC.

The text explains potentially complicated and confusing terms in a sensible and logical way that avoids alienating readers through too much jargon. The discussion in unit 1 of “identity terms” is particularly good. It introduces many new concepts/language in a simplified and comprehensible way, i.e. “people of color,” “non-binary,” “pansexual,” and “Intersectionality.” In unit III, the ubiquitous academic term “institution” is very well defined and applicable to disciplines outside of women’s, gender, and sexuality studies.

The text consistently uses the same terms and definitions throughout the units.

The text seems to lend itself to breaking up material into shorter readings. Units have brief introduction followed by several pages of text for each section within the unit.

The text is organized into 5 larger units that contain between 4-8 chapters/sections depending on the unit and a reference section at the end of each unit. The organization seems clearly laid out and explained. Unit 2 reads a bit choppy. While terms are well defined, there is little integration of them into the next section, or into a larger narrative that is emphasized throughout the unit.

The text effectively allows the reader to navigate easily from section to section without problems.

The text is written in a consistent and smooth style without grammatical errors or unclear prose.

The text presents an unclear balance of US content and global content. It leans towards a US focus especially in the final unit on feminist movements, which only covers the history of these movements in the United States. In the Third Wave feminism section there are few references to movements outside of the US. However, within the context of the US, the unit on feminist movements is impressively inclusive. The authors present a full picture the first wave of feminist movements in the US, including discussion of white and black activists.

While it is not the intent of the textbook to include primary sources and/or excerpts from key contributors to the field, an inclusion of one or two for each until would serve to exemplify the interdisciplinary nature of the field and encourage application of terms and concepts to the relevant readings.

Reviewed by Elizabeth Losh, Associate Professor, VIVA / William and Mary on 11/25/18

The text does a serviceable job citing key terms in an introductory course (essentialism, biological determinism, androcentrism, the gender binary, compulsory heterosexuality, heteronormativity, intersectionality, cult of domesticity, male gaze,... read more

The text does a serviceable job citing key terms in an introductory course (essentialism, biological determinism, androcentrism, the gender binary, compulsory heterosexuality, heteronormativity, intersectionality, cult of domesticity, male gaze, medicalization, eugenics, first wave/second wave/third wave, identity politics, etc.)

In particular, the glossary in chapter three performs important work to help students use appropriate language, so that students are not stigmatized after the gaffe of using a prejudicial term in an introductory course. Unfortunately, given its overview approach that emphasizes keywords, this textbook often truncates any discussion about why there might be controversy in the first place. This approach may also set a didactic tone that emphasizes correctness and thus discourages challenges. In other words, this textbook could use more extended examples like its discussion of the controversy about “person-first” language, which might serve as a useful class discussion point for a dialogic exchange.

Often this textbook feels more like an outline than a textbook. Some chapters are only a paragraph in length! Other topics whiz by without adequate elaboration. For example, in chapter four the important key term of “privilege” is glossed over too rapidly. A Creative Commons image of a sign-waving protestor on Flickr highlighting the phrase “privilege is when you think something is not a problem because it is not a problem to you personally” seems too pat for such a difficult talking point for undergraduates who tend to be sensitive and fear accusations from their peers. The equally important term “ally” is not presented at all. And in chapter five the quick parallelism between gender and race used to explain the term “social constructionism” might need more explanation given complex feelings that students might have about the Rachel Dolezal case or Instagrammers who make themselves appear Black. Given how the term “appropriation” is often an important one for these discussions, its absence is also noteworthy.

More case studies, stories, or extended examples would greatly improve readability. For example, the authors’ discussion of the history of the term “heterosexual” (and its early associations with deviance and the pursuit of sexual pleasure than reproduction) is useful for de-naturalizing heterosexuality. Although the section on women’s liberation movements offers some extended examples, it is strangely selective, especially given the textbook’s commitment to offering intersectional perspectives.

As others have pointed out the text may be limited by the disciplinary expertise of its authors who are all sociologists who bring sociological perspectives but lack training comparable to the “biologists, anthropologists, sociologists, historians, chemists, engineers, economists and researchers from just about any identifiable department” lauded in the introduction. Thus an analysis of social structures might be more likely to be privileged over issues of representation or performance in this textbook or draw upon philosophical questions about how epistemology, ontology, or metaphysics may inform discussions of gender and sexuality.

The absence of humanities perspectives might be particularly important for courses that explore questions about gender and media or sexuality and media from an aesthetic or cultural literacy perspective. For example, Judith Butler’s name appears only once without any other explanation, and other feminists who use examples from novels or films – like Sara Ahmed – are not cited at all.

As someone who studies digital culture, I was much less impressed with the cultural relevance of this textbook than other reviewers. Linking to the game Spent is an interesting move, but other free online games could be even more relevant examples of conversation starters about gender and sexuality. The chapter on media focuses on somewhat conventional examples from mainstream culture (Disney movies, sexist advertisements curated by Jean Kilbourne, etc.) and would be less useful for courses using queer cinema, queer games, or other non-heteronormative media texts.

Clarity rating: 3

Even though many young feminists are learning about feminism from online video channels and digital microcelebrities, relying on YouTube videos to provide key explanations undermines the clarity of the textbook. Embedded videos that aren’t dependent on external links might be preferable, as might more context for how a video should be watched and deconstructed. Many of these videos might actually confuse issues rather than simplify them, because the textbook tends to lack any explanation of who the vloggers are, what they represent, and the kinds of online performances they are known for. For example, Anita Sarkeesian’s work is presented as a mere vehicle for the Bechdel Test without introducing her profile as a target of GamerGate and a noted feminist critic of popular digital games. Similarly Franchesca Ramsey’s video about intersectionality, which leads to a broken link page, is inserted without unpacking the larger project of MTV’s Decoded. A key concept like intersectionality (and why white feminists might approach equal pay, criminalizing harassment, or reproductive rights differently from feminists of color) remains mysterious without the video link. Perhaps Kimberlé Crenshaw’s TED talk might be a more durable digital artifact in an online archive.

Topics that the authors don’t rely exclusively on a video to explain – such as the differences between micro, meso, and macro/global levels of analysis – were consequently more decipherable to readers and easier to apply in practice to examples that might be raised in class discussion. Unfortunately other topics that are described at an equal level of detail, such as scientific racism, are not clearly tied to the central topic of gender and sexuality, although the work of Patricia Hill Collins is used as a bridge.

Consistency rating: 3

There are points at which the textbook doesn’t seem to live up to its own feminist principles. It was difficult not to miss the irony of YouTube ads that played before the assigned content that often objectified women’s bodies and interrupted the consistency of the pedagogical experience.

Modularity rating: 3

Because the chapters were so short and undeveloped, it was difficult to imagine assigning a chapter in isolation. More modules about Latinx feminism or feminism from specific regions would be helpful for courses addressing global or transnational feminisms or feminisms that resist the Black/White binary. Modules about specific media platforms (broadcast television, print magazines, cinema, etc.) would also be helpful for courses that address representations of gender and sexuality.

Elements in the text often appear as listed rather than linked ideas, so that it was difficult to compare and contrast different approaches to the study of gender or sexuality in ways that might facilitate class discussion. Even when an interesting juxtaposition is suggested – such as the difference between “reproductive rights” and “reproductive justice” in the section on institutions – it is not adequately developed so that students can bring questions and comments to class.

The organization is designed so that the first section of the book covers core concepts, the second section of the book is devoted to binary categories as a form of structural critique, the third section of the book is devoted to institutions, including “family, marriage, media, medicine, law, education, the state, and work,” the forth section of the book covers “gender and work in the global economy,” and the fifth section is about “historical and contemporary feminist movements.” Placing the historical section last may be counterintuitive for many who write syllabi for introductory courses.

Having to navigate back to the modules each time a video is watched may be counterproductive for comprehension.

Although the textbook implies that media and visual images are important, they are only sprinkled sparsely through the pdf, which does not even include the cover image. The Creative Commons images selected often serve to demonstrate or illustrate a point rather than serve a potential objects of analysis for homework or in-class discussion. Some images (wine being decanted or books and a gavel) function more like clip art. Some of the images are at very low resolution and would have never been approved by a textbook art department, because they appear pixilated. On the other hand, for instructors who want to be able to update the curriculum easily with materials from the web or current events, this minimalism might be preferable.

As others have pointed out, proofreading of the volume ensures a professional presentation of the authors’ language.

Because this textbook foregrounds cultural sensitivity, this was not an issue, although the section on third wave feminism was not well organized and content might soon seem dated.

Because of its skeletal structure, this OER textbook would not be desirable for courses taught by faculty outside of GSWS departments or those without knowledge of feminist research communities. For example, graduate teaching assistants would probably need more guidance running classes with this textbook as a blueprint. As a tool to facilitate class discussion, it may often also be too rudimentary in telling too few stories or developing too few case studies to reconstitute essential fractures or tensions in contemporary feminist thought or robust talking points that students could bring to class without the lesson plan of the instructor.

The authors acknowledge that the textbook grows out of a single course (with a hierarchical professor/teaching assistant relationship that might tend to reproduce a single channel of knowledge) rather than the kind of cross-institutional interdisciplinary dialogue that characterizes WGS professional associations.

Reviewed by Rebecca Tolley, Professor, East Tennessee State University on 10/4/18

The authors' note that their intent with this textbook was creating an intersectional, interdisciplinary, anchoring reference text to be used in concert with other assigned readings, for that reason, it is not comprehensive in terms of fulfilling... read more

The authors' note that their intent with this textbook was creating an intersectional, interdisciplinary, anchoring reference text to be used in concert with other assigned readings, for that reason, it is not comprehensive in terms of fulfilling all my needs in an intro to women's studies textbook. Further, they state they are all sociologists, thus the textbook reflects a sociological bias or perspective. There is no index. Each unit includes a list of references. Key terms are bolded and defined within the text, but are not collected within each unit or at the front or back matter in glossary form. There is no mention of Title IX or VAWA, which I find disturbing. And only key leaders (the standards like Anthony and Stanton) are mentioned, and only briefly in the last unit which looks at historical feminist movements.

Would give a five except that there is a sociological bias. No errors other than omissions, which I mention in the note on comprehensiveness.

I found it most relevant. Updates should be easy to incorporate.

The text is okay. I didn't find it as engaging or inviting as other textbooks. I have doubts that my first and second year students will find it accessible. There is adequate context for some jargon/technical terminology used...(see my note on text's consistency), but I've encountered terms/concepts within this OER that I have not encountered in teaching from various textbooks in the discipline for seven years, that I would not introduce to my intro level students.

No complaints about the terminology and framework, other than there are terms and concepts used within this book that likely correlate with curriculum outcomes of U Mass Amherst, but do not correlate with my local outcomes. Since the text has a sociological bias, I assume that these terms I'm unfamiliar with are from that discipline. If I used this textbook in my class, I'd instruct students to ignore the several sections covering terms I'd not hold them responsible for learning.

Perfectly modular, easily divisible. It is formatted like a printed textbook, meaning that the pagination alternates from top left to top right. Perhaps more consistent pagination (like in APA formatting of an article/paper) would make assigning page number ranges easier. It's not a major problem, but a minor inconvenience. I know how some students struggle to decode information, so making things as simple and consistent as possible for users is best.

The choices the authors made in organizing the content is logical and clear. It is not a deterrent to teaching this material. In my experience with several Intro to Women's Studies textbooks, authors' often order the information in different, but progressives ways that introduced readers to the concepts, philosophies, issues, and trends in the discipline while also building upon knowledge gained from earlier units/chapters. Many of the paragraphs seem quite dense and lengthy. Chunking them smaller may help reading and engagement.

The entire text is a .pdf, which makes navigation a simple matter of paging/scrolling up or paging/scrolling down. I'm unaware of how or whether navigation anchors can be implemented with pdf, but having navigation links that return one to the TOC or to the top of the unit, would save time and make browsing for information easier. Images and charts are generally okay, though there is minor pixellation with one or two images. It is not an image-heavy text, so this is not a major concern. YouTube videos embedded within the textbook open and display with no problems.

No grammatical errors so glaring that I noticed. It appears to be well copy-edited.

Highly culturally sensitive. One of its strengths is section 3 of Unit 1, which provides identity terms. For example, it posits "people of color" against "colored people" and explains what each term means, to whom it refers, and why or why not a person would choose to use those words, or to NOT choose to use the terms. It does this with at least four or five other identity groups and suggests using terms that persons claiming those identities recognize and advocate using for themselves.

This is ok. As an OER, it does a good job of introducing the majority of key concepts, philosophies and issues within the discipline. No one textbook can cover all the material that a professor deems essential, unless she creates it herself.

Reviewed by Mindy Stokes, College Instructor, Clatsop Community College on 5/21/18

This text is great to use with undergraduate students who just beginning their college careers. It includes a historical analysis of the women's movements as well as the issues facing women today. read more

This text is great to use with undergraduate students who just beginning their college careers. It includes a historical analysis of the women's movements as well as the issues facing women today.

The content is accurate.

The text includes historical data as well as data about our current state of affairs. Newer theories such as Intersectionality are included. Gender identity is covered as well. This is important because these issues are in the news and popular culture right now.

The text is easy to read. Videos are included. This is a good book for college students beginning their academic career.

The text is consistent with its language. It discusses issues relevant today and uses language younger generations will be familiar with.

The book is broken into smaller sections that can be assigned at different times during the term.

The book is organized effectively. It details the history of feminist movements at the beginning and moves along from there talking about relevant topics of today such as non-binary genders, intersectionality, and body shaming.

The book is easy to read as a PDF. It has youtube videos inserted thoughout giving the reader a visual snapshot of the theoretical topic discussed.

The text doesn't contain grammatical errors.

The book is culturally relevant. It is suited for a younger audience, using language of today's world.

Reviewed by Elijah Edelman, Assistant Professor , Rhode Island College on 5/21/18

The text is distinctly more comprehensive in scope and content when contrasted to the unfortunately majority of current texts framed around gender studies. The text goes to great lengths to disrupt and unpack dominant discourses on gender and,... read more

The text is distinctly more comprehensive in scope and content when contrasted to the unfortunately majority of current texts framed around gender studies. The text goes to great lengths to disrupt and unpack dominant discourses on gender and, importantly, integrates this approach into the writing itself (for example, the authors refer to an individual as 'female-assigned' rather than 'female,' which provides excellent modeling for students). Of note, and a distinction from many 'gender, sex, sexuality' readers, this text weaves in many of the socio-political implications of ideologies (for example, the prison industrial complex, multi-national corporations, etc) around gender and sexuality, rather than simply providing definitions or presenting gender, sex or sexuality as enclosed systems. While the text does a truly excellent job unpacking gender with multiple frameworks, sex essentialism across disciplines, and feminist histories, we see far less on sexuality to the degree that it is perhaps misleading to describe this text as an introduction to women, gender, sexuality studies. I would frame this book as extremely comprehensive with regard to contemporary gender studies and feminist studies, but as having, in contrast, very little content on critical sexuality studies.

It is perhaps unfair or not entirely feasible for a social scientist, such as myself, to attempt to describe the accuracy or degrees of bias on topics that social scientists, such as myself, acknowledge are inherently subjective and require contextualization in time, place, and language. That said, working within the same north Atlantic, anglo-phone and time frame as the production of this text, I would describe this text as 'accurate and unbiased' in the sense that it acknowledges the 'messiness' and extreme variability in lived experiences of gender.

I would describe this book as very much 'up-to-date' on gender studies and I would envision it as remaining viable as up-to-date for at least several years. Due to the rapidly evolving language used around gender (particularly trans studies) and emerging forms of identity, this text (in addition to every single text intended for the instruction of gender studies) will need to be updated with a degree of frequency to remain as up-to-date as it is now. However, the text is sectioned in ways that updates could be made with relative ease.

The text is impressively accessible in fields known for jargon while also not overly simplifying importantly complex concepts. The prose is not overly 'conversational' nor is it as obtuse as likely this very review. This texts provides a clear means for students working at the introductory level to learn about gender critically without wading through oceans of words.

As a text that approaches and makes use of multiple frameworks in a field that is composed of multiple frameworks, the book remains internally consistent in that approach.

I would describe this text's modularity as being as one of it's defining and most valuable characteristics. One could easily use only the first several chapters or even the later sections focusing on the history of feminist movements at no deficit to the concepts in the selected sections.

I find the organization and flow of the text to be clear, intuitive, and in line with how a course on gender studies might flow across a semester.

The text does not appear to have any distorted images or text nor is it unclear at any point how to get from one point in the text to another.

I found no grammatical errors in my reading of the text.

My comment here is best split into two comments based on context/approach and framed as an anthropologist reviewing a text written by sociologists: 1) If we approach this text as being produced by and for those who are specifically focused on or in US or North Atlantic formations of gender, sex, and itinerant features of race, social class, and experience then it is fair to say this text is 'culturally relevant.' 2) If we approach this text from a cross-cultural or anthropological approach, or in non-US or North Atlantic contexts, I would not describe this text as being 'culturally relevant' in that it is overwhelmingly focused on US/North Atlantic understandings, experiences, histories, and conceptual frameworks. In other words, this text is appropriate for getting at a very geographically and linguistically-fixed (US/North Atlantic and written English) discussion of gender. This text would not be appropriate for courses or students approaching concepts of gender, sexuality and itinerant concepts of race and class outside of US/North Atlantic and Anglophone contexts. Finally, the authors do make note of their disciplinary approach (sociology) as well as limitations this produces in the introduction of the text and so my comment here is less an evaluation of the authors or the text and more a statement echoing the authors' noted focus/limitations of the text.

My only comment of concern--which is a critique that can be generalized to most, if not all, texts intended for an undergraduate audience--are the limited use of citations when discussing terms, concepts, or ideas that the authors did not themselves develop. To be clear, the authors do engage, discuss, and cite far more theorists than a general reader (including a clear and well-placed list of references at the end of each chapter) and this contributes significantly to the overall quality of the book. Moreover, to provide the level of citations needed or expected of, say, a journal article would likely result in a diminished quality of clarity, which runs counter to the goal of the text. However, as an example of a concept or claim that would benefit from a citation, on page 20 the authors write "...racial categories are different in Brazil, where many individuals with African ancestry are considered to be white." Brazilian scholars on race (see Santos et al 2009) or Brazilians who have African ancestry and are racialized as distinctly not white may not agree with this statement, nor is it clear how or who is the basis for this particular claim. In short, those adopting this text (and even those not adopting this text) should remind students how and why citations are used.

Reviewed by Milton Wendland, Instructional Faculty II, University of South Florida on 3/27/18

The text provides a broad overview of key concepts, although some that would seem to me foundational are missing (e.g., patriarchy, kyriarchy, Title IX, internalized racism/homophobia/misogyny, etc). Intersectionality is woven in throughout,... read more

The text provides a broad overview of key concepts, although some that would seem to me foundational are missing (e.g., patriarchy, kyriarchy, Title IX, internalized racism/homophobia/misogyny, etc). Intersectionality is woven in throughout, deeply enough for students to get a sense of its breadth, application, and usefulness but not so much or so deeply that the entire text is reduced to being a text on intersectionality. Due to its brevity, there are some large areas and topics that are not included but this is easily addressed by adding material of one’s own to the course. A glossary and an index would be helpful; searching the text works but for some terms can be time-consuming and misleading.

I didn’t see any factual or definitional inaccuracies, but because this is an introductory text (and introductory-lite, at that) some topics do get glossed a tad briefly – race, among them. One large issue that needs to be addressed is how the text asserts that “Women, Gender, Sexuality Studies (WGSS) is an interdisciplinary field.” That’s factually and conceptually inaccurate; these are three separate fields that have their own histories, approaches, and critical debates even as they share common subjects and methods. They need to be addressed separately, at least in passing, so as not to be confused in the minds of students. And, as with any text written by authors trained in specific disciplines, this text is deeply indebted to sociological thinking and only rarely explicitly includes other disciplinary approaches and methods. This could suggest to students that the fields of women’s studies, gender studies, and sexuality studies are the provenance of sociology only. While the instructor could easily add material to round out the text, it would be nice to have some of this in the text already.

While some of the statistics and data are already starting to show their age, the brevity and organization of the text makes it easy for the authors to update. I would think a yearly update could be accomplished with relative ease. The links worked but would need to be checked. Of course in areas like those covered in the text, the landscape of law and political culture can change rapidly but I think any instructor would easily be able to add in relevant/current material with ease.

The text is definitely chockful of concepts and terms that might be overwhelming on their own, but the brevity of the book suggests that it is designed to skeleton or frame a course and not be the sole or only text in the course. For that reason – and because the authors have chunked the text into units and sub-chapters – the relative density should be manageable, even for the first-semester college student.

Some texts with multiple authors reveal themselves as different units and chapters feel different and don’t flow. This text flows well. Terms and concepts are standard throughout and the writing style is consistent.

I appreciate the way this text is chunked into units and chapters that I believe I could assign in almost any order and that I could break up or group together to fit my course needs. The modularity or chunking also makes it easy for an instructor to insert additional introductory, supplementary, reinforcing, or mastery material of any type (e.g., readings, assignments, documentaries, group projects, discussion questions, etc).

The text flows well. It’s more common to see a chapter on feminist and its history at the beginning of a text but because of the modularity of the book, it is easy to change the order.

One small issue is that the font-size of the attributions and captions is too large and distracting, especially when it is only an attribution. Some are oddly placed (e.g., page 26).

I reviewed this text for content and not closely for composition issues like grammar and punctuation. That said, I didn’t notice any errors.

I didn’t see anything blatantly or directly insensitive or offensive. However, because of its brevity, the text sometimes glosses perhaps a tad lightly. For example, race is addressed and covered but I was left wondering if my students would leave the text with a more nuanced understanding of race or not.

Reviewed by Kathryn Klement, Assistant Professor, Bemidji State University on 2/1/18

The authors are very comprehensive in their topic coverage. I particularly like how discussion of intersectionality permeates the text outside of its specific chapter. I also like how the authors supplemented their text with embedded videos,... read more

The authors are very comprehensive in their topic coverage. I particularly like how discussion of intersectionality permeates the text outside of its specific chapter. I also like how the authors supplemented their text with embedded videos, which heightened the accessibility of some of the material. One limitation is that there is no glossary, so readers would need to keyword search within the document (and to do that, they'd need to know what they were looking for).

The authors use sociological and other social science research to back up their work, and provide reference lists for each unit. It is possible that there are new data that could challenge some of the statements since the text was published, but it's quite current (e.g., using 2015 Census data). The language is unbiased in that it centers marginalized experiences.

The language used to describe and refer to marginalized identities is current (and explained well). The units are arranged in reasonable chunks, and the content groups make sense.

The writing is very clear, and speaking to the comprehensiveness of content, covers a large amount of terms and material. For an introductory text, there are a lot of social science terms, but I think the authors do a good job of explaining them, in addition to providing sources for further information, including videos.

The consistency is great across all sections of the text. Intersectional perspectives inform all relevant content areas.

Chapters range from 3-6 pages, and often include graphics and/or embedded videos. The paragraphs are also manageable. As the chapters are short, they can be assigned individually or in groups. For some chapters, it will make more sense to have other content explained first (e.g., discussing heteronormativity and gender prior to discussing the U.S. family structure), but most of the content can be read in any order. Some (including me) might want to start a class with a historical perspective of women's movements, though the authors put this content at the end of the text.

The units are organized into groups of topics that make sense. Due to the modularity of some topics, the order could be arbitrary, but some later topics definitely benefit from the foundation of earlier topics (e.g., race, class, and gender earlier; racialized, gendered, and sexualized labor later).

The text, images, and links are clear and well-formatted.

I noticed no spelling or grammar mistakes.

As I mentioned earlier, the terminology is up-to-date. The only area I found deficient was a discussion of religious identity. Religion is mentioned in passing a few times, but does not have its own chapter. As women comprise the majority of religious adherents, and several major religions have oppressive roots (which have many implications for women and trans folks), I would like to have seen some coverage.

I think the authors provide an excellent introduction to the sociological perspective of women, gender, and sexuality.

Reviewed by Vicki McGarvey, Learning & Information Services Manager, Staffordshire University on 2/1/18

This is a clear and concise introduction, to women, gender and sexuality. It provides a theoretical context and examines the various societal issues and constructs that shape individual beliefs. The book focuses on work and the economy, culture,... read more

This is a clear and concise introduction, to women, gender and sexuality. It provides a theoretical context and examines the various societal issues and constructs that shape individual beliefs. The book focuses on work and the economy, culture, historical and contemporary movements, as well as the construction of binary systems, but not in isolation, it argues that the overlapping of systems reinforces beliefs.

Given the comprehensiveness of the book, an interactive index and particularly a glossary would be helpful, as readers may find this a useful reference resource whilst reading, especially for keeping track of some of the acronyms and at a later date as a refresher for some of the terminology used within the subject.

It is written from an American perspective, so many of the illustrations reflect this, however, it would be of value for those that are researching the subject from a comparative perspective. Furthermore, the units on “Theoretical Frameworks and Concepts” “Binary Systems and Constructions of Difference” have generic observations that could be integrated within most introductory courses on the subject.

The book is structured into Units with images and cleverly incorporates multimedia. It is a good starting point for readers who want to undertake further research, and the incorporated references will help with this.

Given the nature of the subject keeping the content up-to-date may be a bit of a challenge, with respect to providing recent illustrations within the areas covered, and as terminology change. However, the historical observations will still remain relevant.

The book is clear and concise give the complexity of the subject areas. The inclusion of images and multimedia helps to consolidate the observations and the arguments within the text. Terminology and theory are necessary to explain the overlapping systems identified within the book, but these are written in a straightforward manner although a glossary would also help here.

Despite there being several authors of this book the text remains consistent throughout. The division into units and chapters within the units helps to pace the reader and would also help any teacher who would like to repurpose any aspect and integrate into their learning materials. The terminology is illustrated with real life examples which also assists understanding.

