Week 2: September 8, 2019 – Sex, Gender, & Feminism

Discussion and readings focus on defining feminism, feminism in practice, distinguishing between sex vs. gender, and the formative connections between gender and language.

Readings Due: 

  • Adichie, Chimamanda Ngozi. We Should All Be Feminists.
  • Criado Perez, Caroline. “Introduction” and “One-Size-Fits-Men” Invisible Women: Data Bias in a World Designed for Men. [PDF in Commons]
  • Ahmed, Sarah, Jane Kilby, Celia Lury, Maureen McNeil, and Beverly Skeggs. “Introduction: Thinking Through Feminism.” Transformations : Thinking Through Feminism, edited by Sarah Ahmed, et al., Routledge, 2000. ProQuest Ebook Central, https://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/cunygc/detail.action?docID=242222. [Accessible through library website.]
  • Eckert, Penelope, and Sally McConnell-Ginet. Language and Gender. 2nd Edition. Cambridge UP: Cambridge, 2013. pp 1-36 [PDF in Commons]

Optional viewing:

Discussion Questions for class: 
During class in Week 2, you will be placed into groups. Each group will be assigned one of the sets of questions below. You will be able to begin discussion with your group using during the first 15-20 minutes of class which will result in a 5 minute slide show presentation that you will deliver to the rest of the class over Zoom. The slide show can make use of gifs, images, quotes, video, etc. It should summarize, paraphrase, and use examples from the readings, and connect the readings to your real-world experience. After class, slide decks will be collected and deposited into the Commons Group Library for future reference. Please be sure to include your names on your slides.

  • What is the difference between sex and gender? How does placing sex difference at the center of social and scientific research present problems? Why do we continue to do it? What does it mean to look at gender as “scalar” rather than “dichotomous”? What are the advantages and disadvantages of doing so? How would it change research practices?
  • Eckert and McConnell-Ginet write: “Ways of thinking become common sense when we cease to notice their provenance — and this happens when they occur continually in enough places in everyday discourse” (29). How is hegemony with regard to gender achieved  through language? institutions? cultural practice? 
  • In “Thinking Through Feminism,” the authors begin by saying: “The desire for transformation animates feminist practice.” How do the authors define feminism? What is the difficulty of using the word “transformation” to refer to feminist practice? How do the authors reconcile that there are multiple “feminisms”? Transformation necessarily means that something is being transformed–an object. What complications does the word “objective” present the authors, and how do they resolve that trouble? 
  • Both Adichie and Beard describe the challenges presented to feminism and to women with respect to their use of language. How is voice and language related to power and agency? How are women silenced, and what impact do you think that might have on computational text analysis?  

Notebook / Tech Assignments: 

Additional Resources: