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POLSC303: Feminist Politics

Unit 4: Third Wave Feminism   In this unit, we will look at the Third Wave of the feminist movement, which challenged fundamental assumptions about the category of “woman” and criticized the class disparity that existed within the feminist movement itself.  Separating questions of gender from questions of sex, Third Wave feminists often argued that the category of “woman” was itself socially constructed.  This critique of “essentialism” and “reductivism” developed out of the broader poststructuralist movement in political theory.  It focused on images of bodies, medical discourse, and the reduction of complex identities to gender.  It also explored the ways in which language had led to reductive understandings of gender categories and asked how gender difference relates to race and class difference.  Building on these critiques, the Third Wave addressed how the Second Wave feminist movement had ignored the diversity within its own ranks.

Unit 4 Time Advisory
This unit should take you approximately 22 hours to complete.

☐    Subunit 4.1: 8.25 hours

☐    Sub-subunit 4.1.1: 5.5 hours

☐    Sub-subunit 4.1.2: 2.75 hours

☐    Subunit 4.2: 8.75 hours

☐    Introduction: 0.5 hours

☐    Sub-subunit 4.2.1: 7 hours

☐    Sub-subunit 4.2.2: 1.25 hours

☐    Subunit 4.3: 5 hours

☐    Sub-subunit 4.3.1: 1 hour

☐    Sub-subunit 4.3.2: 3.5 hours

☐    Sub-subunit 4.3.3: 0.5 hours

Unit4 Learning Outcomes
Upon successful completion of this unit, the student will be able to: - Explain Michel Foucault’s notion of power, and discuss how it has been applied by Third Wave feminists. - Identify the distinction sometimes drawn between sex and gender, and evaluate the idea that gender is socially constructed. - Explain and evaluate the idea that gender as an aspect of socially constructed identity intersects with other aspects of identity like race and class. - Assess the Third Wave’s concern with different feminism around the world. - Identify the role of feminist politics in the contemporary global community. - Explain what is meant by feminist moral psychology, and identify the role it has played in addressing female genital mutilation. - Explain the role of feminism in the Arab Spring.

4.1 Poststructuralist Theories of Power   Michel Foucault’s understanding of power is very helpful in thinking about the Third Wave with its critique of the category of “woman” or “feminine.”  Foucault did not set out to write feminist theory, and not all Third Wave feminists are Foucauldians, but this way of thinking about power helps provide background to the thinking of some Third Wave feminism.

4.1.1 Foucault’s Theories of Power   - Reading: Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy: Gary Gutting’s “Michel Foucault” Link: Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy: Gary Gutting’s “Michel Foucault” (HTML)
 
Instructions: Read about Michel Foucault’s personal history, as well as the evolution of his thinking, in order to understand the foundation for his theories on power, subordination, and government.  This reading should take you approximately 1 hour and 30 minutes to complete.
 
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  • Reading: University of Minnesota, Resources of Michel Foucault: Outlines of Michel Foucault’s Writings: The History of Sexuality, Volume 1 Link: University of Minnesota, Resources of Michel Foucault: Outlines of Michel Foucault’s Writings: The History of Sexuality, Volume 1 (HTML)
     
    Instructions: Please click on the link above, and read the entire text.  Foucault’s influential book, The History of Sexuality, continues to inform post structural theorists and feminists interested in understanding how power is created and distributed in political and cultural society.  This reading should take you approximately 1 hour to complete.
     
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  • Reading: Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy: Kathleen Lennon’s “Feminist Perspectives on the Body” Link: Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy: Kathleen Lennon’s “Feminist Perspectives on the Body” (HTML)
     
    Instructions: Please click on the link above, and read the entire entry.  Drawing on the two previous readings, this entry from the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy further engages feminist scholars’ concern with issues of the body.  This reading should take approximately 2 hours to complete.
     
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  • Reading: Internet Encyclopedia of Psychology: Aurelia Armstrong’s “Foucault and Feminism” Link: Internet Encyclopedia of Psychology: Aurelia Armstrong’s “Foucault and Feminism” (HTML)
     
    Instructions: Please click on the link above, and read the entire article.  This reading provides an analysis of the relationship between Foucault and feminism that is instructive when we note the ways that feminist scholars have both incorporated and critiqued Foucault’s theories.  This reading should take you approximately 1 hour to complete.
     
