Gender and Sex Roles (Syllabus)

Gender and Sex Roles (SOC 225)
M 2:00pm - 4:45pm

Northern Virginia Community College
Spring, 2008

Instructor:  Rebecca Dolinsky                                   
NVCC- Loudoun
Classroom:  L-Design/LD-0115
Office Hours:  4:45pm-6:00pm in LR 114 or by appt.

Course Description

In this course, we will explore the concept of gender through a sociological lens.  Our two major goals in this course will be to examine a) the ways that gender and sex are socialized and socially constructed and b) the constantly shifting relationship between gender/sex and major institutions in our society.    Although this course centers on contemporary gender and sex roles, we will maintain a sharp focus on historical shifts that have an influence on current definitions of gender and sex in U.S. society.  We will also define gender and sex in relation to race, ethnicity, class, sexuality, culture, age, and ability.  Please respect your peers as we move through the course material, since some of the topics listed below will feel familiar and personal.

Course Readings

- Disch, Estelle.  2006.  Reconstructing Gender:  A Multicultural Anthology.  4th edition.
            New York:  McGraw Hill

- Five supplemental readings to be provided during the first day of class.

Course Requirements

  1. Participation and Attendance (10% of your final grade)
  2. Reading Responses:  5 reading responses, assigned at random (20% of your final grade)
  3. Midterm Paper:  Due March 3rd (20% of your final grade)
  4. Group Presentations:  April 21st (20% of your final grade)
  5. Final Exam:  Due May 8th (30% of your final grade)

January 14th                   Introduction to the Course

Discussion Topics:  sociology as disciplinary tool to understand gender; gender socialization; the difference between “sex” and “gender”

January 21st                    Martin Luther King Jr. Day (no class)

January 28th                   Gender Socialization

Discussion Topics:  social constructionism; nature vs. nurture; gender socialization; the correlation between climate change and gender*

- “General Introduction” – Estelle Disch (pg. 1-28)
- “The Social Construction of Gender” – Judith Lorber (pg. 113-119)
- “Missing in Interaction” – Myra and David Sadker (pg. 354-360)
- “Women, Violence, and Resistance” – Melanie Kaye/Kantrowitz (pg. 478-490)
- “Women and Girls Last?:  Averting the Second Post-Katrina Disaster” – Elaine Enarson (supplemental reading), for more on Hurricane Katrina:

* We will also honor the call for a national teach-in that is occurring later in the week on January 31st (for more information, go to the following URL:  The teach-in will focus on global warming.

February 4th                   Gender as a Multiple Identity

Discussion Topics:  intersecting identities; matrix of domination and oppression

- “It’s Not Just About Gender” – Estelle Disch (pg. 29-30)
- “White Privilege:  Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack” – Peggy McIntosh (pg. 71-76)
- “The Myth of the Latin Woman:  I Just Met a Girl Named Maria” – Judith Ortiz Cofer (pg. 142-146)
- “Gender through the Prism of Difference” – Maxine Baca Zinn, Pierrette Hondagneu-Sotelo, and Michael Messner (supplemental reading)

February 11th             Gender and Identity Movements

Discussion Topics:  the Student Movement, the Women’s Movement and other identity movements during the 1960s and 1970s and why these movements have an impact on gender today

- “From Nothing, a Consciousness” – Helen Zia (pg. 41-47)
- “Theorizing Difference from Multiracial Feminism” – Maxine Baca Zinn and Bonnie Thornton Dill (pg. 81-90)
- “Man Child:  A Black Lesbian Feminist’s Response” – Audre Lorde (pg. 331-337)

February 18th                 Gender and Institutions

Discussion Topics:  structuration; work; education

- “Conflict within the Ivory Tower” – Ruth Sidel (pg. 376-387)
- “Gender as Structure” – Barbara Risman (supplemental reading)
- “Nickel-and-Dimed:  On (Not) Getting By in America” – Barbara Ehrenreich (supplemental reading)

February 25th                 Family
Discussion Topics:  parenting roles; family as an evolving concept

- “Families” – Estelle Disch (pg. 299-303)
- “The New Momism” – Susan J. Douglas and Meredith W. Michaels (pg. 226-238)
- “The Transformation of Family Life” – Lillian B. Rubin (pg. 304-313)
- “Dilemmas of Involved Fatherhood” – Kathleen Gerson (pg. 321-330)