The modularity of the book is one if its strengths. Given that this can be a complex subject, as it refers to social theory, history, medicine and science the structure and the pacing helps the reader to digest this. The visuals and multimedia also break up the text. The writing is consistent and clear throughout and the units and chapters are not to onerous or large which is important in an introductory text.

The book flows well, and the Units interrelate but can equally standalone. The theoretical start frames the subject well, before moving into the societal and historical units. The clear text is written within a critical context.

The PDF format is not interactive, but it is possible to search the text. The units and the chapters, however, help with the navigation. There was no issue navigating to the videos, and images rendered well and clearly captioned, including the creative commons licence.

I could not see any errors with the book. One of the strengths of this book is its accessibly writing style throughout.

The book is written in an inclusive way, the illustrations are also representative, although from an American perspective which is not particularly clear in the title and the introduction. However, the theoretical overviews could be usefully integrated within any teaching within the area. The subject matter is presented from a cross cultural perspective, including, observations about race, class, globalisation,social activism and justice and the intersections between these in developing individual beliefs. Possibly a Unit comparing with another country/countires or some comparative examples within the text would be of help, and an extra dimension to some of the arguments presented.

The title clearly states that this is an introduction to women gender and sexuality studies which is clearly is. It opens the door to the subject and the lively writing style would help the reader to look further into the subject, and possibly more complex work. Apart from theoretical observation, it is very much from an American perspective which could be made a little bit clearer, but nevertheless given that it is not too lengthy and well set out it would be of useful to any reader studying or interested in the subject.

Reviewed by Janice Okoomian, Assistant Professor, Rhode Island College on 2/1/18

A number of important concepts are not covered or are only mentioned in passing -- the role of religion, for instance, in constructing ideologies of gender. More detail is needed to explain the many concepts presented. Examples need to be more... read more

Comprehensiveness rating: 2 see less

A number of important concepts are not covered or are only mentioned in passing -- the role of religion, for instance, in constructing ideologies of gender. More detail is needed to explain the many concepts presented. Examples need to be more robust and vibrant in order to illustrate concepts.

Generally, the content is accurate, but as all of the authors are sociologists, there is an inherent bias in its single disciplinary perspective.

Some examples will need to be updated. For instance, there is a new class action suit against Walmart, which is not mentioned in the vignette about Walmart. Gender expression and sexuality terminology will also need to be updated soon.

Clarity rating: 2

The book is written clearly but would not be accessible for many students, who will find it dry and boring. I attribute this to the density of theoretical concepts, which are presented one after another without sufficient examples or images.

This is an area of strength for this book. Terminology and framework are internally consistent.

The text is divided into logical chunks, and I could easily see assigning a module of a few pages as a single reading.

The organization makes sense and is easy to follow.

Navigation was easy and images were not distorted.

Impeccable written expression.

Cultural Relevance rating: 2

Although the authors themselves observe that racial difference cannot be reduced to white/black distinctions, it reproduces the very reductive racial discourse it objects to. While African American women are well represented in the text, there is a curious absence of representation of other racial or ethnic groups in the text and especially in the images.

Like many introductory textbooks in the field, this one is written by sociologists. The authors regard the fact that they are all sociologists, "as both a strength and weakness of the text, as it provides a strong sociological approach but does not cover the entire range of work in the field.” (7) I believe it to be much more of a weakness than a strength, however, because when introductory texts are written from a single disciplinary perspective it skews and impoverishes students' understanding of GWSS. It would be necessary to balance the text with readings from other disciplines -- history, literary studies, art history, religion, philosophy, anthropology, and all the rest -- in order to provide a more accurate representation of the field.

In addition, the concept-heavy text would be heavy going for many of today's students. It reads more like an extended glossary than anything else. To make the text more engaging, there should many many more examples, vignettes, stories, scenarios, and exercises to help students understand concepts and engage in learning how to apply them. The pictures are particularly problematic. There are too few of them, some of them are boring (law books with a gavel), while others are irrelevant (pouring wine into a decanter). The layout of the textbook is also not engaging -- very text dense, with too little attention paid to document design. .

Reviewed by Michelle Buchberger, Assistant Professor, Miami University on 2/1/18

The text is brief. It is 132 pages, covering the following topics: 1. Critical Introduction to the Field 2. Theorizing Lived Experiences 3. Identity Terms 4. Conceptualizing Structures of Power 5. Social Constructionism 6. Intersectionality 7.... read more

The text is brief. It is 132 pages, covering the following topics: 1. Critical Introduction to the Field 2. Theorizing Lived Experiences 3. Identity Terms 4. Conceptualizing Structures of Power 5. Social Constructionism 6. Intersectionality 7. Introduction: Binary Systems 8. Theorizing Sex/Gender/Sexuality 9. Gender and Sex – Transgender and Intersex 10. Sexualities 11. Masculinities 12. Race 13. Class 14. Alternatives to Binary Systems 15. Introduction: Institutions, Cultures, and Structures 16. Family 17. Media 18. Medicine, Health, and Reproductive Justice 19. State, Laws, and Prisons 20. Intersecting Institutions Case Study: The Struggle to End Gendered Violence and Violence Against Women 21. Introduction: Gender, Work and Globalization 22. Gender and Work in the US 23. Gender and the US Welfare State 24. Transnational Production and Globalization 25. Racialized, Gendered, and Sexualized Labor in the Global Economy 26. Introduction: Feminist Movements 27. 19th Century Feminist Movements 28. Early to Late 20th Century Feminist Movements 29. Third Wave and Queer Feminist Movements

I found no errors in the book; neither spelling/grammar not content.

The content is up to date, including YouTube videos - all links worked when I tested them.

The book is written in a clear, accessible style. There are several illustrations in the text.

The terminology and framework are consistent.

The units are very short, and chunked into 29 pieces. This would be easy to add as supplementary readings if used with another more comprehensive text.

The book flows very effectively. Key words are bolded and clearly explained the first time they appear.

No problems with hyperlinks or distortion. Some of the images are a bit grainy, but are still viewable on a computer screen. Distorted when printed.

No grammatical errors that I found.

Nothing offensive. The book is almost exclusively US focussed. Sections on Global and Transnational aspects of feminism are very brief.

This 132 page volume was written by four UMASS professors. It is a well-produced and well-presented work, albeit rather brief and focused (as the authors themselves admit) on a sociological perspective. It was created specifically to counter the increasing cost of textbooks in the field, and the contents, if brief, cover significant topics in the field of Women, Gender, and Sexuality studies.

Reviewed by Stef Woods, Professorial Lecturer, American University on 2/1/18

I was impressed with the book's comprehensiveness. I particularly appreciated the book's discussion of the field of sexuality studies, the binary, media and the importance of language. I also loved how the book incorporated videos. This book would... read more

I was impressed with the book's comprehensiveness. I particularly appreciated the book's discussion of the field of sexuality studies, the binary, media and the importance of language. I also loved how the book incorporated videos. This book would work well for a survey or introductory course in sexuality studies. But, it's comprehensive enough to also be utilized for discrete class topics. And, finally, I liked how each unit had references at the end. That would make it easy for a junior or senior to use the text to provide a clear overview about a topic and then delve into the sources for a research paper.

I regard the text to be accurate. With that said, this is a broad-brush approach to the subject matter. If someone requires an in-depth examination of a topic in sexuality studies, I would then check the sources that the book references for that.

The section on race could have been strengthened, though. I like the inclusion of scientific racism, But I wish that the authors had discussed: 1) that there is no such thing as a pure genetically homogeneous race; and 2) that there is no genetic basis for race.

With that said, I was surprised that the book didn't reference Stonewall at all. I felt as though Black Lives Matter and the Women's March should have been addressed in the body of the text and not just in photographs. I also wish that there was a discussion on post-feminism. (I don't agree that we live in a post-feminist world, but some people do.) Finally,

I anticipate that students who read this book will appreciate the inclusion of videos and graphs. With that said, I hope that these will be updated. Videos reflect popular culture, which changes with the time. And, the graphs will lose their relevance with each passing year.

This book is exceptionally clear. I particularly appreciate the use of bold for key phrases, the definitions in the first unit, and the inclusion of videos and graphs.

I found the book to be internally consistent, but also to effectively present points in different contexts. This was evident in the book's discussion of intersectionality and feminism.

I really appreciated how the text was divided. This book could easily be assigned as sub-sections, units or in its entirety.

It seemed odd to me to have the history unit at the end of the book. To me, it would have made more sense to discuss history in the second or third unit in the book.

I wish that the table of contents had page numbers. But, overall, I thought that the book was easy to navigate and read.

I wasn't reading with eagle-eye editing in mind, but the chapters appear to be grammatically correct.

I appreciated the discussion about intersectionality, but if I'm teaching about race as a social construct or Black Lives Matter, I would assign another resource.

I teach a class entitled Sexuality and Social Media. I also have sections about feminism, gender identity, othering/ableist language and intersectionality in three other classes I teach. I would recommend this book -- or sections of this book -- for an Introduction to Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies class or for other classes that incorporate WGSS concepts and theories into their curricula.I know that students appreciate online resources and how that makes materials more accessible to a larger number of students. I will be assigning portions of this book next semester and letting other instructors in the WGSS program know about it.

Reviewed by Maina C. Singh, Scholar in Residence, School of International Service, American University on 2/1/18

The title of the book itself reflects its wide span of coverage -- from women and gender to more complex debates in Sexuality Studies. It covers each of these areas in great detail providing examples which would be familiar and relevant to... read more

The title of the book itself reflects its wide span of coverage -- from women and gender to more complex debates in Sexuality Studies. It covers each of these areas in great detail providing examples which would be familiar and relevant to students in the US.

The content is well-curated with a adequate self-reflexiveness.

I don't believe that the content of this book will become obsolete anytime soon. However, textbooks such as this one, which provide several examples from contemporary American society and politics may require updates in due course.

Should a future instructor desire to add or substitute examples, I believe that it should be easy to make modifications.

A major strength of this book is its overall clarity and lucidity in explaining important concepts. Teaching courses on Gender and Sexuality requires unpacking wide-ranging concepts like Race, Class , Hegemony and so forth in order to contextualize gender in terms of structural inequalities rooted in colonialism, global production patterns , labor migrations etc. Unit 2 of this book "Challenging Binary Systems and Constructions of Difference" provides some excellent and lucid explanations for this project.

The terminology and framework of the book create consistent flow. The book displays a student-centric approach to learning.

The structure of the book enables easy insertion or modifications for future Instructors who may wish to assign only parts of this textbook. In fact, for the same reason, this textbook can be productively used for Online Teaching as well, where it would be easy to assign certain sections to any module which may require a discussion of Gender issues. This can be relevant to courses in Sociology, Area Studies or International Relations.

From Unit 1 which introduces the subject terrain to Units 4 ( 'Gender and Work in the Global Economy' ) and finally Unit 5 ( 'Historical and Contemporary Feminist Social Movements' ), the book expands its canvas and deepens its critique with a wealth of detail and commentary that is commendable.

The interface is user-friendly and student-friendly !

Did not find any significant problems with the grammar.

The text is culturally sensitive but is firmly rooted in a North American context. Thus, ' inclusiveness' of the authors is reflected in the attention that they pay to examining gender and power as it relates to the underprivileged and minority groups whether they may be oppressed due to Race, Class or Sexuality. All of this has a North American focus-- even when there is a discussion of "Gender and Work in the Global Economy" Therefore, if an Instructor wishes to offer a course on Gender Studies encompassing a wider transnational canvas, then the examples presented here offer limited possibilities.

The units in this textbook which explain concepts, terms and frameworks related to Gender and Sexuality are of immense value. However, if OER initiatives are aimed at cost-reduction not only for for students in the US, but also transnationally, then for students of 'Gender and Sexuality Studies' outside the US, this textbook would have limited value because the debates presented herein are predominantly US-centric. Even the last Unit which discusses "Historical and Contemporary Feminist Social Movements" , would have limited resonance for students in the Global South. Since OER initiatives also seek to provide cost-free textbooks globally, this is an important factor to bear in mind.

Table of Contents

Unit I: An Introduction to Women, Gender, Sexuality Studies: Grounding Theoretical Frameworks and Concepts

  • Critical Introduction to the Field
  • Theorizing Lived Experiences
  • Identity Terms
  • Conceptualizing Structures of Power
  • Social Constructionism
  • Intersectionality
  • References: Unit I

Unit II: Challenging Binary Systems and Constructions of Difference

  • Introduction: Binary Systems
  • The Sex/Gender/Sexuality System
  • Gender and Sex - Transgender and Intersex
  • Sexualities
  • Masculinities
  • Alternatives to Binary Systems
  • References: Unit II

Unit III: Institutions, Culture, and Structures

  • Introduction: Institutions, Cultures, and Structures
  • Medicine, Health, and Reproductive Justice
  • The State, Law, and the Prison System
  • Intersecting Institutions Case Study: The Struggle to End Gendered Violence and Violence Against Women
  • References: Unit III

Unit IV: Gender and Work in the Global Economy

  • Introduction: Gender and Work in the Global Economy
  • Gender and Work in the US
  • Gender and the US Welfare State
  • Transnational Production and Globalization
  • Racialized, Gendered, and Sexualized Labor in the Global Economy
  • References: Unit IV

Unit V: Historical and Contemporary Feminist Social Movements

  • Introduction: Feminist Movements
  • 19th Century Feminist Movements
  • Early to Late 20th Century Feminist Movements
  • Third Wave and Queer Feminist Movements
  • References: Unit V

Ancillary Material

About the book.

