Political Science 350 A: The Politics of Gender

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To save paper and improve access to key texts, all the documents for this course will be posted on this site.

Articles posted are for individual academic use only and must not be reproduced or distributed. Please do not give the site password to anyone not in the class. Go to posted articles.


[Old news can now be found at the very bottom of the page.]

The last blogpost is due on Tuesday December 2 at 1.50pm. Please e-mail the blogpost to me as a Word document. Note that there is no final exam for this course.

Two examples of student blogposts are now available on the blog page!

As of Fall 2014, course evaluations will be completed on-line, rather than on paper. Class time must still be devoted to filling in the evaluations, and on the last day of class, December 2, I’ll leave the room while you complete them. By November 27 you should receive an e-mail inviting you to a personalized evaluation webpage. To complete the evaluation in class you will need this e-mail and a device connecting you to the web. If you don’t complete the evaluation in class you can still do it any time between November 27 and December 3 midnight.

Required boilerplate: “The Faculty of Arts is committed to delivering high quality courses by excellent instructors, and this evaluation process is critical to ensuring this outcome. The results help instructors, departments, and faculties initiate constructive change in curriculum and instruction. In addition, the results are one important factor in decisions affecting the career of your instructor.”

Starter documents

1. Syllabus.

2. Reading list (with complete bibliographic references)

3. Handout on how to read theory.

Weekly information

First class: September 4

Here’s our first listening, reading, and discussion-based exercise

Heather Cassils

Week 1: September 9/11

Two short articles to read for September 9 class [linked below]. Thursday class continues the discussion.

Reading questions:

Leslie Feinberg. 1998. “We Are All Works In Progress.” This excerpt is from Feinberg’s book Trans Liberation, which is a pastiche of short speeches and commentaries by sex-gender non-conformists.

1. Feinberg suggests that we should all have greater freedom of choice about our gender expression, no matter what our birth sex. Is there anything about your gender expression you would like to change? Do you think women and men are equally invested in changing their genders?
2. Have you ever, like Feinberg, been discriminated against or attacked because of your gender expression? What did this experience mean to you?

Anne Fausto-Sterling. 1993. “The Five Sexes: Why Male and Female are Not Enough.”

1. What are the five sexes?
2. Fausto-Sterling details a number of legal and medical efforts in western countries to make all human bodies fit the two sex model. Why does she think twentieth century physicians, in particular, undertook these efforts?
3. At the end of her article, Fausto-Sterling imagines a world with multiple sexes and “sexualities.” What would need to change to make this world a reality? Do you think it would be a better world?

Jean Renoir Sewing [1898]

Lecture notes

Week 2: September 16/18

Tuesday. Simone de Beauvoir’s Introduction to The Second Sex [1948].

Reading questions:

1a. The Second Sex opens with Beauvoir grappling with the question of whether women should identify as women. What options does she run through, and why does she think that “no woman can claim without bad faith to be situated beyond her sex”?
1b. “The man represents both the positive and the neuter” What do you think Beauvoir means?
1c.  What is “the Other”? What, then, is the relation between men and women, and what makes it a specific relation different to other historical relations of power?
2. How, according to Beauvoir, do men profit from women’s alterity? Why do women accede to or even embrace it?

Lecture notes on Beauvoir

Thursday: Judith Squires, “Politics Beyond Boundaries: A Feminist Perspective” [2004].

Reading questions:

1. What two views of politics does Squires present? Which one of these views has been taken up by feminist scholars, and why?
2. What is “the public/private distinction”?
3. What examples does Squires provide of issues that she and other feminists would consider “political” but other (historical and even some contemporary) thinkers might not?

Lecture notes

Simone de Beauvoir

Week 3: September 23/25

Tuesday: R. W. Connell, “Sexual Character” [1987], with a focus on the final section, “Hegemonic Masculinity and Emphasized Femininity.” Remember that this text was written about thirty years ago!

Reading questions:
1. Connell spends the first part of the article criticizing the idea of “sexual character”, and especially the psychological models used to demonstrate that it exists. What is sexual character, and what is wrong with a “unitary conception” of it?
2. Femininities and masculinities, Connell argues, are always plural. She even suggests that “there need not be any psychological traits which all femininities have in common and which distinguish them from all masculinities, or vice versa” [179]. So what actually unites “femininities” or “masculinities”?
3. What is hegemony? What is hegemonic masculinity? What is emphasized femininity? Why (according to Connell) is there no “hegemonic femininity”?
4. Can you identify any form of masculinity that you would consider “hegemonic” in 2014? What “subordinate masculinities” can you identify?

Lecture notes

Thursday: Winona Stevenson, “Colonialism and First Nations Women in Canada.” This article is assigned as useful historical background for those who don’t know much about the relations between patriarchal settler states and First Nations women. Look over the discussion questions and activities suggested at the end of the article. In particular:

1. “Discuss the relationship between the virgin/whore dichotomy and the Squaw Drudge/Indian Princess dichotomy. What similarities and differences exist between these archetypes? Whose interests are served? What is the relationship between patriarchy and colonialism, and how can these systems be understood as interlocking?”
2. “How have representations of ‘Indians’ been handled by regional media in your area over the last five years? How are the individuals and stories being portrayed? If you were to rework these representations differently, how would you do it and why?”

Andrea Smith, “Native American Feminism, Sovereignty, and Social Change.”

Reading questions:
1. If it is true that patriarchy is a colonial imposition on First Nations in the land we call Canada, does Smith believe that decolonization will end sexism?
2. “We must understand that attacks on Native women’s status are themselves attacks on Native sovereignty” [123]. What does Smith mean?
3. “Women of color have for too long been presented with the choices of either prioritizing racial justice or gender justice. This dualistic analysis fails to recognize that it is precisely through sexism and gender violence that colonialism and white supremacy have been successful” [127]. Explain.
4. Smith concludes by questioning the nation-state as the unquestioned locus of governance. Think of Judith Squires’ brief comments at the end of her article on “feminists'” ambivalent relation to the state. Could a First Nations’ feminism offer a more radical challenge to the primacy of the nation-state than Squires imagines, and could this be relevant even in societies that are not settler colonial?

Lecture notes


Week 4: September 30/October 2

Tuesday: Susan Moller Okin, “Gender, the Public, and the Private”

Reading questions:
1. What is “the public”? What is “the private,” according to Okin? Notice that she describes at least two ways the distinction is parsed in political theory.
2. Why does the use of the distinction between public and private in liberal political theory have negative consequences for women, according to Okin?
3. How have feminist critiques of the public/private distinction changed the topics and methods of political theory? What do feminists mean when they say, “the personal is political”?
4. What is privacy, and what is it good for (in general, and from any feminist perspective)?

Thursday: Discussion of Okin and related questions. SHORT PAPER #1 DUE by 1.50pm.

Lecture notes
Thursday discussion class: slides

Glenn Greenwald (the journalist who worked with Edward Snowden) on the value of privacy. Does reading Greenwald’s defence of privacy in the age of digital information surveillance by the state make you think any differently about Okin’s feminist argument about the public/private distinction?

Victorian domestic scene

Week 5: October 7/9

Tuesday October 7: Iris Marion Young, “Reflections on Families in the Age of Murphy Brown” (1997)

Reading questions:
1. What does marriage regulate, according to Young? What privileges and oppressions does it generate?
2. How does Young define “family”?
3. What alternative approaches to the legal regulation of families does Young dismiss? What is her policy alternative? Are you convinced by her justification for this alternative?
4. What is different in Canada in 2014 than in the mostly US context of the 1990s that Young describes?

Lecture notes
Tips for writing short papers

Thursday October 9: Arlie Russell Hochschild, “Global Care Chains and Emotional Surplus Value” (2000)

Reading questions:
1. What is a “global care chain”? What is “emotional surplus value”?
2. What does the existing literature on “globalization” focus on, according to Hochschild, and how does she hope to supplement it?
3. “Just as global capitalism helps create a Third World supply of mothering, so it creates a First World demand for it,” writes Hochschild. Explain the economic and social patterns she describes that underlie this supply/demand relation.
4. “The personal is global,” concludes Hochschild, riffing on the feminist slogan “the personal is political.” How does reading her analysis make you think differently about the arguments in Okin and Young?

