Gender studies

“[Fine’s] sharp tongue is tempered with humor. . . . Read this book and see how complex and fascinating the whole issue is.”—The New York Times It’s the twenty-first century, and although we tried to rear unisex children—boys who play with dolls and girls who like trucks—we failed. Even though the glass ceiling is cracked, most women stay comfortably beneath it. And everywhere we hear about vitally important “hardwired” differences between male and female brains. The neuroscience that we read about in magazines, newspaper articles, books, and sometimes even scientific journals increasingly tells a tale of two brains, and the result is more often than not a validation of the status quo. Women, it seems, are just too intuitive for math; men too focused for housework.

Drawing on the latest research in neuroscience and psychology, Cordelia Fine debunks the myth of hardwired differences between men’s and women’s brains, unraveling the evidence behind such claims as men’s brains aren’t wired for empathy and women’s brains aren’t made to fix cars. She then goes one step further, offering a very different explanation of the dissimilarities between men’s and women’s behavior. Instead of a “male brain” and a “female brain,” Fine gives us a glimpse of plastic, mutable minds that are continuously influenced by cultural assumptions about gender.

Passionately argued and unfailingly astute, Delusions of Gender provides us with a much-needed corrective to the belief that men’s and women’s brains are intrinsically different—a belief that, as Fine shows with insight and humor, all too often works to the detriment of ourselves and our society.
Goes beyond transgender to question the need for gender classification

Beyond Trans pushes the conversation on gender identity to its limits: questioning the need for gender categories in the first place. Whether on birth certificates or college admissions applications or on bathroom doors, why do we need to mark people and places with sex categories? Do they serve a real purpose or are these places and forms just mechanisms of exclusion? Heath Fogg Davis offers an impassioned call to rethink the usefulness of dividing the world into not just Male and Female categories but even additional categories of Transgender and gender fluid. Davis, himself a transgender man, explores the underlying gender-enforcing policies and customs in American life that have led to transgender bathroom bills, college admissions controversies, and more, arguing that it is necessary for our society to take real steps to challenge the assumption that gender matters.

He examines four areas where we need to re-think our sex-classification systems: sex-marked identity documents such as birth certificates, driver’s licenses and passports; sex-segregated public restrooms; single-sex colleges; and sex-segregated sports. Speaking from his own experience and drawing upon major cases of sex discrimination in the news and in the courts, Davis presents a persuasive case for challenging how individuals are classified according to sex and offers concrete recommendations for alleviating sex identity discrimination and sex-based disadvantage.

For anyone in search of pragmatic ways to make our world more inclusive, Davis’ recommendations provide much-needed practical guidance about how to work through this complex issue. A provocative call to action, Beyond Trans pushes us to think how we can work to make America truly inclusive of all people.

Threshold Concepts in Women’s and Gender Studies: Ways of Seeing, Thinking, and Knowing is a textbook designed primarily for introduction to Women’s and Gender Studies courses with the intent of providing both skills- and concept-based foundation in the field. The text is driven by a single key question: "What are the ways of thinking, seeing, and knowing that characterize Women’s and Gender Studies and are valued by its practitioners?" Rather than taking a topical approach, Threshold Concepts develops the key concepts and ways of thinking that students need in order to develop a deep understanding and to approach material like feminist scholars do, across disciplines. This book illustrates four of the most critical concepts in Women’s and Gender Studies—the social construction of gender, privilege and oppression, intersectionality, and feminist praxis—and grounds these concepts in multiple illustrations.

The second edition includes a significant number of updates, revisions, and expansions: the case studies in all five chapters have been revised and expanded, as have the end of chapter elements, statistics have been updated, and numerous references to significant news stories and cultural developments of the past three years have been added. Finally, many more "callbacks" to previous chapters have been incorporated throughout the textbook in order to remind students to carry forward and build upon what they have learned about each threshold concept even as they move on to a new one.

This book reassesses theories of agency and gender identity against the backdrop of changing relations between men and women in contemporary societies. McNay argues that recent thought on the formation of the modern subject offers a one-sided or negative account of agency, which underplays the creative dimension present in the responses of individuals to changing social relations. An understanding of this creative element is central to a theory of autonomous agency, and also to an explanation of the ways in which women and men negotiate changes within gender relations.


In exploring the implications of this idea of agency for a theory of gender identity, McNay brings together the work of leading feminist theorists - such as Judith Butler and Nancy Fraser - with the work of key continental social theorists. In particular, she examines the work of Pierre Bourdieu, Paul Ricoeur and Cornelius Castoriadis, each of whom has explored different aspects of the idea of the creativity of action. McNay argues that their thought has interesting implications for feminist ideas of gender, but these have been relatively neglected partly because of the huge influence of the work of Michel Foucault and Jacques Lacan in this area. She argues that, despite its suggestive nature, feminist theory must move away from the ideas of Foucault and Lacan if a more substantive account of agency is to be introduced into ideas of gender identity.

This book will appeal to students and scholars in the areas of social theory, gender studies and feminist theory.