This textbook introduces key feminist concepts and analytical frameworks used in the interdisciplinary Women, Gender, Sexualities field. It unpacks the social construction of knowledge and categories of difference, processes and structures of power and inequality, with a focus on gendered labor in the global economy, and the historical development of feminist social movements. The book emphasizes feminist sociological approaches to analyzing structures of power, drawing heavily from empirical feminist research.

About the Contributors

Miliann Kang is associate professor in Women, Gender, Sexuality Studies at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, where she is also affiliated faculty in Sociology and Asian/Asian American Studies. Her book, The Managed Hand: Race, Gender and the Body in Beauty Service Work (2010, University of California Press) addresses gendered processes and relations in immigrant women’s work focusing on Asian-owned nail salons. It won four awards from the American Sociological Association (Sections on Racial and Ethnic Minorities; Sex and Gender; Race, Gender, and Class; and Asia/Asian America) and the Sara Whaley book prize from the National Women’s Studies Association. She is currently researching work-family issues for Asian American women, and the racial politics of mothering. Her research has been supported by the American Association of University Women, the Ford Foundation, the Institute for Asian American Studies at UMass Boston, the Labor Relations and Research Center at UMass Amherst and the Social Science Research Council. She received her Ph.D. from New York University and her B.A. magna cum laude from Harvard University.

Donovan Lessard is a researcher and public health evaluator with an MA in sociology and a Graduate Certificate in Advanced Feminist Studies.

Laura Heston is a graduate student in the Department of Sociology at University Massachusetts, Amherst.

Sonny Nordmarken  is a graduate student in the Department of Sociology at University Massachusetts, Amherst.

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  • Dr. Andrea Walsh
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  • Women's and Gender Studies

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  • Published: 11 August 2015

Gender studies and interdisciplinarity

  • Kath Woodward 1 &
  • Sophie Woodward 2  

Palgrave Communications volume  1 , Article number:  15018 ( 2015 ) Cite this article

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  • Anthropology
  • Cultural and media studies

In this article we consider the example of gender studies as an interdisciplinary field, and argue that gender studies, and women’s studies, from which gender studies developed, has a distinctive engagement with interdisciplinarity. By thinking about the trajectory of women’s studies, feminist thinking and gender studies, we suggest that this has always been an interdisciplinary field of study. We trace both the shifts and continuities in thinking between different iterations of feminist thinking to consider the three core fields of: gender, sex and sexuality; intersectionality and activism; theory and methods. The article aims to open up debate over what the constructive possibilities are of a focus upon gender, and what the relationship is between theory and activism. This article is published as part of an ongoing collection dedicated to interdisciplinary research.


Gender studies form part of a significant shift into interdisciplinarity in academic fields more widely, which is reflected in the issue-based calls of funding bodies, special editions of journals and the growth of interdisciplinary research fields. Gender studies are an integral part of this interdisciplinary movement that offers theoretical and methodological advantages in understanding multiply constituted social worlds and addressing pressing global problems, such as the dynamics of migration, uneven global power geometries and climate change. Not only are most of the big issues in the contemporary world underpinned by social divisions including those based on sex and gender, but also the issues addressed by sexual politics are often a key motor of activism and change. Gender studies are distinctive in their engagement with interdisciplinarity, which have developed though a synergy between thought and activism. This field of research and study draws upon the tradition of women’s studies and feminist theories and activism, rather than being merely part of recent trends and fashions, in a shift to interdisciplinary theory, which goes beyond multi- or trans-disciplinary approaches. Gender studies have grown out of the need to address some of the big issues in everyday life as well as on the global arena of international politics in which cultural, economic, political and social inequalities are played out ( Woodward, 2014 ). Gender awareness has become integral to disciplinary fields as diverse as history, literature, science, sociology and economics, as well as emerging as a field of studies, which goes much further than the mainstreaming of gender. Sexual politics and gender studies have more recently engaged with some of the dilemmas, which have been presented by diversity policies, for example, European Union equality policies, which might be seen to have gone beyond gender or in which gender has been marginalized ( Agustin, 2013 ).

Women’s studies, feminist studies and gender studies

It is increasingly more usual to describe the field of study to which gender and gender relations are central as “gender studies” rather than “women’s studies”, which reflects an historical, chronological shift as well as intellectual connections and the growth of empirical research in the field. Although gender studies are relatively recent in the academy, most work in this area builds upon the growth of the women’s movement as part of the identity politics of the 1970s and 1980s ( Woodward, 1997 ) and the development of Women’s Studies Centres in North American, Australian and European countries. All these centres were characterized by emancipatory aspirations that sought to provide robust empirical evidence and scholarly bases for political change, in particular by putting gender, and in the 1970s and 1980s, more specifically women onto the political agenda and into discourse.

Feminist studies, especially feminist theories, remain central to the field, although gender studies, like women’s studies are marked by diverse, and sometimes overlapping intellectual traditions and movements, which also manifest changing times, not least in the shift from the liberal, Marxist, socialist and radical strands of the women’s movement to the wider inclusion of black feminism, ethnicization, racialization, and issues of bodies and corporeality, disability, sexuality, class defined and geographically located inequalities.

The shift towards gender studies also reflects a widening intellectual base, including psychosocial as well as psychoanalytical theories, poststructuralist, postcolonial studies, critical studies of masculinity, queer studies and LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, queer) critical race, critiques of whiteness, ecological feminism and materialist feminism and technoscience studies. It is a broad church, but it is also a field that is hotly contested.

The move towards gender studies in the 1990s and into the twenty-first century has not been welcomed by everyone who works on gender issues. For example, Braidotti (1994) pointed to the way in which gender studies could be seen as taking over women’s studies and feminist achievements and de-radicalizing the women’s movement by suggesting a postfeminist world where men’s studies and masculinity were more important areas of research. Gender studies do offer recognition of the importance of critiques of masculinity but the extent to which, for example, gay studies and a male-dominated agenda has replaced feminist activism and a motor for progress remains central to the debate. Gender studies have, however, put masculinity up for debate and critique, and demonstrate that men as well as women are gendered. Nonetheless the move towards gender studies, especially through its associations with postmodernist, poststructuralist and some psychoanalytic approaches can be seen as having involved a retreat from politics and activism. The shifts in the transmission from women’s studies to gender studies also reflect changes in the ways in which issues of gender and sexuality have been woven into interdisciplinary studies. There remains a tension between “mainstreaming” and the suggestion that battles have been won in relation to gender equality and the expansion of gender studies as an important interdisciplinary field of research. A consequence of this “mainstreaming” and assumption that many feminist battles have been won can be seen in the language used to describe fields of social inequalities and policies are de-gendered. For example, in the seemingly gender-neutral discourses of policy that refer to parents and parental leave rather than acknowledging the specificities of maternity and its embodied actualities. Similarly, in the context of health and well-being, there is a trend towards neutralizing gender difference through the use of generational categories such as teenagers or children. For example, eating disorders are perceived as a teenage problem, without regard to the gender differences in relation to differential experiences of adolescence. Gender studies need to acknowledge and address the material and enfleshed differences as well as equality.

Women’s studies always aimed at crossing disciplinary boundaries and challenging subject compartmentalization, which, it has been argued, needs to be dismantled and broken down to both study and undertake research and combat oppression ( Klein, 1995 ). Crossing the boundaries and thinking creatively about disciplinary intersections has been expanded to generate different ways of explaining and of acting upon the social relations, differences and inequalities, which include sex, gender and sexuality. Some research centres focus upon gender and sexuality, such as Birkbeck in London, or politics of gender, such as the London School of Economics, whereas others emphasize more gender studies as part of interdisciplinarity, for example, in the United States at centres such as the University of California, Berkeley and New York State. Interdisciplinary gender studies constitute a broad church ( Richardson and Robinson, 2015 ).

In this article we consider this interdisciplinary focus across three dimensions, which are at the heart of the project of gender studies: the relationship between sex, gender and bodies, including how sexuality is implicated in these debates, the intersection of different structures and forces of inequality and finally the relationship between activism, theory and methods.

Sex, gender and sexuality

Gender studies have as their foundation an engagement with the sexed body and with the interrelationship between sex and gender, which at times are inextricably entangled. Gender has become the preferred term for referring to social difference, partly because of its wider scope and remit than sex, which has been assumed to be biological and anatomical and to challenge the apparent limitations of biological reductionism ( Moi, 1999 ). However, there is a case for the inclusion of sex and gender as part of the explanatory framework of sexual politics. Gender studies have taken over from women’s studies in the academy for a number of reasons, not all of them liberatory. Women’s studies and feminism not only put gender into the agenda but also offered new ways of understanding gender as a social, cultural and political process and structure through which societies are organized. Although many earlier accounts suggested a division between sex as anatomical and biological and gender as the social and cultural manifestations of sex, there are strong arguments for sex as shaped by cultural forces and made through social practices. One of Butler’s major contributions to gender studies and to the study of social relations and the operation of power across disciplines is her critique of sex and sexuality as well as gender as performative. Sex, as much as gender, is produced by the processes and practices through which it is defined and classified. Butler’s (1990 , 1993) work has generated questions and debates about the materiality of sex, the fluidity and the transgressive properties of sex, gender and sexuality. Debates within gender studies about the nature of sex and gender invoke the need for interdisciplinary approaches as well as drawing upon a range of disciplines and theoretical frameworks.

Gender studies have incorporated studies of masculinity ( Connell, [1995] 2005 , 2014 ) and interdisciplinary approaches have stressed the possibilities of transformation of traditional stereotypical masculinities ( Hooks, 2004 ). Gender is not just about women, as has so often been the case in the promotion of policies of equal opportunities in neo-liberal democracies in recent times. Men are gendered too and the interrogation of hegemonic masculinity raises challenges to power structures in a vast range of social, economic, cultural and political systems where traditional, seemingly gender neutral norms are called into question. However, challenges to an essentialized category of ‘woman’ have led to a marginalization, and even absence, of some of the critiques of structural oppression such as patriarchy, which was a key concept in second-wave feminist critiques of the operation of power at all levels.

Gender is both an empirical category and a theoretical conceptualization, which facilitates greater understanding of social relations and divisions as well as describing them. Sport is an example of a field that is underpinned by a binary logic of sex, in which traditional masculinity has been particularly valued: often literally, financially more highly rewarded and valued. Gender binaries have been challenged in the public space occupied by elite athletes and the governing bodies of sport, like the International Olympic Committee and at more local levels of routine sporting practices. For example, debates about gender verification testing in sport demonstrate well some of the interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary capacities of gender studies that have been invoked in the ever more desperate attempts by sporting bodies to provide a scientific classification of sex ( Woodward, 2012 ). Testing currently involves a range of ever more complex, trans and interdisciplinary tests in pursuit of some kind of stability and draw upon a mix of disciplines that include medical science, genetics, psychology, anthropology, cultural geography and sociology.

The example of sport highlights the ways in which how sex and gender are understood, categorized and lived is always in relationship to bodies. Interdisciplinary thinking has been generated within gender studies by the pressing need to move beyond some of the limitations of biological reductionism and essentialism and the suggestion that the social practices and cultural systems of gender derive directly from the anatomical, biological and genetic inheritances of sex. Interdisciplinary approaches also need to be necessitated through the exploration of some of the interrelationships between biology, genetics, bodies and social systems. Gender studies have been most creative and productive in embracing mathematics, science, psychology and technology to understand how sex and science and technology are enmeshed, for example, in Harraway’s (1997) work on technoscience and Franklin’s (2013) research on genetics.

Intersecting structures of oppression

Gender studies demand an understanding of power relations and thus of politics within and beyond government, as well as of the social, economic and cultural processes that are the subject of arts, humanities and social science disciplines. The structures of oppression and the processes through which economic, social and cultural forces intersect in different contexts, both actual and virtual and within systems of governance. The processes of racialization and ethnicization and class-based divisions intersect and gender studies highlights the need to make sense of these processes and particularly to why it is necessary to understand them together, rather than as separate, discrete forces. Feminism engages with pressing social inequalities, which endure, even if they demonstrate and are underpinned by temporal and spatial particularities. Contemporary international societies remain marked by gendered inequalities ( UN Women Reports, 2015 ) and the focus of gender studies upon power relations makes this interdisciplinary field of enquiry even more significant in the twenty-first century. Far from living in a postfeminist world, empirical evidence suggests that inequalities persist, and that we need the feminist and gender studies tradition of engaging with empirical, quantitative evidence. As Connell (2009) argues, there is substantial statistical evidence of gender inequalities, including most pervasively, the exploitation and oppression of women worldwide. However, big data demands analysis as well as description. Gender has been put into the discourse of the classificatory systems of data collection in different ways but United Nation’s evidence, especially following the Beijing Conference on Women in 1995 and the 2010 UN decision to prioritize gender issues ( UN Reports, 2015 ; UN women, 2015 ) and to eliminate violence against women ( UN Violence Against Women, 2015 ), raised important questions about the collection of data as well as their interpretation. When gender is on the agenda, the collection of evidence raises questions about the interconnections between public and private spheres, which has long been a concern of feminist critiques. Gendered inequalities operate in the apparently private arena of the home ( Violence Against Women, 2015 ), but it is only through an interdisciplinary approach, which brings different critiques and diverse analyses that the interrelationship between the personal and the political can be understood and, most importantly addressed.

