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Women's Realities, Women's Choices

An Introduction to Women's and Gender Studies

Fourth Edition

Sarah Chinn, Linda Martin Alcoff, Jacqueline Nassy Brown, Florence Denmark, Dorothy O. Helly, Shirley Hune, Rupal Oza, Sarah B. Pomeroy, and Carolyn M. Somerville

Publication Date - 06 February 2014

ISBN: 9780199843602

512 pages
7-1/2 x 9-1/4 inches

In Stock

A truly interdisciplinary approach to understanding the diversity of women's lives


This landmark text introduces readers to the field of women's studies by analyzing the contradictions between social and cultural "givens" and the realities that women face in society. Written collectively by nine authors from various disciplines, Women's Realities, Women's Choices, Fourth Edition, has been updated to incorporate the latest research and statistics in the field. Covering the most recent developments in politics, labor, family life, religion, and culture, the book also features extensive research on relevant social issues, such as the impact of the post-Soviet world on women's lives, the experience of homosexuality in family life, and the effects of economic globalization on women worldwide. Examining women as individuals, as family members, and as a force in the greater social fabric, Women's Realities, Women's Choices remains the most timely, comprehensive, and compelling introduction to the field of women's studies.

New to This Edition

* An updated conceptual organization
* A focus on transnational feminism and globalization
* An entire chapter devoted to intersectionality and differences among women
* Updates to every chapter, reflecting changes in the field and in the world

About the Author(s)

The Hunter College Women's and Gender Studies Collective is made up of nine authors from various disciplines, all affiliated with Hunter's Women's Studies Department. The authors are: Linda Alcoff, Jacqueline Nassy Brown, Sarah Chinn, Florence Denmark, Dorothy O. Helly, Shirley Hune, Rupal Oza, Sarah B. Pomeroy, and Carolyn Somerville.

Previous Publication Date(s)

March 2005
March 1995
January 1983

Table of Contents

    Each chapter ends with a Summary, Discussion Questions, and Recommended Readings.

    Boxes and Tables
    Foreword to the Fourth Edition
    The Authors
    Introduction: Why Women's Studies?
    Adding to our Knowledge About Humans
    Changing Views of Women and Men
    Gender Now
    History of Women's Studies
    The U.S. Women's Movement: a Brief History
    How This Book Presents Women's Studies

    PART I: Defining Women and Gender

    1. Cultural Representations of Women

    Culture, Representation, and Gender
    Experience, Perception, and the Construction of Reality
    The Construction of Gender in Culture and in Ourselves
    Language as a Cultural System
    The Relationship Between Language and Culture
    Changes in Language
    Enduring Symbols of Women
    Images of Women in Mythical and Religious Texts
    Changing Representations of Women's Sexuality
    The "Sexual Revolution" and its Legacies
    Women's Sexuality in Recent Popular Culture
    Can We Change Reality by Changing Images?
    Reshaping Representation
    Women's Search for Self Through Art
    Historical Perspective.
    Women's Search for Self Through Literature
    Women as Heroes
    Telling Other Stories
    Writing as Political Activism
    Representation in the Internet Age
    Gender in Film: A Case Study

    2. Ideas and Theories about Women and Gender
    Why Ideas and Theories Are Important
    Ancient and Early Modern Ideas about Women and Gender
    Classical Liberalism and Feminism
    Mill and Taylor
    Contemporary Liberal Feminism
    Socialism and Feminism
    Marx and Engels
    Contemporary Socialist Feminism
    Simone de Beauvoir
    Woman as "Object"
    Woman as "Other"
    Contemporary Feminist Debates
    Radical Feminism and Cultural Feminism
    Black Feminism
    Postmodern Feminism
    Psychoanalytic Feminism
    Transnational feminism
    Contemporary Feminist Philosophy
    Rethinking "Knowledge" and Values of Inquiry
    The Ethics of Care
    The Nature of Gender

    3. Intersectionality
    Sexism and Racism
    Sexism and Heterosexism
    Historical Foundations of Intersectionality
    Anna Julia Cooper
    Angela Davis
    Audre Lorde
    Combahee River Collective
    Gloria Anzaldúa
    Intersectional Approaches to Feminist Activism
    Shifting Policy Demands
    Global Intersections
    Intersectional Approaches to Feminist Scholarship
    Intersectional Identities
    Research Methods
    Debates over Intersectionality

