Political Science | Politics of Gender and Sexuality
Y353 | 25749 | Robinson

Meets with G302

Why is Plan B  a politically hot issue in the US but widely accepted
in France for adolescents?  Why is abortion legal in some countries
(but circumscribed) and criminal in other places? Why is
prostitution an accepted form of work in some cities and states, but
taboo in others?  Why is it that girls have a smaller chance than
boys of surviving childhood  or even birth--  in parts of Asia and
Africa?  Why do states attempt to regulate who we have sex with and
the kind of sex we have? And what kinds of sexual practices are
immune to state regulation?  Why is AIDS a political issue and why
do different governments resolve the AIDS dilemma differently? What
role do religions, social movements, ideologies, and  economies play
in shaping national and international policies and practices about
sex and gender?

In other words, what are the political, economic and social
conditions that shape lived gender and sexuality?
There is far too much to cover in one course, so what we will do is
focus on several cases of the regulation of sexualities and genders,
and apply social and political analysis to uncover why some
political systems have more tolerant gender and sexuality policies
than others.  The cases will include among others abortion and
contraception, sex work and prostitution, sex education,  marriage
(both same-sex and opposite sex), AIDS and other STDs.  The places
will include the United States, France, China, Thailand, Russia and
Eastern Europe, South Africa and the Middle East.  Rather than
assuming that North American patterns of regulating sexuality are
universal, we will be taking an analytical look at how genders and
sexualities are shaped by politics in different societies.  Our
examination will include how the global economy and politics inform
the national and cross-national regulation of gender and

Reading materials for the course will include articles, legal
decisions, and  book-length monographs.   Requirements will include
three short exams, one 10-page research paper on a sexuality/gender
issue in one country, and a group presentation focused  on comparing
that same issue across nations (as part of a 2-day mock
International Conference on Sexuality Policies).  The books I have
ordered through the bookstore include:
Janice M. Irvine, Talk About Sex: The Battles over Sex Education in
the United States University of California Press, 2002 ; pbk 0-520-

Elizabeth Bernstein and Laurie Schaffner,  Regulating Sex: The
Politics of Intimacy and Identity  Routledge, 2005 pbk:  0-415-94869-

Janet E Johnson and Jean C Robinson, Living Gender after Communism
IU Press,  ISBN-13: 978-0-253-34812-8  2007

Melody Rose,  Safe, Legal and Unavailable? Abortion Politics in the
United States  CQ, 2006:  isbn 1-933116-89-7