Another significant aspect of the analyses of big data on international social, economic and political divisions and inequalities relates to the relationship between disciplines. Feminist critiques have developed possibilities for theorizing intersection of different power axes ( Hill Collins, 1990 ) that have been adopted by gender studies more widely to explain complex processes through which different groups of people become disenfranchised and resist oppression. Activism and resistance demonstrate diverse connections and disconnections, for example, between classes, sexes and ethnic groups. The shift towards intersectionality presents opportunities for overcoming some of the perceived limitations of focusing upon gender but also offers challenges. Contemporary activism, for example, as expressed on social media and other Internet forums demonstrates the contentious nature of debate in relation to priorities about the power axes that intersect to generate social divisions. How important is gender in these intersections? We argue that gender, although changing, remains a key determinant of inequality in contemporary global politics.

Activism, theory and methods

Gender studies have emerged from the activism that has long characterized women’s studies and associated feminist politics and gender studies in part grew out of the identity politics of the 1980s and 1990s. Theory and practice are widely enmeshed in sexual politics more broadly in gender studies: acting and explaining are part of the same project. Feminism does not just seek to explain social inequalities but also to campaign to redress these gendered inequalities. Activism includes struggles aimed at legislative change, in which different aspects of inequality intersect, for example, as expressed in the UK 2010 Equality Act, which encompasses an ever expanding range of sexualities as well as diverse sources of social exclusion, including generation, ethnicization and racialization, and human rights campaigns such as those against people trafficking and Female Genital Mutilation. Activism worldwide generates very different positions, not least with the growth of and the recognition of cultural diversity.

Sexual politics can be located within and in relation to diverse political traditions, which include those of socialism and liberalism, as well as having their own distinctive structures. Gender studies constitute a contested terrain of often strongly conflicting positions, which are disputed within the pages of academic journals and in the academy and in the democratic space of activism, including virtual spaces of the Internet and social networking sites. One of the defining features of much contemporary feminist and LGBTQ activism is the possibilities of Internet-based campaigning, such as the signing of online petitions, Websites that encourage people to relate stories of sexism ( Bates, 2014 ), through to feminist Website and blogs. Cyber space offers both opportunities for women and a range of socially excluded groups to be heard as well as being the site for additional sexist abuse ( Penny, 2014 ).

Gender studies offer scope for innovation in methods as well as having established a tradition of mixed methods in response to social change. The development of gender studies as an interdisciplinary field retains the dynamism of different and often very productive conversations, across generations, empirically in terms of lived experience and theoretically through intellectual dialogues ( Woodward and Woodward, 2009 ). There are connections and disconnections, between policies and practices, which are differentially inflected across time and space. For example, there may be consistencies in the lived experience of gender relations in different parts of the world, but there are also significant divergences. Transformations are temporal and spatial change and encompass intergenerational as well as interdisciplinary dimensions of gender studies.

Along with the big data already discussed, which highlights the scale of gendered inequalities globally, feminist approaches have often been dominated by qualitative approaches, which highlight the lived experiences of those inequalities. Earlier feminist work, which sought to foreground women’s stories emerged in a wide range of disciplines, such as history ( Rowbotham, 1975 ), sociology ( Oakley, 1979 ) and anthropology ( Moore, 1988 , 1994 ) emerged as a useful strategy to highlight the ways in which women’s experiences had been excluded from dominant historical and social narratives, by suggesting ways in which the stories of the disadvantaged and dispossessed could be put into discourse and made audible and visible. Qualitative methods have continued from the feminist tradition of highlighting the importance of lived experience through to gender studies, where these methods allow the description of lived experience and of excluded voices, as well as an understanding of how dominant structures are the means through which exclusions and inequalities are perpetuated. These methods are present both in academic-based studies and also in popular activism, which increasingly occupies cyberspace, as manifest in the Everyday Sexism campaign ( Bates, 2014 ). The Everyday Sexism campaign started as a Website inviting women to send in their stories of everyday sexism and harassment, and developed into a Twitter feed as well as a book. This project bridges the qualitative method of women having their stories heard as well as the accumulation of a huge collection of these stories (50,000 stories by December 2013). When placed together, these stories highlight the links between individual incidences and structural inequalities that academics within the field of gender studies are seeking highlight and redress.

The interdisciplinary nature of gender studies means not only that scholars can draw upon the distinctive methods of particular disciplines but also they are well placed to create new approaches, including mixed methods. By starting with questions about what shapes gender relations and how sexual politics shape experience and social, economic and political relations, gender studies demand robust empirical evidence, including statistical, quantitate data as well as qualitative, ethnographic, critical, discursive and psychosocial approaches that seek to understand some of the ambivalence and contradictory aspects of sex, gender and sexuality.

We welcome debate about the theory and practice of gender and the interdisciplinary implications of gender as a means of making sense of social divisions and lived experience. Gender studies also offer a means of exploring what is involved in interdisciplinary work and the relationship between multidisciplinary and transdisciplinary approaches, which emerge from interdisciplinary studies as an established field of enquiry with its own capacities and distinct features. Gender is itself a contested category an exploration of which creates new ways of thinking about the relationship between sex, gender and sexuality. Gender is both an empirical category and a theoretical conceptualization, which facilitates greater understanding of social relations and divisions as well as describing them. A focus on gender generates different and often innovative methodologies as well as a plurality of theoretical approaches, which are directed at making sense of inequalities and at celebrating the experiences and contributions of hitherto marginalized groups.

The journal in which this article is published encourages contributions to ongoing debates, including what is distinctive about gender studies and the nature of the relationship between activism, policymaking and theoretical and methodological approaches. Gender studies are part of a developing field, which retains the excitement of interdisciplinary innovation, which characterizes feminism and women’s studies, but extends this field of research by presenting engagements with pressing contemporary debates and issues. This is also a contested terrain characterized by lively debate about the relationship between gender and women’s studies, between activism and theoretical frameworks and about political action and the policy implications, globally and locally of focusing on gender. Many of the tensions and contradictions of gender studies are those of interdisciplinary studies at a time when there has also been a move towards the reinstatement of single disciplines in the field of higher education suffering from financial constraints and reduced resources. Gender studies present productive possibilities for contributions to knowledge, which are distinctively interdisciplinary and go far beyond attempts to mainstream gender into conventional disciplinary structures. An interdisciplinary journal is a good place to pursue these possibilities, address some the questions emerging from a focus upon gender and suggest new questions about social, political, economic and cultural processes and divisions.

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Assessment of the rationality of gender studies from the perspective of bocheński’s concept of philosophical superstition.

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In American studies and cultural studies, as in the humanities more broadly, scholars use the term “gender” when they wish to expose a seemingly neutral analysis as male oriented and when they wish to turn critical attention from men to women. In this way, a gender analysis exposes the false universalization of male subjectivity and remarks on the differences produced by the social marking we call “sex” or “sexual difference.” Poststructuralist feminist theory queries this common usage by suggesting that the critique of male bias or gender neutrality comes with its own set of problems—namely, a premature and problematic stabilization of the meaning of “woman” and “female.” In 1990, Judith Butler famously named and theorized the “trouble” that “gender” both performs and covers up. In doing so, she consolidated a new form of gender theory focused on what is now widely (and variably) referred to as “performativity.” This focus on gender as something that is performed has enabled new modes of thinking about how the transgendered body is (and can be) inhabited, about the emergence of queer subcultures, and about practices that promise to radically destabilize the meaning of all social genders.

As a term, “gender” comes to cultural studies from sexology, most explicitly from the work of psychologist John Money (Money and Ehrhardt 1972). Money is credited with (and readily claimed) the invention of the term in 1955 to describe the social enactment of sex roles; he used the term to formalize the distinction between bodily sex (male and female) and social roles (masculinity and femininity) and to note the frequent discontinuities between sex and role. Since sex neither predicts nor guarantees gender role, there is some flexibility built into the sex-gender system. This reasoning led Money to recommend sex reassignment in a now-infamous case in which a young boy lost his penis during circumcision. Given the boy’s young age, Money proposed to the parents that they raise him as a girl and predicted that there would be no ill effects. Money’s prediction proved disastrously wrong, as the young girl grew up troubled and eventually committed suicide after being told about the decisions that had been made on his/her behalf as a baby.

This case has reanimated claims that gender is a biological fact rather than a cultural invention and has led some medical practitioners to reinvest in the essential relationship between sex and gender. It has also been used by some gender theorists to argue that the gendering of the sexed body begins immediately, as soon as the child is born, and that this sociobiological process is every bit as rigid and immutable as a genetic code. The latter claim (concerning the immutability of socialization) has been critiqued by poststructuralist thinkers who suggest that our understanding of the relation between sex and gender ought to be reversed: gender ideology produces the epistemological framework within which sex takes on meaning rather than the other way around (Laqueur 1990; Fausto-Sterling 1993).

All these arguments about how we ought to talk and think about sex and gender assume a related question about how the modern sex-gender system came into being in the first place. Different disciplines answer this question differently. In anthropology, Gayle Rubin’s work on “the traffic in women” (1975) builds on Claude Lévi-Strauss’s structuralist analysis of kinship (1971) to locate the roots of the hierarchical organization of a binary gender system in precapitalist societies in which kinship relied on incest taboos and the exchange of women between men. Esther Newton’s (1972) ethnographic research on drag queens in Chicago in the 1960s and 1970s finds gender to be an interlocking system of performances and forms of self-knowing that only become visible as such when we see them theatricalized in the drag queen’s cabaret act. In sociology, Suzanne Kessler and Wendy McKenna (1990) have produced a brilliant handbook on the production of gendered bodies, providing readers with a vocabulary and a set of definitions for the study of gender as a system of norms.

Working across these disciplinary formations, American studies and cultural studies scholarship on gender continues under numerous headings and rubrics. Researchers studying the effects of globalization have paid particular attention to transformations in the labor of women under new phases of capitalism (Enloe 1989; Kempadoo and Doezema 1998). Scholars working on race have traced very specific histories of gender formation in relation to racial projects that attribute gender and sexual pathology to oppressed groups. In African American contexts, for example, black femininity has often been represented as vexed by the idealization of white femininity on the one hand and the cultural stereotyping of black women as strong, physical, and tough on the other (Hammonds 1997). Other scholars seeking to denaturalize cultural conceptions of manhood have examined masculinity in terms of new forms of work, new roles for men in the home, the function of racialized masculinities, new styles of classed masculinity, the impact of immigrant masculinities on national manhood, and the influence of minority and nonmale masculinities on gender norms (Bederman 1995; Sinha 1995; Harper 1996). Queer theorists have detached gender from the sexed body, often documenting the productive nature of gender variance and its impact on the way gender is understood and lived.

In all of these research contexts, gender is understood as a marker of social difference: a bodily performance of normativity and the challenges made to it. It names a social relation that subjects often experience as organic, ingrained, “real,” invisible, and immutable; it also names a primary mode of oppression that sorts human bodies into binary categories in order to assign labor, responsibilities, moral attributes, and emotional styles. In recent years, cultural work dedicated to shifting and rearticulating the signifying field of gender has been ongoing in queer and transgender subcultures. Drag-king shows, for example, have developed along very different lines than their drag-queen counterparts (including those documented by Newton). While drag queens tend to embody and enact an explicitly ironic relation to gender that has come to be called “camp,” drag kings often apply pressure to the notion of natural genders by imitating, inhabiting, and performing masculinity in intensely sincere modes. Whereas camp formulations of gender by gay men have relied heavily on the idea that the viewer knows and can see the intense disidentifications between the drag queen and femininity, drag-king acts more often depend on the sedimented and earnest investments made by the dyke and trans performers in their masculinities. Drag-king acts disorient spectators and make them unsure of the proper markings of sex, gender, desire, and attraction. In the process, such performances produce potent new constellations of sex and theater (Halberstam 1998).

Understood as queer interventions into gender deconstruction, drag-king performances emerge quite specifically from feminist critiques of dominant masculinities. In this sense, they can be viewed as growing out of earlier practices of feminist theory and activism. Consider Valerie Solanas’s infamous and outrageous 1968 SCUM Manifesto (SCUM stood for “Society for Cutting Up Men”), in which she argued that we should do away with men and attach all the positive attributes that are currently assigned to males to females. As long as we have sperm banks and the means for artificial reproduction, she argued, men have become irrelevant. While Solanas’s manifesto is hard to read as anything more than a Swiftian modest proposal, her hilarious conclusions about the redundancy of the male sex (“he is a half-dead, unresponsive lump, incapable of giving or receiving pleasure or happiness; consequently he is an utter bore, an inoffensive blob,” etc. [(1968) 2004, 36]) take a refreshingly extreme approach to the gender question. The performative work of the manifesto (its theatricalization of refusal, failure, and female anger and resentment; its combination of seriousness and humor) links it to contemporary queer and transgender theaters of gender. Like Solanas’s manifesto, drag-king cultures offer a vision of the ways in which subcultural groups and theorists busily reinvent the meaning of gender even as the culture at large confirms its stability.