Lecture notes


Week 6: October 14/16

Tuesday October 14: Lois Harder, “The State and the Friendships of the Nation” (2009). Dr. Harder will be joining us to give an interview about the writing of her article and to take your questions. Please come prepared with something to ask!

Reading questions:
1. What is the Alberta Adult Interdependent Relationships Act (AIRA)? What does it attempt to govern?
2. What is “neoliberalism”, in particular in its “roll-back” and “roll-out” forms? What has neoliberalism as a governing project done to state intervention on the family, according to Harder? In what respects is the AIRA a project of neoliberalism, according to Harder, and in what ways is it a socially conservative one? Is there anything progressive about it?
3. What is “conjugality”? What is the significance of debates about the meaning of conjugality to Harder’s argument?

Thursday October 16: Discussion led by Janet Phillips. No new reading. SHORT PAPER #2 DUE by 1.50pm.

The US Supreme Court on October 6 declined to hear appeals from five states on same-sex marriage question. Basically this means that there are fewer avenues of legal appeal now for opponents of same-sex marriage in the US, and more likelihood of success for those who want to challenge the lack of a right to marry someone of the same sex. (Of course, in Canada this has all been more or less settled since 2005.)

The text of the Alberta Adult Interdependent Relationships Act
And a little follow-up…My question to Lois Harder: “Where would one find a full list of all the rights and responsibilities that come along with being an AIP?”
Her answer: “Shocking though it is, there isn’t a complete list of the rights and responsibilities that come with being an AIP. There is some documentation from Legal Education Society of Alberta and from the Student Legal Resource Centre and then the legislation makes reference to other laws that had to be amended, but nowhere can one find the full list – rather like marriage as it turns out. In any event, AIPS and married spouses are regarded as the same for the purposes of the Family Law Act, the Intestate Succession act and the Dependents Relief Act – so that deals with issues of inheritance, support, parentage, custody and access – those being among the major issues  – and not property.”


Week 7: October 21/23

Tuesday October 21: Janine Brodie, “Canada’s 3-Ds: The Rise and Decline of the Gender-Based Policy Capacity” (2007). Dr. Brodie will be visiting the class to be interviewed about her article. Please come prepared with a question for her!

Reading questions:
1. “This chapter describes how, over the course of a generation, Canadians have witnessed both a remarkable rise and a precipitous decline in the importance attributed to gender in public policy and in the pursuit of the broader social goals of gender equality and inclusive citizenship” (166). Brodie seeks to explain one part of this decline, which she labels “the 3-Ds” of gender-based policy capacity. What is gender-based policy capacity, and what are these 3-Ds?
2. Brodie describes the mid-1980s as the “apex” of political influence for the Canadian women’s movement, and specifically of gender-based policy capacity. What policies, practices, institutions etc. were enabled at this high point?
3. What were the main factors contributing to the “delegitimization” of both feminist movements and gender-based federal public policy, according to Brodie?
4. Central to the “disappearance” of gender from public policy, Brodie argues, is the replacement of “women” with “children.” What does this substitution achieve, and fail to achieve?

Thursday October 23: Linda Trimble, “Assembling Women, Gendering Assemblies” (2008)
Reading questions:
1. Hannah Pitkin famously distinguished “descriptive” representation (being the same kind of person as those you represent) from “substantive” representation (representing the interests of a particular group). What is Trimble’s large thesis about the connection between these two kinds of representation?
2. What is critical mass theory, and what does Trimble say is wrong with it? What is proportions theory? What is “the trouble with numbers theories”?
3. Trimble surveys various justifications for thinking that women legislators do substantively represent women constituents. List what these are, and what objections/alternative perspectives she raises. (Consider, too, the question: do male legislators represent male constituents?)
4. Trimble argues that discussions about gender and representation need to be informed by the institutional context of the legislature. How so?