How do understandings of the relationships between gender, violence, security and the international inform policy and practice in which these notions are central? What are the practical implications of basing policy on problematic discourses? In this highly original poststructural feminist critique, the author maps the discursive terrains of institutions, both NGOs and the UN, which formulate and implement resolutions and guides of practice that affect gender issues in the context of international policy practices. The author investigates UN Security Council Resolution 1325, passed in 2000 to address gender issues in conflict areas, in order to examine the discursive construction of security policy that takes gender seriously. In doing so, she argues that language is not merely descriptive of social/political reality but rather constitutive of it. Moving from concept to discourse, and in turn to practice, the author analyses the ways in which the resolution's discursive construction had an enormous influence over the practicalities of its implementation, and how the resulting tensions and inconsistencies in its construction contributed to its failures. The book argues for a re-conceptualisation of gendered violence in conjunction with security, in order to avoid partial and highly problematic understandings of their practical relationship. Drawing together theoretical work on discourses of gender violence and international security, sexualised violence in war, gender and peace processes, and the domestic-international dichotomy with her own rigorous empirical investigation, the author develops a compelling discourse-theoretical analysis that promises to have far-reaching impact in both academic and policy environments.
Women's transgressive behaviors and perspectives are challenging societal norms in the Arab world, giving rise to anxiety and public debate. Simultaneously, however, other Arab women are unwillingly finding themselves labeled "bad" as authority figures attempt to redirect scrutiny from serious social ills such as patriarchy and economic exploitation, or as they impose new restrictions on women's behavior in response to uncertainty and change in society. Bad Girls of the Arab World elucidates how both intentional and unintentional transgressions make manifest the social and cultural constructs that define proper and improper behavior, as well as the social and political policing of gender, racial, and class divisions.

The works collected here address the experiences of women from a range of ages, classes, and educational backgrounds who live in the Arab world and beyond. They include short pieces in which the women themselves reflect on their experiences with transgression; academic articles about performance, representation, activism, history, and social conditions; an artistic intervention; and afterwords by the acclaimed novelists Laila al-Atrash and Miral al-Tahawy. The book demonstrates that women's transgression is both an agent and a symptom of change, a site of both resistance and repression. Showing how transnational forces such as media discourses, mobility and confinement, globalization, and neoliberalism, as well as the legacy of colonialism, shape women's badness, Bad Girls of the Arab World offers a rich portrait of women's varied experiences at the boundaries of propriety in the twenty-first century.

"No one can understand how feminism has evolved without reading this radical, inflammatory second-wave landmark." —Naomi Wolf

Originally published in 1970, when Shulamith Firestone was just twenty-five years old, and going on to become a bestseller, The Dialectic of Sex was the first book of the women's liberation movement to put forth a feminist theory of politics.

Beginning with a look at the radical and grassroots history of the first wave (with its foundation in the abolition movement of the time), Firestone documents its major victory, the granting of the vote to women in 1920, and the fifty years of ridicule that followed. She goes on to deftly synthesize the work of Freud, Marx, de Beauvoir, and Engels to create a cogent argument for feminist revolution. Identifying women as a caste, she declares that they must seize the means of reproduction—for as long as women (and only women) are required to bear and rear children, they will be singled out as inferior. Ultimately she presents feminism as the key radical ideology, the missing link between Marx and Freud, uniting their visions of the political and the personal.

In the wake of recent headlines bemoaning women's squandered fertility and the ongoing debate over the appropriate role of genetics in the future of humanity, The Dialectic of Sex is revealed as remarkably relevant to today's society—a testament to Shulamith Firestone's startlingly prescient vision. Firestone died in 2012, but her ideas live on through this extraordinary book.

Nancy Chodorow, in her groundbreaking book The Reproduction of Mothering, quite simply changed the conversation in at least three areas of study: psychoanalysis, women's studies, and sociology. In her latest book, Individualizing Gender and Sexuality, she examines the complexity and uniqueness of each person's personal creation of sexuality and gender and the ways that these interrelate with other aspects of psychic and cultural life. She brings her well-known theoretical agility, wide-ranging interdisciplinarity, and clinical experience to every chapter, advocating for the clinician's openness, curiosity, and theoretical pluralism. The book begins with reflections on Freud's Three Essays on the Theory of Sexuality, followed by considerations of Melanie Klein and Stephen Mitchell, as well as on her own work and on the postmodern turn in psychoanalytic gender theory. Subsequent chapters address contemporary clinical-cultural issues such as women and work, women and motherhood, and men and violence. Concluding chapters elaborate on the multiple ingredients and the personal affective, conflictual, and defensive constellations and processes that create sexuality and gender in each individual. Ending with a chapter on homosexualities as compromise formations, Chodorow deepens her account of clinical individuality and sex-gender transference-countertransference while bringing her readers back to Freud and to the many strands that followed, as she consolidates a consistent line of interest in sexuality and gender, theory and practice, sustained over a lifetime.
In this classic work of feminist political thought, Iris Marion Young challenges the prevailing reduction of social justice to distributive justice. It critically analyzes basic concepts underlying most theories of justice, including impartiality, formal equality, and the unitary moral subjectivity. The starting point for her critique is the experience and concerns of the new social movements about decision making, cultural expression, and division of labor--that were created by marginal and excluded groups, including women, African Americans, and American Indians, as well as gays and lesbians. Iris Young defines concepts of domination and oppression to cover issues eluding the distributive model. Democratic theorists, according to Young do not adequately address the problem of an inclusive participatory framework. By assuming a homogeneous public, they fail to consider institutional arrangements for including people not culturally identified with white European male norms of reason and respectability. Young urges that normative theory and public policy should undermine group-based oppression by affirming rather than suppressing social group difference. Basing her vision of the good society on the differentiated, culturally plural network of contemporary urban life, she argues for a principle of group representation in democratic publics and for group-differentiated policies.