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4.1.2 Feminist Theories of Power   - Reading: Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy: Amy Allen’s “Feminist Perspectives on Power” Link: Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy: Amy Allen’s “Feminist Perspectives on Power” (HTML)
 
Instructions: Read the entire entry on feminist theories of power from the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.  The intent of this reading is to situate poststructuralist theories of power and feminist power (in particular, Foucault) in broader theories of feminist power.  This reading should take you approximately 2 hours to complete.
 
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  • Reading: Oakton Community College: Marian Staats’ “A Very Short Summary of Poststructuralist and Queer Feminist Theory and Practice” Link: Oakton Community College: Marian Staats’ “A Very Short Summary of Poststructuralist and Queer Feminist Theory and Practice” (HTML)
     
    Instructions: Read this short summary, which distinguishes between these theories and discusses underlying assumptions.  This reading should take you approximately 20 minutes to complete.
     
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  • Reading: Culturecat Rhetoric and Feminism: Clancy Ratliff’s “Feminist Knowledge Claims and the Postmodern Critique” Link: Culturecat Rhetoric and Feminism: Clancy Ratliff’s “Feminist Knowledge Claims and the Postmodern Critique” (PDF)
     
    Instructions: Read this article.
     
    Reading this article should take approximately 30 minutes.
     
    Terms of Use: This resource is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License. It is attributed to Clancy Ratliff and the original version can be found here

  • Lecture: YouTube: University of South Carolina: Janet L. Miller’s “Performing Feminist Poststructuralist Research” Link: YouTube: University of South Carolina: Janet L. Miller’s “Performing Feminist Poststructuralist Research” (YouTube)
     
    Instructions: Please click on the link above, and view the brief lecture.  This lecture is meant to give you an idea about how feminist poststructuralist research is performed.  Viewing this lecture and pausing to take notes should take approximately 15 minutes to complete.
     
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4.2 Key Issues in the Third Wave   - Reading: Audre Lorde’s “The Master’s Tools Will Never Dismantle the Master’s House” Link: Audre Lorde’s “The Master’s Tools Will Never Dismantle the Master’s House” (HTML)
 
Instructions: Please click on the link above, and read the entire essay.  Audre Lorde’s essay, “The Master’s Tools Will Never Dismantle the Master’s House,” is a good way to start our exploration of key issues in the Third Wave.  In reading the essay, note Lorde’s insistence that feminists not limit themselves to “women’s issues,” but also engage with issues of race, class, and gay and lesbian rights.  This reading should take you approximately 30 minutes to complete.
 
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4.2.1 Sex and Gender   - Reading: Theory.org.uk: David Gauntlett’s “Judith Butler” Link: Theory.org.uk: David Gauntlett’s “Judith Butler” (HTML)
 
Instructions: Read this overview of contemporary feminist Judith Butler.  Butler’s work on gender performance as separate and distinct from sexual identity has influenced feminist and cultural critics alike.  This reading should take you approximately 30 minutes to complete.
 
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  • Reading: Ron Hammond and Paul Cheney’s Sociology and the Family: “Chapter 4: Gender and Socialization” Link: Ron Hammond and Paul Cheney’s Sociology and the Family: “Chapter 4: Gender and Socialization” (HTML)
     
    Instructions: Please click on the link above, and read Chapter 4 in its entirety.  Biological differences between men and women were said to be of little significance in First Wave feminism.  Second Wave feminists acknowledged biological differences – in particular, women’s reproductive capacities – and suggested that men should take a larger role at home and in childrearing.  Third Wave feminists also point to biological differences between men and women but draw on medical research demonstrating more commonalities than differences.  This chapter on the socialization processes inherent to gender and sex offers an academic discussion of sex and gender differences and will provide you with useful background for future readings.  This reading should take you approximately 1 hour to complete.
     
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  • Reading: Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy: Cressida Heyes’ “Identity Politics” Link: Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy: Cressida Heyes’ “Identity Politics” (HTML)
     
    Instructions: A Foucauldian notion of power helps us in thinking about gender as something socially constructed.  Scholars of identity politics argue that sex is a social construction, too, but not all Third Wave feminists go that far.  Read the entire entry on “Identity Politics.”   Note in the “Gender and Feminism” section that Judith Butler argues that if “woman” and “feminine” are social constructions, and if identity in general is socially constructed, then Third Wave feminism leads us to ask why we privilege “woman” and the “feminine.”  This reading should take you approximately 2 hours to complete.
     