It is revealing, then, that Solanas is at once the most utopian and dystopian of gender theorists. While Butler, in her commitment to deconstructive undecidability, cannot possibly foretell any of gender’s possible futures (even as she describes how gender is “done” and “undone”), Solanas is quite happy to make grand predictions about endings. Many academic and nonacademic gender theorists after Solanas have also called for the end of gender, noted the redundancy of the category, and argued for new and alternative systems of making sense of bodily difference (Bornstein 1994; Kessler 1998). But socially sedimented categories are hard to erase, and efforts to do so often have more toxic effects than the decision to inhabit them. Other theorists, therefore, have responded by calling for more categories, a wider range of possible identifications, and a more eclectic and open-ended understanding of the meanings of those categories (Fausto-Sterling 2000). It seems, then, that we are probably not quite ready to do away with gender—or with one gender, in particular—but we can at least begin to imagine other genders.

Whether by manifesto or reasoned argumentation, scholars in the fields of American studies and cultural studies have made gender into a primary lens of intellectual inquiry, and the evolution of gender studies marks one of the more successful versions of interdisciplinarity in the academy. Indeed, as US universities continue to experience the dissolution of disciplinarity, a critical gender studies paradigm could well surge to the forefront of new arrangements of knowledge production. At a time when both students and administrators are questioning the usefulness and relevance of fields such as English and comparative literature, gender studies may provide a better way of framing, asking, and even answering hard questions about ideology, social formations, political movements, and shifts in perceptions of embodiment and community. Gender studies programs and departments, many of which emerged out of women’s studies initiatives in the 1970s, are poised to make the transition into the next era of knowledge production in ways that less interdisciplinary areas are not. The quarrels and struggles that have made gender studies such a difficult place to be are also the building blocks of change. While the traditional disciplines often lack the institutional and intellectual flexibility to transform quickly, gender studies is and has always been an evolving project, one that can provide a particularly generative site for new work that, at its best, responds creatively and dynamically to emerging research questions and cultural forms while also entering into dialogue with other (more or less established) interdisciplinary projects, including cultural studies, American studies, film studies, science studies, ethnic studies, postcolonial studies, and queer studies.

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gender studies essays

What a Gender Studies Degree Is, How to Use It

A gender studies degree focuses on social hierarchies based on sex.

Tips on Gender Studies Degrees

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Gender studies is an interdisciplinary field of study that incorporates insights from the traditional humanities subjects, social sciences and physical sciences.

Competing theories about gender and sexuality underlie many debates on hot-button issues like abortion, pay equity and transgender identity. Gender studies programs impart knowledge and skills that help in navigating gender-related controversies.

What Is Gender Studies?

"Gender studies gives language and voice to social inequalities, processes, conditions, arrangements, and rituals that can otherwise go unspoken and unnamed," Deborah Cohan, a sociology professor at the University of South Carolina—Beaufort , wrote in an email.

Gender studies focuses on the ways gender identity and sexual orientation shape behaviors and feelings, and it investigates power dynamics that relate to sex. This field includes men’s studies, women’s studies and queer studies, and occasionally addresses widespread social concerns such as domestic violence. The academic discipline also investigates causes of sex-based discrimination and harassment and solutions to the problem.

"Research tells us that we learn what our culture considers 'appropriate' gender and sex roles by the age of two or three," E. Michele Ramsey, an associate professor of women's, gender and sexuality studies at Pennsylvania State University's Berks campus, wrote in an email. "Thus, children feel pressure at a very young age to conform to expectations based on their perceived sex (or) gender and may limit themselves as a result of these expectations."

Topics in Gender Studies Courses

Gender studies often focuses on expanding the scope of other liberal arts disciplines by examining materials that were previously overlooked because of their association with marginalized groups, according to some experts.

"It's filling in the gaps for all the things that were left out when history and all of the fields were focusing more on men," says Emily Meghan Morrow Howe, founder of the American Association of Corporate Gender Strategists, an organization that focuses on reducing workplace gender bias.

For example, a gender studies literature class may concentrate on the works of underappreciated women authors, says Howe, who frequently uses the nickname "Femily," an allusion to her queer identity.

Howe notes that gender studies is similar to ethnic studies in its focus on the distribution of power in society and its examination of "the systems of privilege and oppression."

Taryn A. Myers, an associate professor of psychology at Virginia Wesleyan University who teaches women's and gender studies courses, says the field of gender studies provides relevant information for everyone, regardless of gender.

"For example, the same patriarchal factors that say women are weak and disregard women's strengths also say that men cannot express emotion, which is linked to men's mental health issues and the higher rates of death by suicide for men," Myers wrote in an email.

"The topics really range," Myers says. "For example, they might study a mental illness that disproportionately affects women, such as eating disorders or depression. They may study the role gender plays in electability of political candidates. They may study interpersonal gender violence and its repercussions."

Misconceptions About Gender Studies

Some gender studies scholars and degree recipients say a frustrating myth about the academic discipline is that its mission is to denigrate masculinity. The field is not intrinsically antagonistic toward men, Howe says, because "everyone benefits without social norms forcing them into a box."

Mark Justad, a member of the religious studies faculty at Guilford College in North Carolina and director of its Center for Principled Problem Solving, says gender studies offers many lessons about cultural ideals surrounding masculinity.

"The flip side of gender inequality is this notion that boys and men have been limited in terms of the range of the humanity that they can express," he says.

Intellectual exploration in gender studies can help a man realize that he is no less capable of showing compassion for others than a woman simply because of his gender, Justad says. "The capacity for bonding isn't limited to any one specific gender, and that's important if we want to raise boys and men that have the ability to be empathetic and to sustain good relationships."

Exploration of gender studies can help someone reflect on what type of person he or she would like to be, without feeling hindered by gender stereotypes, Justad notes. "It opens the door to a deeper and broader understanding of one's humanity."

He adds: "Gender is a significant part of what it means to be human. Why wouldn't you want to understand it?"

Robert J. Mundy, coauthor of the book "Gender, Sexuality, and the Cultural Politics of Men’s Identity in the New Millennium: Literacies of Masculinity," wrote in an email that "the misnomer that gender studies is a discipline for women remains a concern we must contend with as a field."

Mundy, an associate professor of English at Pace University in New York, suggests that some men avoid engaging in conversations about gender or worry that challenging gender norms will threaten their masculine identity.

"So, no, gender studies and feminism are not based on this widely held but false belief that such work will be the 'end' of men or that men will somehow be 'replaced,'" he says. "The field is also expansive and ever-growing, though some might believe otherwise."

What You Can Do With a Gender Studies Degree

Gender studies degree recipients often choose to work for advocacy organizations and charities that frequently assist women — such as domestic violence shelters — or similar groups that help lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals.

An undergraduate degree in gender studies can also provide preparation for graduate school in a wide array of fields, including medicine. Gender studies grads frequently become lawyers , social workers, or therapists.

Having a gender studies major doesn't mean you have to pursue a career that relates to gender, says Howe, since someone with this type of liberal arts education can do a variety of jobs that involve critical thinking.

Howe notes that many gender-focused nonprofit roles pay low wages. But one lucrative way to use a gender studies degree and focus directly on sex equity issues, she says, is to provide strategic advice to companies on how they can promote fairness in the workplace and guard against sex-based bias.

A degree in gender studies cultivates a person's empathy and creativity, Howe says, adding that an understanding of gender and race issues is crucial for success in the modern business world. "You really can't run a business today if you are clueless about those things."

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Any college or university student who majors in social sciences is commonly offered courses in gender studies that examine social and cultural issues from a gender perspective. The idea of such discipline has originated from the concept of rights of women and the feminist movement and is focused on educating learners about the importance of gender equity. If you choose this subject to your academic plan, be prepared to write a gender studies essay that intersects different perspectives of diversity.

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👩🏼‍🤝‍👩🏽 Gender Studies Essays

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Gender medicine for children and young people is built on shaky foundations. Here is how we strengthen services

Linked News

Guidelines on gender related treatment flouted standards and overlooked poor evidence, finds Cass review

Linked Feature

“Medication is binary, but gender expressions are often not”—the Hilary Cass interview

  • Related content
  • Peer review
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  • Independent Review into Gender Identity Services for Children and Young People

Improving the evidence base for young people is an essential next step, writes Hilary Cass, as her independent review into gender identity services for children and young people is published

Medicine is a science of uncertainty and an art of probability

–William Osler

William Osler’s much quoted aphorism is well known to every medical student. Living with medicine’s many uncertainties would be intolerable for doctors and for patients without some coping mechanisms. In Osler’s time, doctors relied on a mix of knowledge, custom, and paternalism to hide uncertainties from patients, and provide treatments they had learnt from their mentors. Nowadays we have the three pillars of evidence based medicine to lean on: the integration of best available research evidence with clinical expertise, and patient values and preferences.

My independent review into gender identity services for children and young people is published today. 1 When conducting the review, I found that in gender medicine those pillars are built on shaky foundations.

I took on this review in full knowledge of the controversial nature of the subject, the polarisation and toxicity of the debate, and the weakness of the evidence base. Gender care for children and young people had moved from a “watchful waiting” approach to treatment with puberty blockers from Tanner stage 2 for those with early onset gender incongruence, followed by masculinising or feminising hormones from age 16. My review launched while the Divisional Court was considering the case of Bell v Tavistock, which focused on whether young people under 18 have the competence or capacity to give consent to endocrine treatments. 2 Competence or capacity is only one part of the process of informed consent. My review also had to consider the other components: the evidence underpinning the treatments, and the clinical judgements which might lead to recommending an endocrine pathway.

Since my interim report was published in March 2022, the review has commissioned the University of York to conduct a series of systematic reviews appraising the evidence on the characteristics of the population of children and young people presenting to gender services, and the outcomes of social transition, psychosocial interventions, and endocrine treatments. 3 4 5 The review also commissioned an appraisal of international guidelines and a survey of international practice.

The findings of the series of systematic reviews are disappointing. They suggest that the majority of clinical guidelines have not followed the international standards for guideline development. 6 The World Professional Association of Transgender Healthcare (WPATH) has been highly influential in directing international practice, although its guidelines were found by the University of York’s appraisal to lack developmental rigour and transparency. 6 Early versions of two international guidelines—the Endocrine Society 2009 and WPATH 7—influenced nearly all other guidelines, with the exception of recent Finnish and Swedish guidelines; the latter were the only guidelines to publish details of how developers reviewed and utilised the evidence base, and the decision making process behind their recommendations. 6 7 8

The rationale for early puberty suppression remains unclear, with weak evidence regarding the impact on gender dysphoria and mental or psychosocial health. 9 The effect on cognitive and psychosexual development remains unknown. 9 The clearest indication is in helping a small number of birth registered males, whose gender incongruence started in early childhood, to pass in adult life by preventing the irreversible changes of male puberty.

The use of masculinising/feminising hormones in those under the age of 18 also presents many unknowns, despite their longstanding use in the adult transgender population. However, the lack of long term follow-up data on those commencing treatment at an earlier age means we have inadequate information about the range of outcomes for this group. 10 11 In particular, we lack follow up data on the more recent cohort of predominantly birth-registered females who frequently have a range of co-occurring conditions including adverse childhood experiences, autism, and a range of mental health challenges. Filling this knowledge gap would be of great help to the young people wanting to make informed choices about their treatment.

A key message from my review is that gender questioning children and young people seeking help from the NHS must be able to access a broad-based holistic assessment delivered by a multi-professional team. Notwithstanding the pressures on CAMHS and paediatric services, these young people should not receive a lower standard of care than other similarly distressed adolescents. This means access to a wide range of services, including autism diagnostic services, psychosocial support, and evidence based interventions for commonly co-occurring conditions such as depression, anxiety, and eating disorders. Regardless of whether or not they chose a social or medical transition in the longer term, they need support to help them thrive and fulfil their life goals.

The challenge of the assessment process is that while it may direct a broader care plan, it does not give certainty about which young people will ultimately develop a long term trans identity and which will resolve their gender-related distress in other ways. Young people are in a state of neurocognitive and psychosexual development into their mid-20s. Some mature faster than others, and we have no way of knowing when the majority will be in a settled identity. The review has spoken to young adults who are happy and empowered by their decision to medically transition and to others who have regrets.

The ethical challenges are great. Some young adults have told us that they wish they had known when they were younger that there are many more ways of being trans than following a binary medical transgender pathway. The fastest growing identity under the trans umbrella is non-binary. There is almost no research on this group, many of whom want a spectrum of treatments falling short of full medical transition. This raises questions about what medicine can do, what medicine should do, and more specifically what the NHS should do.

Improving the evidence base for this population of young people is an essential next step. Fortunately, because this review has been an iterative process with interim recommendations, the new regional services which are being established to expand provision for the population will have a research structure embedded from the outset, data collection will be integral to the service model, and a prospective puberty blocker study is already in development.

I very much hope that this strong multi disciplinary team model, with networked service delivery and embedded research, will encourage more clinicians with experience in child and adolescent health to work in this evolving area of clinical practice.

Competing interests: none declared.

Provenance and peer review: not commissioned, not peer reviewed.

  • ↵ The Cass Review. Independent review of gender identity services for children and young people. April 2024
  • ↵ v Tavistock B. (Divisional Court) [2020] EWHC 3274 (Admin)
  • ↵ Archives of Disease in Childhood. Gender identity service series.
  • Taylor J. ,
  • ↵ Council for Choices in Healthcare in Finland 2020. Medical treatment methods for dysphoria associated with variations in gender identity in minors – recommendation. : Council for Choices in Healthcare in Finland 2020
  • ↵ The Swedish National Board of Health and Welfare 2022.
  • ↵ Taylor, J., Mitchell, A., Hall, R., et al (2024). Interventions to suppress puberty in adolescents experiencing gender dysphoria or incongruence: a systematic review. Archives of Disease in Childhood, Published Online First: April 2024. doi:
  • ↵ Taylor, J., Mitchell, A., Hall, R., et al (2024). Masculinising and feminising hormone interventions for adolescents with gender dysphoria or incongruence: a systematic review. Archives of Disease in Childhood, Published Online First: April 2024. doi:
  • ↵ Taylor, J., Hall, R., Langton, T., et al (2024). Care pathways of children and adolescents referred to specialist gender services: a systematic review. Archives of Disease in Childhood, Published Online First: April 2024. doi:

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Third World Feminism & Fashion

By Jessie Sutton

Third World Feminism is a paradigm which challenges the monolith of Western feminism, recognizing the diversity of women’s cultural experiences and oppression, and thus the diversity of solutions and perspectives needed to achieve gender equality within global order. Third World Feminism represents a sort of global intersectionality. Kimberle Crenshaw said of intersectional feminism, “the space has to be open and there has to be a sense of receptivity among the sisterhood, but I really don’t want other women to feel that it’s their responsibility to theorize what’s happening to us. It’s up to us to consistently tell those stories, articulate what difference the difference makes, so it’s incorporated within feminism” (Adewunmi). Although Crenshaw is referring to the representation of women of color in American feminist spaces, to me this quotation encapsulates so much of the role Third World Feminism plays globally. It quiets Western feminism’s misguided theorizations of what every woman needs and shows that what different women need is vastly varied and complex. I believe cultural variances and cross-cultural misunderstandings around fashion can be used as a microcosm to study the global necessity of Third World Feminism.

Throughout my life in America, I have seen and experienced many different pursuits of the empowerment which the fashion industry supposedly offers women. There are so many interpretations of what this empowerment looks like, especially between subcultures. I grew up strictly and devoutly Mormon, and the Church taught my female peers and me that our modesty in clothing was of the utmost importance. I would never describe the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints as a feminist organization. However, many of my leaders and peers there truly felt like our conservative dress code empowered women and allowed them to be appreciated and noticed for their thoughts and actions instead of their bodies, somehow shielding them from the male gaze and objectification while still implicitly catering to the desires of a patriarchal organization and accepting that one of our biggest jobs was to wear the right clothes. Still, at the time, I found this very comfortable. The fact that people never even saw so much as a glimpse of leg above my kneecaps, or even a bare shoulder, made me feel special, secure, and completely powerful.  My friends from school thought my modesty was bizarre. On long hot summer days during band camp, they’d see me wearing pants or capris and sleeved shirts, sweating, and make some pitied, loaded comment about how sad it was that I really thought I needed to dress that way. It made me so mad; I felt like they didn’t respect or even try to understand my faith. On dance nights, I’d see them shivering and pulling short, sleeveless dresses up or down too often to get into any song for the entire length of it. I would have some pitied, loaded thought about how sad it was they felt they needed to dress like that. I’m sure it would have made them mad. I didn’t respect, or even try to understand, their choices. We were judging each other based on standards that made no sense in the other person’s world.

This is, in some ways, analogous to the ways Western feminists project their values and ideals onto cultures they know nothing about, such as the Western feminist’s impulse to “save” the Muslim woman from her burqa (Abu-Lughod). I want to be clear that I am not, here, comparing my lived experience and critiques of Mormonism to Islam. I do not know enough about the religion or the culture to do so, and even if I did, it wouldn’t be my place. However, I do think it’s worth pointing out that when non-Islamic women try to apply their ideals to a Muslim woman, they risk hurting her by taking away something that is safe, important, and liberating to her (Abu-Lughod). This Western judgment is made even more problematic when we realize that we see Muslim women as being monolithically oppressed and without agency; we get so angry because we do not even see people who are different than us as being capable of choice. A Muslim woman feeling as though she cannot wear a hijab is just as, if not more, oppressive than an expectation that she will. In instances like these, Third World Feminism rightfully makes us stop and question ourselves before our intentions to help end up harming.

As it turns out, going from a good Mormon girl, to someone who wants to be as visibly butch and queer as possible, to someone who just wants to blend in took me through a lot of clothes.  At different parts of my life, being able to adorn myself in all these wildly different personal expressions was amazing, and helped me to feel safe and comfortable in the face of the varied challenges I faced. However, I never even stopped to think about the effect the discarded tools of my personal change – all my old clothes—would  have on other people.

In the short documentary Unravel, director Meghna Gupta takes to a garment recycling plant in Panipat, India, where we meet the women who process American’s cast-off clothing. Here, we see another example of people assuming the status of women in another culture based on clothing. While modern, sex-positive American feminists often think of lingerie as empowering, the Indian women express horror at the obvious discomfort. One worker explains, “we find these really strange things, knickers. They come with pearls and fake stones stitched on them. Some poor helpless thing must be forced to wear them abroad.” On a more substantive level though, most of these women also recognize the extreme privilege the previous owners of this clothing enjoy. This quote really stuck out to me: “Western women are so respected. God’s given them a very good life. I often wonder what it would be like to have a life like that. But I work with clothes all day, so I’m always looking at them.” Although buying, wearing, and throwing out clothes seem inconsequential outside of a personal scale, they are not. These actions have global effects. For most of my life, I have participated in the fashion industry looking at what gives me power without considering the structural costs of my choices. This is the necessity of Third World Feminism, to study the vastly varied cultural and structural fabrics of all women’s lives, recognizing that individualistic Western ideas of empowerment do not translate to universal progress. 


Adewunmi, Bim. “Kimberle Crenshaw on Intersectionality: ‘I wanted to come up with an everyday metaphor that anyone could use.’” 2 April 2014.

Abu-Lughod, Lila. “Do Muslim Women Really Need Saving? Anthropological Reflections on Cultural Relativism and Its Others.” In American Anthropologist. 104(3):783-790. September 2002.

Unravel. Directed by Meghna Gupta. Produced by Meghna Gupta & Gigi Berardi. Aeon Video, 2016. Youtube.  

  • Abortion Debate – A. Zia
  • Pride Flag Photography – M. Ampudia
  • Marsha Aizumi Interview – B. Walker
  • Anti-Christian Feminism is Anti-Third-World Feminism – M. Morgan
  • Gender Gap in STEM – N. Bollig
  • Woman's Place is Behind the Typewriter – K. Kirkendall
  • Gender & Patriarchy – G. Esparza
  • Third World Feminism & the Hijab – M. Lavery
  • Third World Feminism & Fashion – J. Sutton
  • LGBT Healthcare – K. Green
  • Topless Day Parade – J. Johnson
  • Rec Center Dress Code – G. Davis
  • Liliana Quinn Interview – R. Cobrea
  • Natalie Provancal Interview – C. Eaton
  • Ashlee Edwards Interview – D. Thompson
  • Levi Franklin Interview – R. Goergen
  • Xan Cordova Interview – S. Bundy
  • Rowan Thomas Interview – K. Green
  • Feminist Resources Page

Disclaimer: The opinion expressed in each article is the opinion of its author and does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the PUGS editors, Gender Studies program, or UNC. Therefore, PUGS e-zine carries no responsibility for the opinion expressed thereon.

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Gender Studies: Gender Stereotypes Qualitative Research

Gender roles are likely to make people develop various stereotypes. For example, there are roles that are uniquely and separately designated for males and females. On the same note, masculinity refers to physical characteristics of a man, and therefore, if a female has masculine features, she may be perceived indifferently in society. This explains why the media has a tendency of branding people with masculine features to be gays or homosexuals. In most cases, the print media and radios do not have capacities to stereotype people.

However, televisions and movies have highly been used to categorize people as gay, feminine or muscular in a negative manner. The media has for a long time been associated with creation of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) themes. Meem, Mitchell and Jonathan (2010) observe that the study of LGBT is important because it enlightens people on how society has become dynamic.

The media has also been perceived as the center where negative perceptions about this group of people are created. As a result, there are numerous stereotypes associated with this category of people in the modern society. Out of the many categories of media broadcasts, television and movies are widely known to reinforce negative perceptions on people who belong to LGBT category.

Stereotyping people can be harmful because it can transform slight assumptions on people to perceived realities (Meem, Mitchell & Jonathan, 2010).

Such stereotypes are capable of perpetuating inequality and social prejudice in society. However, it is imperative to note that stereotyping through the media is sometimes inevitable. In the case of television, stereotyping occurs through advertisements, news bulletins and entertainment. For films, stereotyping has been used as a form of marketing. The stereotypical codes give TV and film audiences a common and quick way of understanding a particular person.

In most cases, stereotypical codes focus on ethnicity, social role, sexual orientation, occupation, race and gender. Most often, the groups that are being stereotyped may not defend themselves. They are usually the minority and raising their voices may make little impact. However, there are some measures which have been instituted to help reduce stereotyping.

There are those who have a common tendency of thinking that the way people think and cat can be uniform across the globe (Carroll, 2009). This is not true because people are diverse and their mindsets also vary. This is mostly applicable in homosexuality whereby gays and lesbians are viewed to be outside the mainstream or dominant culture.

The dominant culture in this case refers to marriage and love relationships between people of different gender. With the emergence of gothic culture, it is probable to categorize them as being weird or abnormal. Same sex marriages and behavioral patterns are prevalent in virtually all cultures. As Carroll (2009) documents, “same sex behavior is found in every culture, and its prevalence remains about the same ” (p.290).

Media is a viable source of information in society such that televisions and films are very influential due to both sound and visual effect. These two mediums of communication are crucial in symbolic annihilations of lesbians and gays.

According to Vollmer (2003), films and TVs tend to avoid integrating gays and lesbians in their programs for fear of offending advertisers, target audiences as well as investors. This kind of portrayal is not desirable because it denies them their human rights. The fact that they belong to a new generation culture does not mean that they should not enjoy their rights.

With their visual effects, the two mediums of communication cultivate a perception that homosexuals are bad elements in society. They should not be given a chance to be heard if they have views to rise. Due to fear of loosing audience and revenues, these two mediums of communication edit their programs to extent that audiences place homosexuals under the category of abhorred people.

The issue of sexual orientation has been used as an indicator of villainy and deviance in children’s movies (Vollmer, 2003). If children are to be shown movies that portray homosexuals as bad characters in society, then, they would grow up hating them. A negative perception is cultivated in such children.

Such kind of stereotypes can instigate violence in society. For example, a gay male may not be welcomed in a party. It is only a question of ethics. Homosexuals are also put as either victims or villains in movies. They are depicted as belonging to a weird or foreign culture that cannot be tolerated. It is rare to have a movie that has the main character being gay or lesbian.

If a girl begins to demonstrate some signs of male characteristics, she is referred to as a ‘tom-boy’. It is like a taboo to show such kinds of signs in a girl. On the other hand, if a male does not have masculine features, he is seen as an outcast. All of these perceptions are obtained from the media, and especially televisions and movies.

According to Mehta and Hay (2005), media houses have for a long time helped to construct and reinforce stereotypical ideas about masculinity and men. From what is portrayed in the media, it is possible for people to dismiss others on the basis of whether they have masculinity or are feminine (Ferrey, 2008).

Televisions and movies through their visual effects help define ‘a real man’. During advertisements, there are some particular aspects of man that are portrayed. A man who fails to have certain forms of male features may not be shown on TV or may not be considered for a film (Cohen & Hall, 2009).

Moreover, the marketing companies have started to object men in the same manner women have been objected them for long. The fitness of a man, his muscles and general outlook count a lot in determining whether he is to feature in a program or not.

A research study titled, Attitudes toward stereotypical versus counter-stereotypical gay men and lesbians indicates that 662 confessed gays, lesbians and bisexuals had contended with victimization in the society (Cohen & Hall, 2009). 20% of those reported having faced criminals because of their sexual orientation.

In the year 2005, Federal Bureau had reported 1,171 hate crime offenses of people perceived to be of homosexual orientation. This is the kind of segregation that has existed in the society. The major problem is because media and mostly electronic media show homosexuals as people who have undertaken ‘abnormal’ directions of life. They are not part of the mainstream culture.

