Gender Studies | Themes in Gender Studies: The Face of Feminism in the Early 21st Century
G205 | 31503 | Davenport, C
In a 1992 fundraising letter opposing an Iowa equal-rights
amendment, Evangelical minister Pat Robertson wrote, "The feminist
agenda is not about equal rights for women. It is about a socialist,
anti-family political movement that encourages women to leave their
husbands, kill their children, practice witchcraft, destroy
capitalism and become lesbians."
In 2008, the Feminist Majority Foundation produced a video
announcing “This is What a Feminist Looks Like” that featured
everyday folks as well as celebrities, including “Ugly Betty” actor
America Ferrara and comedian Gilbert Gottfried. The video’s intent
was to dispel the many myths surrounding feminism—ideas like
feminists don’t like men, that they aren’t into fashion and makeup,
and that they are anti-family.
More recently, conservative politicians like Sarah Palin and
Christine O’Donnell have turned the tables on what was previously
seen as the liberal feminist label, claiming that they, too, are
feminists, but feminists of a different sort—certainly not the kind
of feminists fellow Republican Robertson was excoriating in 1992!
In this course we will consider not only the state of feminism in
the current moment, but an even more basic question—just what is
feminism? We will examine how our understanding of the
words “feminism” and “feminist” has been shaped by the media and
popular culture, how they are understood by the general population,
how they can impact politics, and how we might shape their meaning
in the future.
Some questions we will consider include:
• What does it mean to be a feminist—and who can claim to be
• What impact has feminism had on the lives of American women
and men, girls and boys?
• What are the real differences between Second Wave and Third
• What is the current state of feminism in the United States?
• Is there still a need for a feminist movement—or do we live
in a post-feminist age?