Gender in America

How does gender shape our lives and the world around us? In this course, we will examine gender, not as a simple biological difference, but as a social construction. Acquiring a gendered lens, we will examine gender roles in contemporary United States society and look into such topics as the constitution of selves and experiences of embodiment, cultural meaning associated with femininity and masculinity, socialization of children, inequality within institutions of work, family, and the media, and types of violence. This course reviews theories of the social construction of gender, how our culture attaches meaning to gender, and the way masculinity and femininity are assigned. It looks at the role of socialization in (re)producing gender roles and how our own embodiment of gender influences interactions in our daily lives. The course will analyze how gender roles are performed at the level of the individual. At the societal level, the course reviews the function gender plays in negotiating power and inequality in social institutions such as the family, work, education, and media systems. Throughout the course, attention will be paid to the complex interaction between gender and race, ethnicity, sexuality, and age. The goals are to have students think critically about gender and the way gender is experienced in the society in which we live.

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