Danielle Allen's new foreword contextualizes Young's work and explains how debates surrounding social justice have changed since--and been transformed by--the original publication of Justice and the Politics of Difference.

An investigative journalist uncovers a hidden custom in Afghanistan that will transform your understanding of what it means to grow up as a girl.

In Afghanistan, a culture ruled almost entirely by men, the birth of a son is cause for celebration and the arrival of a daughter is often mourned as misfortune. A bacha posh (literally translated from Dari as “dressed up like a boy”) is a third kind of child--a girl temporarily raised as a boy and presented as such to the outside world. Jenny Nordberg, the reporter who broke the story of this phenomenon for the New York Times, constructs a powerful and moving account of those secretly living on the other side of a deeply segregated society where women have almost no rights and little freedom.

The Underground Girls of Kabul is anchored by vivid characters who bring this remarkable story to life: Azita, a female parliamentarian who sees no other choice but to turn her fourth daughter Mehran into a boy; Zahra, the tomboy teenager who struggles with puberty and refuses her parents’ attempts to turn her back into a girl; Shukria, now a married mother of three after living for twenty years as a man; and Nader, who prays with Shahed, the undercover female police officer, as they both remain in male disguise as adults.

At the heart of this emotional narrative is a new perspective on the extreme sacrifices of Afghan women and girls against the violent backdrop of America’s longest war. Divided into four parts, the book follows those born as the unwanted sex in Afghanistan, but who live as the socially favored gender through childhood and puberty, only to later be forced into marriage and childbirth. The Underground Girls of Kabul charts their dramatic life cycles, while examining our own history and the parallels to subversive actions of people who live under oppression everywhere.
At a time when some corporate women leaders are advocating for their aspiring sisters to ‘lean in’ for a bigger piece of the existing pie, this book puts the spotlight on the deep structures of organizational culture that hold gender inequality in place. Gender at Work: Theory and Practice for 21st Century Organizations makes a compelling case that transforming the unspoken, informal institutional norms that perpetuate gender inequality in organizations is key to achieving gender equitable outcomes for all.

The book is based on the authors’ interviews with 30 leaders who broke new ground on gender equality in organizations, international case studies crafted from consultations and organizational evaluations, and lessons from nearly fifteen years of experience of Gender at Work, a learning collaborative of 30 gender equality experts. From the Dalit women’s groups in India who fought structural discrimination in the largest ‘right to work’ program in the world, to the intrepid activists who challenged the powerful members of the UN Security Council to define mass rape as a tactic of war, the trajectories and analysis in this book will inspire readers to understand and chip away at the deep structures of gender discrimination in organizational policies, practices and outcomes.

Designed for practitioners, policy makers, donors, students and researchers looking at gender, development and organizational change, this book offers readers a widely tested tool of analysis – the Gender at Work Analytical Framework – to assess the often invisible structures of gender bias in organizations and to map desired strategies and change processes.

During the past three decades, feminist scholars have successfully demonstrated the ubiq uity and omnirelevance of gender as a sociocultural construction in virtually all human collectivities, past and present. Intrapsychic, interactional, and collective social processes are gendered, as are micro, meso, and macro social structures. Gender shapes, and is shaped, in all arenas of social life, from the most mundane practices of everyday life to those of the most powerful corporate actors. Contemporary understandings of gender emanate from a large community of primarily feminist scholars that spans the gamut of learned disciplines and also includes non-academic activist thinkers. However, while in corporating some cross-disciplinary material, this volume focuses specifically on socio logical theories and research concerning gender, which are discussed across the full array of social processes, structures, and institutions. As editor, I have explicitly tried to shape the contributions to this volume along several lines that reflect my long-standing views about sociology in general, and gender sociology in particular. First, I asked authors to include cross-national and historical material as much as possible. This request reflects my belief that understanding and evaluating the here-and-now and working realistically for a better future can only be accomplished from a comparative perspective. Too often, American sociology has been both tempero- and ethnocentric. Second, I have asked authors to be sensitive to within-gender differences along class, racial/ethnic, sexual preference, and age cohort lines.
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