We will review the course procedures and requirements, create a safe space, draw up a class contract, as well as create a forum for discussion regarding what students hope to obtain by taking this course.
We will discuss the importance of honesty and communication in relationships and group dynamics. Topics will include communication inhibitors, methods of effective communication, and asserting/respecting boundaries.
Anatomy, Sex, and Gender
This section includes a discussion of topics ranging from commonly perceived views of anatomy to an analysis of the social construction of gender and anatomical sex. We will also explore the spectrum of gender expression and identity as it relates to our own lives.
Power and Privilege
We will look at how systems of oppression shape the way individuals engage in the world and how power and privilege influence the way we live our lives. This includes an analysis of the “-isms” and how power and privilege play a role in providing choices, opportunities and access.
Health and Menstruation
We will discuss the structures of western medicine and non-western approaches to women’s health, as well as the following: breast self-exam, pelvic exam, yeast infections, urinary tract infections (UTI), toxic shock syndrome (TSS), menopause, mental health, the possible carcinogenic and negative effects of commonly used female products (tampons, douches, etc.), and the concept of women’s genitals as “dirty.” Discussion of cultural stigmatization of women’s menstrual cycles. Women’s health resources shared.
Contraception, Safer Sex, and Sexually Transmitted Infections
We will explore the full range of contraceptive choices, safer sex methods, as well as STI’s.
Body Image and Representation in Media
In this section we will look at how people have internalized views of beauty and attractiveness, leading to competition, acrimony, and unhealthy relationships to our bodies. We will discuss cultural variables for body image, as well as eating disorders and body dysmorphia. We will also begin to explore how sexuality is portrayed in different forms of popular media and analyze how such portrayals are influenced by age, race, class, etc. We then examine how these portrayals affect our personal lives and allot days to present the midterm Body Image projects.
Parenting, Motherhood, and Reproductive Choices
We will take an in-depth look at the variety of women’s reproductive choices. We will discuss cultural, ethnic, societal, religious, and political factors that affect women’s choices. Topics covered will include pregnancy, abortion, miscarriage, birth, and motherhood. We will also discuss effects pregnancy, childbirth, and motherhood have on sexuality.
Sexual Orientation and Consent
We will look at how society views sexuality, and factors that shape our sexuality including heterosexism, religion, culture, and ethnicity. Topics discussed: a variety of sexual practices, the spectrum of sexual orientation, and the expression of one’s own sexual desires.
Self-Pleasure and Orgasm/ Sexual Practices
We will look at different models of the sexual response cycle as well as discuss the physiological and psychological factors of orgasms, including childhood sexuality, cultural variables, and medical factors involved in the inhibition to orgasm. We will also discuss self-love, erogenous zones, female ejaculation, and negative and positive views of masturbation.
Pornography, Erotica, and Sex Work
We will discuss pornography and erotica in a variety of mediums, as well as various forms of sex work, and their effects on the women’s sexuality and different views of sex work. We will also discuss the taboos that surround pornography and sex work.
We will discuss the importance of honesty and communication in sexual and non-sexual relationships. Topics will include monogamy/polyamory, useful communication techniques.
We will take an in-depth look at gender-based violence in the many forms it takes, the victim vs. survivor paradigm, and we will share our own experiences with violence. We will read, analyze, discuss and share resources throughout the class.
We will explore the process of empowerment and the resulting power gained from the journey. We talk about the importance of challenging systems of oppression, community building, and individual empowerment. The last week will also be devoted to presenting final projects/papers and reflection.