    4. Learning, Making, and Doing Gender
    What Is Gender?
    Sex Versus Gender
    Gender Expression
    Traditional Explanations for Gender Differences
    Anatomical and Evolutionary Differences
    Psychoanalytic Theory
    Neurobiological and Hormonal Explanations
    Feminist Critiques of Theories of Gender
    Feminist Psychoanalysis
    The Importance of Culture
    The Importance of Relatedness
    Rethinking Biology
    How Do We Learn Gender?
    Cognitive-Developmental Theory
    Social Learning Theory
    Gender Schema Theory
    Social Interactions and Gender Roles
    Performativity Theory
    How Gender is Enforced
    Alternative Gender Arrangements
    Historical Challenges to Gender
    Gender Outside the Binary

    5. Gender and the Politics of The Body
    Feminism and the Body
    Mind/Body Dualism
    The Body as Natural
    The Nature of Sex Differences
    The Gendered Brain
    The Sexed Body: Hormones, Chromosomes, and Genitalia
    Gender and The Medicalization of the Body
    Discourses of Sexuality
    Feminist Philosophers and Anthropologists Rethink the Body
    The Female Body on the World Stage: Two Case Studies
    Bodies as Battlegrounds
    Female Genital Cutting

    PART II: Women's Relationships, Women's Selves

    6. Families and Their Configurations
    The Family as an Evolving Social Organization
    The Nuclear and Extended Family
    Conventional Marriage: Why Marry?
    Whom to Marry?
    The Traditional Marital Household
    The Incorporated Wife
    Children in the Family
    Elders in the Family
    Marriage and Gender Roles in the United States in a Historical Perspective
    Extramarital Experiences
    Alternatives to Conventional Marriage in the Past
    Religious Communities
    Laboring Communities
    Utopian and Experimental Communities
    Families in the Early Twenty-First Century
    Changes in the Global South
    Changes in the Global North
    "New" Family Configurations
    Single-Parent Families
    Consensual Unions: Cohabitation, Domestic Partners
    Multiracial Families
    Families We Choose
    Same-Sex Families
    Visiting Unions, Living Apart Together
    Transnational Families
    Role Reversals
    Choosing Not to Mother, Childless Couples
    Women on Their Own

    7. Mothers
    Images of Mothers
    Representations of Motherhood in the West
    "The Happy Mother": A Western Image as Political Ideology
    The Impact of Class, Race, and Ethnicity in the United States
    Motherhood and the Media
    Mothers Speak Out
    Parental Behavior: "Instinct" and Culture
    Motherhood: Ideology and Reality
    The Assignment of Motherhood: Whose Interest Does It Serve?
    The Cultural Shaping of Biological Events
    Attitudes about Pregnancy
    Childbirth: A Cultural or a Natural Event?
    Breast-Feeding: Attitudes and Choices
    Support Systems: Fathers, Women's Networks, and Institutionalized and Societal Support
    Women's Networks, Community, and Institutionalized Support
    Childrearing Experts
    Choices and Control: The Politics of Motherhood
    Whether, When, and How Often to Become a Mother
    Control over Children
    Working for Wages
    "Unnatural" Mothers: Mothers Who Give Up Their Children
    Women Other Than Birth Mothers Who Mother
    Lesbian Co-mothers
    Foster Mothers and Adoptive Mothers

    8. Growing Up and Growing Older

    Daughter in the Family
    Female Infanticide and Neglect
    The Value of Daughters
    Naming the Daughter
    Daughters' Work
    Parental Relationships
    Daughters and Mothers
    Daughters and Fathers
    Daughters in Varied Family Configurations
    Sibling Relationships
    Sisters as Opposites and Companions
    Sister-Brother Relations
    Sisters as Sources as Strength
    Women Growing Older
    The Double Standard of Aging
    Life Events and Role Transitions
    Midlife to Later Adulthood
    Housing Transitions
    Work Force Changes
    The Sisterhood of Women

