Introduction to Women, Gender, Sexuality Studies
Miliann Kang, University of Massachusetts
Laura Heston, University of Massachusetts
Sonny Nordmarken, University of Massachusetts
Pub Date: 2017
ISBN 13: 978-1-9457640-2-8
Conditions of Use
The text provides a broad overview of key concepts, although some that would seem to me foundational are missing (e.g., patriarchy, kyriarchy, Title 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.
This is a clear and concise introduction, to women, gender and sexuality. It provides a theoretical context and examines the various societal issues 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.
A number of important concepts are not covered or are only mentioned in passing -- the role of religion, for instance, in constructing ideologies of read more
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.
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.
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. .
The text is brief. It is 132 pages, covering the following topics: 1. Critical Introduction to the Field 2. Theorizing Lived Experiences 3. Identity 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.
I was impressed with the book's comprehensiveness. I particularly appreciated the book's discussion of the field of sexuality studies, the binary, 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.
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 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.
The authors are very comprehensive in their topic coverage. I particularly like how discussion of intersectionality permeates the text outside of 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.
Table of Contents
Introduction to Women, Gender, Sexuality Studies
About This Book
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
- 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
- Alternatives to Binary Systems
- References: Unit II
Unit III: Institutions, Culture, and Structures
- Introduction: Institutions, Cultures, and Structures
- The Family
- 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
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.