The only solution to this is for governments to put up institutions that can help people understand that everybody ought to enjoy unlimited human rights. Forums can also help eradicated the notions cultivated by media about gay and lesbians and institute in the minds of people a culture of tolerance.

To recap it all, it is imperative to note that gender stereotypes are discouraging the minorities to invest in businesses (Ferrey, 2008) . No particular person should be segregated on the basis of masculinity. However, the contemporary society seems not to be careful on categorizing people on gender and most importantly on femininity and masculinity. The best solution out of this tricky situation is to invest in education of young generation on how to accept all categories of people in society.

Carroll, J. L. (2009). Sexuality now: embracing diversity . Belmont: CengageBrain Learning.

Cohen, T. R. & Hall, D. L. (2009 ), Attitudes toward stereotypical versus counter-stereotypical gay men and lesbians . Web.

Ferrey, P.A. (2008). Gender Stereotypes persist . Web.

Meem, D. T., Michelle A. G., & Jonathan A. (2010). Finding Out: An Introduction to LGBT Studies . Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Mehta, V. P. & Hay, K. (2005). A superhero for gays? Gay masculinity and green lantern. The Journal of American Culture , 28(4), 390-404.

Vollmer, M. L. (2003). Gender transgression and villainy in animated film. Taylor & Francis Journal , 1(2), 89-109.

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IvyPanda . "Gender Studies: Gender Stereotypes." December 25, 2023.

  • The Evolution of the LGBT Rights
  • LGBT Discrimination Research Prospects: An Analysis
  • Queer (LGBT) Teenage Bullying at School
  • Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Sexuality in the Hispanic Culture
  • Durable Inequalities in Relation to the LGBT Community in the United States
  • Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Ideation, Correlations With ‘Suicidality’
  • Members of the LGBT Community
  • LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender) in Canada, Japan and China
  • Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender at Life Stages
  • Social Work With Disabled Representatives of LGBT Community
  • Women in Early America: Struggle, Survival, and Freedom in a New World
  • The Role of Media in shaping the image of gender in the Society
  • Reasons of the High Homosexual Marriage Rate
  • Women in Sports
  • BEAR Magazine: Lifestyle Entertainment for Gay Men


2024 Audre Lorde Prize winners announced

The Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies (WGSS) program has announced the winners of the 2024 Audre Lorde Prize.

The awards are named in honor of Audre Lorde (1934-1992), an intersectional feminist writer and civil rights activist who wrote the foundational text "Sister Outsider" (1984). Awards are given annually.

Designed to recognize excellence in scholarship in women, gender and sexuality studies at the undergraduate level, these winning submissions displayed excellent liberal arts scholarship and creativity, according to the judges.

The winners were selected in three categories by outside judges.

Long analytical essay

First place: Lainey Terfruchte , "Escaping from Myth: Denver’s Reclamation of Love in Toni Morrison’s Beloved" (instructor: Dr. Ashley Burge). Terfruchte is a senior from Bloomington, Ill., majoring in creative writing and English.

Second place: Bethany Abrams , "Sinning as Empowerment: Reclaiming God as a Black, Queer Woman in Alice Walker’s The Color Purple" (instructor: Dr. Ashley Burge). Abrams is a senior from Tinley Park, Ill., majoring in creative writing, English and psychology.

Honorable mention: Krisha Silwal , "Navigating Nepal's Legal Requirements for Transgender Inclusion Beyond Labels" (instructor: Dr. Kiki Kosnick). Silwal is a sophomore from Kathmandu, Nepal, majoring in business analytics; economics; and women, gender, and sexuality studies.

Short analytical essay

First place: Paige Meyer , "Inside the Glass Closet: Analyzing the Representation of Queer Romantic Relationship in the Literature of Virginia Woolf" (instructor: Dr. Laura Greene). Meyer is a senior from St. Peter, Minn., majoring in sociology and anthropology and women, gender, and sexuality studies.

Second place: Kazi Uzayr Razin , "The Future is Here" (instructor: Dr. M Wolff). Razin is a sophomore from Dhaka, Bangladesh, majoring in engineering (B.S.E.).

Honorable mention: Audre Lewis , "Care Ethics for Neurodiverse Students — Rethinking the Approach to Accommodations" (instructor: Dr. Jane Simonsen). Lewis is a senior from Denver, Colo., majoring in women, gender, and sexuality studies.

Creative expression

First place: Ava Jackson , "Exploring the Stereotypes of Gender and Sexuality in Ballet and its Impact on the Dance Community" (instructor: Dr. Jennifer Heacock-Renaud). Jackson is a junior from Oak Park, Ill., majoring in English; psychology; and women, gender, and sexuality studies.

Second place: Allison McPeak , "Mad Young Creature: A Photostory" (instructor: Dr. Jennifer Popple). McPeak is a junior from St. Charles, Ill., majoring in English and theatre.

Honorable mention: Sarah Welker , "We All Bleed the Same Blood" (instructor: Dr. Jennifer Popple). Welker is a sophomore from Tinley Park, Ill., majoring in art and graphic design.

If you have news, send it to [email protected] ! We love hearing about the achievements of our alumni, students and faculty.


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  6. CSS Gender studies past papers MCQs


  1. Gender Studies: Foundations and Key Concepts

    Gender studies developed alongside and emerged out of Women's Studies. This non-exhaustive list introduces readers to scholarship in the field. The icon indicates free access to the linked research on JSTOR. Gender studies asks what it means to make gender salient, bringing a critical eye to everything from labor conditions to healthcare ...


    Discourses of gender unfold not only in explicit talk about gender, but in talk about things (like burnt toast) that may be grafted on to gender. If enough people joke together continually about men's ineptness in the kitchen, women's role as cooks takes center stage, along with men's incompetence in the kitchen.

  3. Free Gender Studies Essay Examples & Topic Ideas

    A gender studies essay should concentrate on the interaction between gender and other unique identifying features. Along with gender identity and representation, the given field explores race, sexuality, religion, disability, and nationality. Gender is a basic social characteristic that often goes unnoticed.

  4. Essays

    Transgender Studies Quarterly 9.2: 143-159. Publications, Essays. Gender, Transgender Studies. Jiwoon Yulee. "A Feminist Critique of Labor Precarity and Neoliberal Forgetting: Life Stories of Feminized Laboring Subjects in South Korea," Feminist Studies, Special Issue: Feminism & Capitalism, 2021, 47:3.

  5. Introduction to Women, Gender, Sexuality Studies

    Reviewed by Meredith Clark-Wiltz, Professor and Hon. Roger D. Branigin Chair, Franklin College on 1/23/24. In just over 100 or so pages, this brief textbook offers a solid introduction to the field of women, gender, and sexuality studies in a format that is accessible to undergraduate students. Primarily featuring the work of sociologists, it ...

  6. Introduction to Women's and Gender Studies

    WGS.101 Introduction to Women's and Gender Studies: Citation Style for Essays. pdf. 53 kB WGS.101 Introduction to Women's and Gender Studies: Essay 2 Sample Outline. pdf. 53 kB WGS.101 Introduction to Women's and Gender Studies: Essay 3 Sample Exhibit. pdf. 53 kB ...

  7. JSTOR: Viewing Subject: Gender Studies

    Nashim: A Journal of Jewish Women's Studies & Gender Issues 1998 - 2020 Race, Gender & Class 1995 - 2018 Race, Sex & Class 1993 - 1994 Spectrum: A Journal on Black Men ... Essays on Experience at the Edge 2020 Analysing American Advice Books for Single Mothers Raising Sons: Essentialism, Culture and Guilt ...

  8. Gender studies and interdisciplinarity

    Gender studies are an integral part of this interdisciplinary movement that offers theoretical and methodological advantages in understanding multiply constituted social worlds and addressing ...

  9. Gender studies

    Gender studies is an interdisciplinary academic field devoted to analysing gender identity and gendered representation. Gender studies originated in the field of women's studies, concerning women, ... Essays on Art, Life and Death (Critical Voices in Art, Theory and Culture).


    launch of the Centre for Gender Studies at the University of Cambridge, and featurescontributionsfromthe Diane Middlebrook andCarlDjerassiVisiting Professors to the University. Jude Browne is the Jessica and Peter Frankopan Director of the University ... essays sinks in; just as there is no ...

  11. 113 Gender Roles Essay Topics & Examples

    Gender roles essay topics and titles may include: The history of gender roles and their shifts throughout the time. Male and female roles in society. Gender roles in literature and media. How a man and a woman is perceived in current society. The causes and outcomes of gender discrimination.

  12. Gender

    How often do introductory courses in gender and sexuality studies begin by rehearsing a variation of the following model: "Sex ≠ Gender ≠ Sexuality"? And how pervasive has this relation of embodiment, identity, and desire become given the global export of Anglophone, US epistemologies and taxonomies of gender and sexuality? Part of what is at stake in confrontations over gender is the ...

  13. How to Write Women's & Gender Studies Essay

    In this article, you will find a complete step-by-step gender studies essay guide on how to write an impressive Women's and Gender Studies essay that will help you successfully complete this challenging assignment and impress your professor. Besides, we will provide you with a list of interesting essay topics for your inspiration.

  14. Essay 3: Final Reflection

    From 1848 Onward: The Struggle for Gender Equality in the U.S. (historical and contemporary focus) Gender, Work, and Families (more contemporary focus) Write a short informative essay/guide (4 pp. / 1000 words) to orient viewers to the gender issues and critical questions in the exhibit, drawing explicitly upon at least six course readings.

  15. Gender

    In American studies and cultural studies, as in the humanities more broadly, scholars use the term "gender" when they wish to expose a seemingly neutral analysis as male oriented and when they wish to turn critical attention from men to women. In this way, a gender analysis exposes the false universalization of male subjectivity and remarks on the differences produced by the social marking ...

  16. Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies

    Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies. I find the most important thing about Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies is that feminism is measured as a movement to end oppression. And, it is a movement that should not even exist. We live in the 21st century after-all, and we as a society should be beyond this. So feminism is here, and will remain ...

  17. What Gender Studies Is and How to Use the Degree

    Gender studies is an interdisciplinary field of study that incorporates insights from the traditional humanities subjects, social sciences and physical sciences. Competing theories about gender ...

  18. Gender Studies Essay Examples

    Gender Studies Essay Topics and Sample Papers for Inspired Writing. 9 samples on this topic . Any college or university student who majors in social sciences is commonly offered courses in gender studies that examine social and cultural issues from a gender perspective. The idea of such discipline has originated from the concept of rights of ...

  19. Gender Studies Essay Examples

    Subject: 👩🏼‍🤝‍👩🏽 Gender Studies. Pages: 2. Words: 611. Rating: 4,8. Sex reassignment surgery is defined as the process through which individuals that demonstrate gender dysphoria transition to a different gender. Individuals suffering from gender dysphoria…. 🏳️‍🌈 Transgender Health Medicine 💋 Human Sexuality.

  20. Gender Studies and Society

    Gender issues such as equality between men and women and gender roles evoke strong reactions in the contemporary world. Much like race, ethnic, and class stereotypes, gender stereotypes, exclusion, and discrimination are central to politics in many countries. We will write a custom essay on your topic. 809 writers online.

  21. Gender medicine for children and young people is built on shaky

    Improving the evidence base for young people is an essential next step, writes Hilary Cass, as her independent review into gender identity services for children and young people is published Medicine is a science of uncertainty and an art of probability -William Osler William Osler's much quoted aphorism is well known to every medical student. Living with medicine's many uncertainties ...

  22. Sutton Essay

    Disclaimer: The opinion expressed in each article is the opinion of its author and does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the PUGS editors, Gender Studies program, or UNC. Therefore, PUGS e-zine carries no responsibility for the opinion expressed thereon.

  23. Gender Studies Essay Examples

    Talk about the theory and practice of gender studies and explore the main points that gender activists argue. We Can Help You Craft Your Gender Studies Research Paper. Coming to our database is a great way to get fresh insights and ideas for your essay gender studies.

  24. Gender Studies: Gender Stereotypes

    Gender Studies: Gender Stereotypes Qualitative Research. Gender roles are likely to make people develop various stereotypes. For example, there are roles that are uniquely and separately designated for males and females. On the same note, masculinity refers to physical characteristics of a man, and therefore, if a female has masculine features ...

  25. More students take gender studies, even as it comes under attack

    Women and gender studies programs are increasingly under legislative attack, yet the number of students taking courses is growing, a new report finds. Professors of women and gender studies nationwide say that students' interest in the field is blossoming, even as their work is being impacted by right-wing criticism, according to a new report by the National Women's Studies Association (NWSA).

  26. 2024 Audre Lorde Prize winners announced

    The Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies (WGSS) program has announced the winners of the 2024 Audre Lorde Prize.. The awards are named in honor of Audre Lorde (1934-1992), an intersectional feminist writer and civil rights activist who wrote the foundational text "Sister Outsider" (1984). Awards are given annually. Designed to recognize excellence in scholarship in women, gender and sexuality ...