Oops! Some lines are missing from the bottom of the page in Trimble’s article as scanned:
p. 82, last line: “debates from 1972 to 1995 discovered that numbers matter less than party”
p. 83, last line: “(2006) found that the New Labour MPs freely engaged in a safer, less visible”
p. 90, last line: “on the status of women featured cross-party cooperation between women”
p. 91, last line: “women into the legislative chamber to challenge long-established, deeply”
p. 92, last line: “making decisions. By placing the focus on women, numbers theories release”
p. 93, last line: “legislatures. I have attempted to capture Young’s theory of representation”

Lecture notes


Week 8: October 28/30

Tuesday October 28: Mona Lena Krook, Joni Lovenduski, and Judith Squires, “Gender Quotas and Models of Political Citizenship” (2009)
Reading questions:
1. A “quota” is a certain minimum number or percentage of a whole that must have certain characteristics, so “gender quotas” in political science typically refers to rules about the minimum number/percentage of women who must be part of a particular political process or institution. What are reserved seats, party quotas, and legislative quotas? What are “soft quotas”?
2. What is controversial about gender quotas in politics?
3. The authors identify four models of citizenship, and suggest that the dominant model(s) in a particular country is likely to determine practices around gender quotas. Name the four models, and list the characteristics of each, reviewing the chart on p. 788, but also noting additional information in the text pp. 789-791.
4. The final, major section of the article draws links between support for quota policies and the models of citizenship. Why does the liberal citizenship model favour soft quotas? Why does a (French) republican citizenship model lead to legislative quotas? Why do party quotas dominate in countries with consociational-corporatist citizenship models (like Germany and Belgium)?

Lecture notes

Thursday October 30: Advice on blogpost assignments, and discussion. No new reading. SHORT PAPER #3 DUE by 1.50pm.

Lecture notes


Week 9: November 4/6

Tuesday November 4: Linda Trimble, “Melodrama and Gendered Mediation: Television Coverage of Women’s Leadership ‘Coups’ in Australia and New Zealand” (2014). Dr. Trimble will be visiting the class to be interviewed about her article. Please come prepared with a question for her!

Reading questions: 
1. The article’s main title is “melodrama and gendered mediation.” How does Trimble define mediation? How does she characterize melodrama?
2. Trimble’s method in this article is feminist discourse analysis. What evidence did she collect, and how did she approach interpreting it?
3. The medium of TV news comes together with the genre of melodrama, argues Trimble, to reinforce or create gendered stereotypes about women and men in political leadership positions (especially at the point of contest). Create two lists of the points Trimble makes about feminine stereotyping and masculine stereotyping, with reference to particular examples.

Julia Gillard’s 2012 misogyny speech

Thursday November 6: Optional reading: Yasmin Jiwani, “Doubling Discourses and the Veiled Other.” SHORT PAPER #4 DUE by 1.50pm.


Week 10: November 13

Thursday November 13: Cynthia Enloe, “Gender Makes the World Go Around: Where are the Women?” (2014)
Guest teacher: Janet Phillips


Week 11: November 18/20

Tuesday November 18: Anne Sisson Runyan and V. Spike Peterson, “Gender and Global Political Economy” (2014).

Reading questions:

This is a long and comprehensive chapter from a longstanding textbook on gender and international relations that had a new edition in 2014. We can’t hope to cover all the issues it mentions, so we’ll focus on the globalization of neoliberal economic formations and how they relate to work and gender (esp. 200-215).

1. Review the lecture notes/class notes on “neoliberalism” you have to date. Also review the class on global care chains. How do Runyan and Sisson enlarge your understanding of what neoliberalism is and why it might structure gender relations?
2. Some more critical reading questions: how do Runyan and Sisson use the terms “masculinized” and “feminized”? How do these terms relate to “men” and “women”? How do they suggest that consent to the various strategies of political economy they describe is secured (197-200), and is this an adequate account? How sustainable do you think the economic trends they describe are?

Thursday November 20: Discussion. No new reading. First blogpost assignment due.

Lecture notes
Some statistics on global consumption patterns. Or here. Like all such large-scale trends and distributions, consumption is hard to measure accurately, but the trend is clear: the world as a whole is consuming more and more, and the wealthiest people/nations consume vastly more than their poor counterparts.

Not endorsed by Runyan and Peterson!

