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: 9781945764028
Conditions of Use
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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. .
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.