    9. Women's Health
    The Women's Health Movement
    Redefining and Reframing Health
    Why "Women's" Health?
    Health, Gender and Human Rights
    Reforming the Health-Care System
    Uncovering the Gender Dynamics of Western Medicine
    Woman as Deviant
    Woman as "the Weaker Sex."
    The Gendered Profession of Medicine
    The Medicalization of Life Processes
    Menstruation to Menopause
    Birth Control and Sterilization
    Impact of Social and Cultural Disparities on Women's Health
    Health Status and Risks
    Racial/Ethnic Discrimination
    Occupational Health Risks
    Physical Abuse
    Rape and PTSD
    Women and Physical Health: Some Specific Concerns
    Heart Disease
    Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STD) Infections including HIV/AIDS
    Alzheimer's Disease
    Women and Mental Health
    Gendered Differences
    Homophobic Bias
    Women as Special-Risk/Vulnerable Populations
    Refugee Women
    Women with Disabilities
    Older Women
    Incarcerated Women

    PART III: Women in Society

    10. Women and Education
    Women's Choices, Women's Constraints
    Men as the Measure of Knowledge
    The Rise of Feminist Scholarship
    Women's Choices, Women's Constraints
    Education as a Contested Arena: Who Should Be Taught?
    Gender, Educational Participation, and Illiteracy Globally
    Women's Struggles for Formal Education in the Past
    European Colonization and Women's Education
    Women's Struggles for Education in the Developing World Today
    Broadening U.S. Educational Participation: Racial Desegregation and Title IX
    Affirmative Action and Diversity in Higher Education Globally
    Education as a Contested Arena: What Should Be Taught?
    Women's Traditional Knowledge
    Formal Knowledge Defined by Men
    The Goals of Women's Education Debated
    The Debate in the United States
    Schools as Socializers of Gender Inequities
    Elementary Schools
    Secondary Schools
    Higher Education
    Educational Institutions as Gendered Workplaces
    Educational Barriers of Girls/Women in Diverse Communities in the Global North
    Gender and Cultural Assimilation
    Indigenous/Native Peoples' Experiences
    African American Experiences
    Immigrant Experiences
    Multicultural Education/Ethnic Studies as Resistance
    The Contemporary Struggle for Equal Access to Knowledge
    Re-entry/Adult Women
    Women: The New College Majority?
    Is There a Male Crisis in Educational Access?
    Transforming the Curriculum
    Empowering Women Learners
    Educational Achievements of Women's Colleges Debated
    Women's Struggles to become Scientists
    Women's and Gender Studies

    11. Women and Religion
    Religious Beliefs
    What Is Religion?
    Religion and Social Reform
    Established Religions
    Religions in Small-Scale Societies
    World Religions
    The Non-Religious
    Origin Myths
    Females in the Supernatural World
    Immortal Women: Souls, Saints, and Ghosts
    The Gender of God
    Religion and Social Controls
    Religion and the Family
    Life-Cycle Rituals.
    Sexual Controls.
    Protection of Women
    Beyond the Family
    Women as Worshipers
    Syncretistic and Evangelistic Religions
    Women and Religious Movements
    The Piety Movement
    Varieties of "Fundamentalism" and Women's Human Rights
    Secular conservatism
    Women as Religious Leaders
    Missionaries and Martyrs
    Religious Rebels
    Religious Expression
    The Religious Experiences of Women
    Women and Possession
    Women and Religion in the United States
    Leadership by Women
    Protestant Denominations
    Jewish Denominations
    Feminist Contributions to Religious Change

    12. The Labor of Women
    Division of Labor by Gender
    Maintenance of the Domestic Unit
    Women's Work in the Marketplace
    The Contribution of Women to Economic Development
    The Domestic Mode of Production
    Food Production
    Exchange and Marketing
    The Capitalist Mode of Production
    Urbanization and Class Distinctions
    Working for Wages: Its Organizational Prerequisites
    Women's Work
    Globalization and the Transformation of Work
    The Politics of Work: Barriers and Strategies
    Sexual and Gender Harassment
    Social Support for Working Women
    Laws Against Sexist Job Discrimination
    Equal Pay-Comparable Worth
    The Impact of the Women's Movement

    13. Feminism and Politics
    Feminism and Politics
    Political Power
    What Is Power?
    Power and Authority
    Types of Government
    Women's Political Power in the Past
    Patterns of Male Dominance
    Women as Political Leaders
    Recent Political Gains of Women in the United States
    Political Gains of Women in Office Around the Globe
    Do Women in Office Make a Difference?
    Right-wing Women
    Obstacles Facing Women in Politics
    The 2008 and 2012 US Presidential Elections
    Women as Citizens
    The Struggle for the Vote
    Equal Rights Amendment
    Women and the Law
    Women's Political Participation
    Women and Peace Movements
    Global Feminism and Human Rights

    Art Credits

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