Query: Monographs for not-really-postfeminist class?

A friend who is revamping his feminist philosophy syllabus (upper-level, undergraduate course) writes that he finds his students to be friendly to feminism but “also inclined to think that we’re ‘post-feminist.'”  His query continues, help a brother out:

So, I’m looking for a book that helps to motivate the project of the class and counter the claim that feminism did its work and everything is fine now. To do so, it should be relatively recent (with current data and examples). I’d prefer that it be a book, since I’ve found that it’s nice to unify and bring cohesion to the first few weeks of the semester, but individual articles could work, too. Do you have any suggestions?

I suggested Susan Brison’s Aftermath, my go-to book for demonstrating that feminist philosophy is about life-and-death matters which continue.  Suggestions very welcome!

10 thoughts on “Query: Monographs for not-really-postfeminist class?

  1. There’s a updated (2006) version of Susan Faludi’s Backlash. The whole thing might be too much, but selections could be helpful. It’s entirely focused on the US though…

  2. Maybe Cordelia Fine’s The delusions of gender? from a review quoted on amazon:

    “In Delusions of Gender Cordelia Fine does a magnificent job debunking the so-called science, and especially the brain science, of gender. If you thought there were some inescapable facts about women’s minds—some hard wiring that explains poor science and maths performance, or the ability to remember to buy the milk and arrange the holidays—you can put these on the rubbish heap. Instead, Fine shows that there are almost no areas of performance that are not touched by cultural stereotypes. This scholarly book will make you itch to press the delete button on so much nonsense, while being pure fun to read.” (Uta Frith FBA, FMedSci, FRS; Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience, University College London )

    “Cordelia Fine has a first-rate intellect and writing talent to burn. In her new book, Delusions of Gender, she takes aim at the idea that male brains and female brains are ‘wired differently,’ leading men and women to act in a manner consistent with decades-old gender stereotypes. Armed with penetrating insights, a rapier wit, and a slew of carefully researched facts, Fine lowers her visor, lifts her lance, and attacks this idea full-force. Whether her adversaries can rally their forces and mount a successful counter-attack remains to be seen. What’s certain at this point, however, is that in Delusions of Gender Cordelia Fine has struck a terrific first blow against what she calls ‘neurosexism.’” (William Ickes, author of Everyday Mind Reading: Understanding What Other People Think and Feel )

  3. Philosopher, Nina Power, has an excellent book, entitled “One Dimensional Woman” – which takes its title from Herbert Marcuse’s “One Dimensional Man”. It’s an excellent critique of how contemporary formations and scripts of gender are still very much oppressive. Power does an excellent job of linking contemporary gender struggles to issues that faced second-wave feminists as well, such as pornography and care work. I might add that it is filled with so much wit and sass. She just does such an excellent job of bridging academic issues to wider, non-philosophical audiences.

  4. I can’t recommend a book, but do recommend two strategies: (1) Chapter 1 of Jenny Saul’s “Feminism: Issues and Arguments” helps brings home the systematic obstacles women face in a very introductory fashion but supported by data. Yes, it’s a few years old now but… (2) Refer students to the (Stanford) Clayman Institute’s current project “Beyond the Stalled Gender Revolution”, based on the recognition that in wealthy countries women’s situation has not improved on major indexes in 20 years.

    The indexes are employment, poverty, and participation in government as I recall. The idea of the stalled gender revolution comes, I believe from Barbara English.

  5. I have to motivate my feminist philosophy/women’s studies courses similarly, and do so for the first week. While I am sympathetic to wanting a book, part of the issue the students are experiencing is a currency issue–not money, but time. Because of the vagaries of publishing, all books are potentially open to the “but that might not be true any more!” argument, especially ones which have become canonical. To us, a book which was published in the early ’00s will seem recent. To them, it’s half their lives ago. What I tend to do is send them to updated resources and have them spend some time the first week figuring out the answers to certain questions. I try to get them to focus on international women’s issues AND on domestic women’s issues. One of my GoTo sources for such things has been UN Women: http://www.unwomen.org/

    I also give students a quiz the first day, the answers to which often surprise them (and this way, they get to pitch in when they know the answers). It is not for credit, but establishes how much time we need to spend on groundwork and whatnot. The questions I’ve used are,again, empirical groundwork questions. Four of the questions are:
    – Approximately when did women get the vote in the United States (if not a year, then a decade)?
    – Were there any women in the U.S. who, even after this point, did not have access to voting?
    NB: Draws attention to race as a complicating factor in the status of women.
    – In what decade did it become illegal in all states for a man to have forcible sex with his wife against her will?
    NB: Always always always students think it was earlier than it was; last state was NC, 1st was ND
    – In what decade did women and men achieve wage equality (women generally earning the same amount as men for similar work in similar positions)?
    NB: This one brings it up to current status, since the answer is “haven’t yet”

    I also use time in class the first day to show students recent video clips and have them work in small groups to analyze the assumptions about women that are present, and then talk about what that means for gender equality (using a raw version thereof, of course, early in the course). Examples I’ve used in the past included:

    1) Elena Kagan, Supreme Court nominee
    Media clips: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kSyOEnerVQc
    Joy Behar show on CNN Headline News (HLN): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=66KXgfnFPi8

    2) Jerry Falwell (conservative religious leader), on why 9/11 happened
    Falwell clip from Anderson Cooper 360: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P_8dSnKiaD4&feature=related
    “I therefore believe that that created an environment which possibly has caused God to lift the veil of protection which has allowed no one to attack America on our soil since 1812,” Falwell said in an e-mail to CNN elaborating his position.
    Lewis Black, comedian: http://comedians.jokes.com/lewis-black/videos/lewis-black—jerry-falwell

    3) Marriage and relationships
    Jeff Dunham: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xUX6QhMA12c&feature=related
    Dodge Charger Superbowl ad (2010): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2RyPamyWotM

    Hope this helps! While I definitely did not provide the requested book recommendation, I do think it’s useful to use authoritative and exemplary materials. Good luck! I look forward to seeing other folks’ suggestions.

  6. One source of relevant data is the Gender Inequality Index that was added (beginning in 2010) to the Human Development Index of the Human Development Report commissioned/published by the United Nations Development Programme.

    Out of 187 countries in the 2011 Human Development Index, the United States ranks 47, the United Kingdom ranks 34, and Canada ranks 20 in the 2011 Gender Inequality Index.

    You can download a PDF of the 2011 Gender Inequality Index (with rank and indicators listed in the order of the more comprehensive Human Development Index) by clicking and/or saving here:

    Click to access HDR_2011_EN_Table4.pdf

    Here is a webpage for the Gender Inequality Index:

    You can download a PDF that provides a graphical presentation of the human development indices, including the gender inequality indicators, here:

    Click to access HDR_2011_EN_TechNotes.pdf

    You can download a PDF of Frequently Asked Questions about the Gender Inequality Index here:

    Click to access FAQs_2011_GII.pdf

    The Google Public Data Explorer “enables users to view a wide range of international development statistics, and then graph and contrast different sets of figures. Anyone with Internet access can now readily compare the HDI performance of (for example) China, Egypt, India, Norway, Portugal, the Republic of Korea, Rwanda, Sudan, Tunisia and the United States, graph the results, and share their newly created charts and maps with friends by email.”
    Here is a webpage for this wonderful tool:

    Readers can find some basic Google Public Data Help for using the tool here:

    As for relevant scholarly work, there are many excellent articles, textbooks, and monographs by sociologists, social psychologists, and psychologists teaching/doing research on various aspects of gender.

    Readers might find useful some links provided in the (more recent?) comments to my old post on the gender inequality index here:

  7. I’ve found Angela Mcrobbie’s The Aftermath of Feminism provokes good discussion, though it’s focused on the UK. And a possible strategy is examination of the term post-feminism… It’s applicable after all only if the discourse one is engaged in is about, or needs to remain aware of what are [or in post-feminist parlance, were] feminist issues–for instance body image. And those discussions, I’ve found, often lead back to feminism of their own accord. One helpful resource is the Centre for Appearance Research at the University of the West of England. Recent publications here: http://www1.uwe.ac.uk/hls/research/appearanceresearch/researchareas/publications.aspx

    Then there’s the perennial problem of violence: domestic violence and child abuse, violence against civillian populations during war-time, rhetorical violence–language skewed in favour of the normative (leading the discussion into gender bias) …

  8. Oh, another bit of news I just came across: a recent study found that female docs still make less than their male counterparts.

    “To get the fairest comparison, the study authors took into account work hours, academic titles, medical specialties, age and other factors that influence salaries. They included only doctors who were involved in research at U.S. medical schools and teaching hospitals, all at the same stage in their careers. And they still found men’s average yearly salaries were at least $12,000 higher than women’s.
    Over a 30-year career, that adds up to more than $350,000.”

    Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/health/2012/06/13/women-mds-paid-much-less-than-male-counterparts/#ixzz1xhPQj0is


    One or both of those links should work.

    BONUS: Even the most conservative or we’re-all-post-feminist-now students would perk up (or get depressed) when even Fox News publishes such a thing.

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