March 3rd                         Gender and Culture

***Midterm Papers Due Today

Discussion Topics:  the meaning of culture; colonization

- “Claiming Jezebel:  Black Female Subjectivity and Sexual Expressions in Hip-Hop.” – Ayana Byrd (pg. 239-247)
- “Reproductive Issues Are Essential Survival Issues for the Asian-American Communities.” –Connie S. Chan (pg. 575-578)
- “Domestic Violence Among the Navajo:  A Legacy of Colonization” – Diane McEachern, Marlene Van Winkle, and Sue Steiner (supplemental reading)

March 10th                       Spring Break (no class)

March 17th                       Policy and the “System”

Discussion Topics:  patriarchy as a system; history of welfare reform; history of affirmative action; sexual harassment

- “Patriarchy, the System:  An It, Not a He, a Them or an Us” – Allan Johnson (pg. 91-99)
- “The ‘Success’ of Welfare Reform” – Sharon Hays (pg. 401-416)
- “The Effects of Affirmative Action on Other Stakeholders” – Barbara Reskin (pg. 430-442)
- “Stopping Sexual Harassment:  A Challenge for Community Education” – Robert L. Allen (pg. 501-511)

March 24th                       Global Issues & Globalization
Discussion Topics:  a working definition of globalization; global identities

- “Controlled or Autonomous:  Identity and the Experience of the Network, Women Living Under Muslim Laws” – Farida Shaheed (pg. 76-81)
- “America’s Dirty Work:  Migrant Maids and Modern-Day Slavery” – Joy M. Zarembka (pg. 453-462)
- “The Globetrotting Sneaker” – Cynthia Enloe (pg. 462-469)

March 31st                  Health

Discussion Topics:  toxicity; HIV/AIDS

- “Health and Illness” – Estelle Disch (pg. 535-540)
- “Why the Precautionary Principle?  A Meditation on Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC) and the Breasts of Mothers” – Sandra Steingraber (pg. 578-581)
- “Does Silencio = Muerte?:  Notes on Translating the AIDS Epidemic” – Dr. Rafael Campo (pg. 582-588)

Video:  “And the Band Played On”

April 7th                             Masculinities

Discussion Topics:  a working definition of masculinities

- “The Puerto Rican Dummy and the Merciful Son” – Martin Espada (pg. 31-41)  
- “ ‘What About the Boys?’  What the Current Debate Tells Us—and Don’t Tell Us—About Boys in School” – Michael S. Kimmel (pg. 361-375)
- “Wielding Masculinity Inside Abu Ghraib:  Making Feminist Sense of an American Military Scandal” – Cynthia Enloe (pg. 514-523)

April 14th                    Embodiment

Discussion Topics:  gender identity as embodied; gender norms

- “Embodiment” – Estelle Disch (pg. 155-161)
- “Just Walk on By:  A Black Man Ponders His Power to Alter Public Space” – Brent Staples (pg. 191-194)
- “I’m Not Fat, I’m Latina” – Christy Haubegger (pg. 201-202)
- “The Tyranny of the Esthetic:  Surgery’s Most Intimate Violation” – Martha A. Coventry (pg. 203-211)
April 21st

***Group Presentations

April 28th                    Where do we go from here?

Discussion Topics:  suggested shifts; social change

- “A World that is Truly Human” – Estelle Disch (pg. 595-597)
- “The Blow Up… A Clash of Realities” – Gloria E. Anzaldua (pg. 599-604)
- “American Indian Women:  At the Center of Indigenous Resistance in Contemporary North America” – M. Annette Jaimes with Theresa Halsey (pg. 605-612)
- “Toward a New Civic Leadership:  The Africana Criminal Justice Project” – Geoff K. Ward and Manning Marable (pg. 613-621)
- “Women’s Human Rights:  It’s about Time!” – Rita Arditti (pg. 627-642)

May 5th                               Wrap-up and Review; Study Session for the Final Exam

Required Readings:
            no required readings

May 8th                                        

***Final Exam:         2:00pm - 3:50pm

Assignments for Soc 225 (Spring 2008)

Reading Responses
Hand-written; in class

You will be required to write five reading responses (each worth 4% of your total grade) over the course of this class.  I will randomly pick the five days for you to write a reading response.  I will assign a question or two for you to respond in class.  These are not a pop quizzes, since you will be allowed to use your books.  However, reading ahead of time is crucial since you will be given a limited amount of time to answer the question(s)… therefore you will only have so much time to refer to your course material.

Midterm Paper
4-5 pages; double-spaced; 11-12-pt font; Margins:  1” (top & bottom); 1/25” (left & right)

I will expect you to write about the relationship between gender and two-three institutions in our society (i.e., education, media, family, economy, justice, politics, military, religion, and health).  You will receive a handout describing the expectations of this paper in greater detail by February 4th.

Group Presentations
2-3 paged outline; single-spaced; 11-12-pt font; Margins:  1” (top & bottom); 1/25” (left & right)

In a group with two-to-three of your fellow peers, you will be presenting a media clip that discusses and/or dissects one of the major topics that we covered in the duration of this course.  The group is expected to hand in a detailed outline of your presentation on the day of your presentation.  You will receive a handout describing the expectations of this assignment in greater detail by March 17th.  Group configurations will also be determined on this day so please be prepared to come to this class!!! 

Final Exam
Hand-written; in class

The final exam to this course will consist of fill-in-the-blank, short answer, and short essay questions.  We will use our final class as a study session for the final exam.  You will receive a study guide for the final exam on April 28th.

Class Policies for Soc 225 (Spring 2008)

Attendance and Participation

You are required to attend this course, therefore I will be taking attendance every day that we are scheduled to meet.  I also expect you to participate in this course.  With participation in the course comes a reasonable amount of obvious engagement on your part.  By this, I mean that it will be fairly obvious to me if you are not engaging with the course material. 


I will be using the following grading scale:

A = 90-100%
B = 80-89%
C = 70-79%
D = 60-69%
F = 59% and below

When you are handed back your graded assignments, I will thoroughly explain the way I graded each assignment so that we can communicate across my point system if necessary.


Please respect your fellow peers and be on time.  Not only are you interrupting your education if you are late to class, but you are interrupting theirs as well.

Missing a Class

If you do miss a class, it is your responsibility to contact one of your peers for the notes.  On the first day of class, I will make sure that we take a moment for each of you to exchange contact information with at least one of your peers so that you have someone to check in with throughout the course.

Late Assignments

Late assignments will be accepted, but there will be a reduction in points with each passing day.


If you have a disability that requires particular attention in class or during an in-class exam or writing assignment, please do not hesitate to be in touch with me so that we may set up appropriate arrangements.  You will need to provide me with an official form from Counseling Services relaying your particular ability needs.

Inclement Weather

Please check and click “Weather and Closings” or watch your local news for any announcements pertaining to inclement weather.  If you live in an area that harder hit than our campus due to the weather, I will certainly understand if you cannot make it to class.

Academic Dishonesty

Academic dishonesty will not be tolerated in this course.  If you are unclear what plagiarism is, please do not hesitate to talk with me.  See NVCC’s policy on academic dishonesty below:
Academic Dishonesty
When College officials award credit, degrees, and certificates, they must assume the absolute integrity of the work you have done; therefore, it is important that you maintain the highest standard of honor in your scholastic work.
The College does not tolerate academic dishonesty.  Students who are not honest in their academic work will face disciplinary action along with any grade penalty the instructor imposes. Procedures for disciplinary measures and appeals are outlined in the Student Handbook.  In extreme cases, academic dishonesty may result in dismissal from the College. Academic dishonesty, as a general rule, involves one of the following acts:
  1. Cheating on an examination or quiz, including the giving, receiving, or soliciting of information and the unauthorized use of notes or other materials during the examination or quiz.
  2. Buying, selling, stealing, or soliciting any material purported to be the unreleased contents of a forthcoming examination, or the use of such material.
  3. Substituting for another person during an examination or allowing another person to take your place.
  4. Plagiarizing means taking credit for another person’s work or ideas. This includes copying another persons’ work either word for word or in substance without acknowledging the source.
  5. Accepting help from or giving help to another person to complete an assignment, unless the instructor has approved such collaboration in advance.
  6. Knowingly furnishing false information to the College; forgery and alteration or use of College documents or instruments of identification with the intent to defraud.