Not endorsed by Runyan and Peterson!

Week 12: November 25/27

Tuesday November 25: Satoshi Ikeda, “Masculinity and Masculinism Under Globalization” (2007)
Reading questions:
1. How does Ikeda define “neoliberal globalization,” what is the norm that defined post-war masculinity, and how do the two interact? What is “transnational business masculinity”?
2. Ikeda analyzes gendered trends in employment, education, and violence in Canada. Make a list of his key conclusions.
3. What, according to Ikeda, is the “new regime of masculinism”? How is it enabled by neoliberal economic ideology?

Lecture notes

Thursday November 27: Iris Marion Young, “The Logic of Masculinist Protection” (2003)
Reading questions:
1. What is Young’s thesis? Hint: she states it clearly on page 2 and there’s another summary on p. 9.
2. What is the “male domination model,” and how does it contrast with “protective masculinity,” according to Young? What is normative femininity in relation to protective masculinity?
3. What is a “security state,” and what are its internal and external aspects?
4. Both protective masculinity and the security state involve a certain bargain for women and citizens, respectively. What are the costs of these bargains, and why does Young suggest that both can be thought of as “protection rackets”?

Lecture notes

Week 13: December 2

Tuesday December 2: COURSE EVALUATIONS and closing discussion, including discussion of your blogpost topics. No new reading. Second blogpost assignment due.
NB: The second blogpost is your last written assignment and there is NO final exam for POLS 350.

Lecture notes

Goodbye! and good luck


1. Grading practice for the course, and checklist for effective participation
2. Guidelines on writing short papers
3. Examples of A-grade short papers from the class: Example 1; Example 2; Example 3. Two further real examples from students in THIS class: Example I, Example II.
4. Guidelines on writing blogpost-style essays. (Here’s the link on writing a good lead.) For a couple of examples (by me, and Madeline Smith, who was a student in my class last term) visit my blog. Here’s another exemplary post. And the latest in the Edmonton Journal is not only closely related to our discussions and well-presented, but written by two students from this department!  

Articles: for individual academic use ONLY. Please do not reproduce or distribute.

Leslie Feinberg
Anne Fausto-Sterling
Simone de Beauvoir
Judith Squires
R. W. Connell
Winona Stevenson
Andrea Smith
Susan Moller Okin. First page is here.
Iris Marion Young (on families)
Kim Anderson
Arlie Russell Hochschild
Lois Harder
Janine Brodie. You will need to navigate to the right chapter.
Linda Trimble (on assemblies)
Mona Lena Krook, Joni Lovenduski, and Judith Squires
Linda Trimble (on media)
Yasmin Jiwani
Cynthia Enloe. Notes to this chapter here.
Anne Runyan and V. Spike Peterson
Satoshi Ikeda. You will need to navigate to the right chapter.
Iris Marion Young (on the security state and masculinity)

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Old News

Good reading for the beginning of the year if you want to start positively: Ten things every professor hates.

Here’s my opening gambit: Cell phone use is prohibited in this class. Use of tablets or laptops is allowed, but only to reference class materials or take notes–and you should consider printing out readings and taking notes longhand if you want really good comprehension and recall. I wonder if we can agree that these are good policies? We’ll discuss it in class, but in the meantime you might be interested in these commentaries and research on use of technology in the classroom:

One of many studies showing that multi-tasking laptop use in a classroom is distracting for the users AND their “nearby peers.”

Louise Katz in the Chronicle on why students hand in their phones.

Peter Bregman on how multi-tasking impairs all the skills necessary for success at university.

Report on a study showing that taking notes long-hand yields better recall and comprehension than using a laptop.

My wonderful colleague Susanne Luhmann (Women’s and Gender Studies) is teaching a summer course next year in Berlin: Memoryscape Berlin: Remembering (and Forgetting) the Holocaust in its Aftermath (INT D 325; 3-credits). For more details about the e3 Berlin program and this course, go to http://www.goabroad.ualberta.ca/GoingAbroad/FindaProgram/e3Berlin.aspx or contact: Dr. Susanne Luhmann (luhmann@ualberta.ca).


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