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  • Lecture: Yale University Open Courses: Paul Fry’s “Queer Theory and Gender Performativity” Link: Yale University Open Courses: Paul Fry’s “Queer Theory and Gender Performativity” (JWPlayer)

    Also available in:
    YouTube
    Transcript (HTML)
     
    Instructions: Please click on the link above, and watch the entire lecture.  You may also click on the link for the transcript, and read along with the lecture.  Professor Paul Fry, a Yale University professor, discusses the work of Judith Butler in the context of Michel Foucault’s History of Sexuality.  This lecture should take you approximately 1 hour to complete.
     
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  • Reading: Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy: Talia Bettcher’s “Feminists Perspectives on Trans Issues” Link: Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy: Talia Bettcher’s “Feminists Perspectives on Trans Issues” (HTML)
     
    Instructions: Please click on the link above, and read the entire entry.  Animportant subset of feminist concerns addresses competing conceptions of the self and its relation to gender, sexual identity, and gender performance.  Studying this entry engages with these issues and should take you approximately 2 hours and 30 minutes to complete.
     
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4.2.2 Race and Class   - Lecture: YouTube: UC Davis’s Women’s Resources and Research Center: Angela Davis’s “How Does Change Happen?” Link: YouTube: UC Davis’s Women’s Resources and Research Center: Angela Davis’s “How Does Change Happen?” (YouTube)
 
Instructions: Please click on the link above, and view this entire lecture.  In this lecture, Davis situates concerns and criticisms within feminism regarding race and class.  Viewing this lecture and pausing to take notes should take you approximately 1 hour and 15 minutes to complete.
 
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4.3 Feminist Issues in the Global Context   4.3.1 Global Feminist Community   - Reading: National Organization for Women: “NOW and Global Feminism” Link: National Organization for Women: “NOW and Global Feminism” (HTML)
 
Instructions: Pease click on the link above, and explore links of interest on this webpage.  Only in the Third Wave did feminist thinkers and writers actively expand their attention to global concerns.  The National Organization of Women was key in promoting global examination of feminist concerns.  Spend at least 1 hour examining NOW coverage of global feminist issues.
 
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4.3.2 Concerns about Female Genital Mutilation   - Reading: Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy: Anita Superson’s “Feminist Moral Psychology” Link: Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy: Anita Superson’s “Feminist Moral Psychology” (HTML)
 
Instructions: Feminists in the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries have contested cultural and religious practices of genital mutilation in various parts of the world.  Read the entry on “Feminist Moral Psychology,” noting its call to take action against state and private behaviors deemed immoral in the U.S. and internationally.  This reading should take you approximately 2 hours to complete.
 
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  • Reading: Womenshealth.gov “Female Genital Cutting Fact Sheet” Link: Womenshealth.gov: “Female Genital Cutting Fact Sheet” (HTML)
     
    Instructions: Please click on the link above, and read the entire text.  This reading focuses on the various aspects of the issue of female genital mutilation.  It should take you approximately 45 minutes to complete.
     
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  • Web Media: YouTube: Journeyman Pictures: “Abandon the Knife - Kenya” Link: YouTube: Journeyman Pictures: “Abandon the Knife - Kenya” (YouTube)
     
    Instructions: Please click on the link above, and view the entire video.  The video examines efforts to end female genital cutting in Kenya.  Viewing this video and pausing to take notes should take you approximately 45 minutes to complete.
     
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4.3.3 The Arab Spring   - Reading: NPR: Sheera Frenkel’s “After the Revolution, Arab Women Seek More Rights” Link: NPR: Sheera Frenkel’s “After the Revolution, Arab Women Seek More Rights” (HTML, Flash)
 
Instructions: Please click on the link above, and read the entire article.  You may also click on the play button to listen to the program.  The West characterized democratic revolutions in the Arab world in the spring and summer of 2011 as the “Arab Spring.”  Concerns about women’s rights, along with individual human rights more generally, played an integral role in the uprisings.  As you read or listen to the NPR story, apply what you have learned about a variety of feminist critiques to the “Arab Spring.”  The reading should take you approximately 30 minutes to complete.
 
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