WMST/PL SC 428                                          Gender and Politics

TR 2:30-3:45 p.m.                                            323 E Health and Human Dev. East



Prof. Lee Ann Banaszak                                   Michael Lipscomb

Burrowes Hall N-157                                       Sparks 208

Office Hrs.: TR 11:15-12:15,                            Office Hrs: TW 8-10 a.m.

            T 4-5 p.m., or by appt.                         or by appointment

Telephone: 865-6573                                       Telephone: 863-4331

E-Mail:  lab14@psu.edu                                   E-Mail: mel150@psu.edu


Course Description


This course is designed as an overview to the field of women and politics.  It examines the role that women play in politics in the United States and around the world.  Two questions will continue to arise throughout the semester:  1) To what extent do women think, believe, and act differently from men in politics and what are the reasons for the existing differences?  2)  What is feminist politics and to what extent are the activities of women in politics today feminist?  We will begin by examining how women are socialized differently from men and how that socialization affects women's political attitudes and participation.  We will then focus on women in different political offices and how their behavior compares to that of their male counterparts.  We will then analyze the women's movement in the United States.  Finally, we will turn to different theories of the ideal position of women and men in politics and use those theories to explore the issue of pornography.  I hope that this course will awaken your interest in the role of gender in politics.  At the same time, I hope you develop more informed judgments about and familiarity with the types of evidence used to discuss gender and politics.




Required Readings


            Tolleson-Rinehart, Sue and Jyl Josephson, eds. 2000.  Gender and American Politics.  Armonk, NY: M.E. Sharpe.


            Ryan, Barbara.  1992.  Feminism and the Women's Movement.  New York: Routledge.


            ** Most other readings are available through the Electronic Reserve System of Pattee Library at http://reserve.libraries.psu.edu except where noted. **



Course Requirements


Student Responsibilities:  The class will meet Tuesday and Thursday from 2:30 pm  to 3:45 pm.  This course will be in seminar format, which means that each individual student is responsible for completing the readings prior to the class meetings, and for contributing to the discussion of the material.  For this reason, participation in class discussion is a requirement of the course and a significant portion of your final grade.


Grades:  There are a total of 1000 points that can be earned throughout the semester.  Grades will be determined by the percentage of the total possible points that you earn.  For example, an A grade requires 950 or more points (or 95% of the total points possible).  All students in the class will be graded on the following elements:


            a) Final exam, cumulative based on the readings and discussion throughout the semester (worth 250 points or 25% of your total grade).


            b)  Short Essays (worth 300 points or 30% of your total grade). You will need to write 4 short essays of 3-5 pages on the readings (each worth 75 points or 7.5% of your grade).  These papers are due the next class day after a section is finished.  For more information see the descriptions of the short essays at the end of the syllabus. 


            c) Class Participation (150 points or 15%).  Class participation includes attendance and participation in class.  Since you cannot participate if you are not present, class attendance is part of the class participation portion of your grade.  I will be regularly taking attendance.  However, to receive a good grade you must also participate in class discussions on a regular basis.  On the first day of class, each student will be assigned to an A or B group.  Each time an A or B appears in the syllabus, you are on call.  If you are not prepared for discussion on a day you are on call, you will lose points for the discussion.


            d) Advocacy Paper (worth 300 points or 30% of your grade).  This is a research paper no longer than 14 pages in length that advocates a specific government policy on an issue affecting women.  Papers will be due on April 24th. At the end of the syllabus is a description of what is entailed in the advocacy paper.



Late Policy for Papers and Assignments.

Late assignments and final papers will be graded down one letter grade for each day they are late (e.g. from A to A-), and will not be accepted if they are more than a week late unless they are accompanied by a valid medical or university excuse. 


Academic Honesty Policy

Please see the departmental policy on academic dishonesty attached to this syllabus.  You should know that I take academic dishonesty very seriously.  All students caught committing acts of academic dishonesty will be referred to Judicial Affairs and will receive an F in the course.

The largest confusion about academic honesty occurs on the question of plagiarism. Failure to provide adequate acknowledgment of the source of ideas which are not your own constitutes plagiarism. Plagiarism occurs even when you paraphrase ideas that are not your own as long as you do not credit the original source. Therefore, even when you paraphrase, you must provide adequate citations. A second common mistake is inadequate use of quotation marks. Even if you take as few as 3 consecutive words from a source, you need to use quotation marks and provide a citation. If you paraphrase a work, be sure that it is completely different from the original in structure and language, and that you provide a citation to the original source. If you are unsure when and how to use quotation marks or how to adequately cite materials, use a guide to writing English (I will be happy to recommend one), visit the Writing Center (219 Boucke, 865-1841), or see me.





Tentative Course Outline


Day                              Required Reading


Jan. 9                           Introduction




Jan. 11                         (B) Greenstein, Fred.  Excerpts from Children and Politics

                                    (1969) New Haven: Yale University Press, pp. 111-127

                                    and Appendix A.  (Electronic Reserve)



Jan. 16                         (A) Sapiro, Virginia.  Excerpts from The Political

                                    Integration of Women (1983) Urbana: University of

                                    Illinois Press:, pp. 36-53.  (Electronic Reserve)


Jan. 18                         (B) Gender and American Politics, Chapter 2


Short Assignment Suggestion:  Compare and contrast the different views of gender socialization presented by the three authors.  What implications do they have for the future of women in the political process?




Jan. 23                         (A) Gender and American Politics, Chapter 1

                                    **FIRST SHORT ESSAY DUE**


Jan. 25                         (B) Political Participation


                                    Welch, Susan.  1977.  “Women as Political Animals?  A Test

                                    of Some Explanations for Male-Female Political

                                    Participation Differences”,  American Journal of Political

                                    Science, XXI( 4: 711-730). (Electronic Reserve)




                                    Gender and American Politics, Chapter 3.



Jan. 30                         (A) Linda Bennett and Stephen Bennett “Changing Views about Gender Equality in Politics” in Women in Politics, Lois Lovelace Duke, ed. pp. 46-56. (Electronic Reserve)



Feb. 1                          (B) The Gender Gaps and the Election


                                    Gail Collins and Illustrations by Cathy Guisewite.  1996.                                                                                                “Wooing the Women”  The New York Times Magazine.

                                    July 28, 1996 (Section 6): 32 - 35. (Electronic Reserve)




Mary E. Bendyna and Celinda Lake. 1994.  “Gender and Voting in the 1992 Presidential Election.”  in The Year of the Woman: Myths and Realities, Elizabeth Cook, Sue Thomas and Clyde Wilcox, eds. pp. 237-254.  Boulder: Westview Press. (Electronic Reserve)



Short Assignment Suggestion:  From the articles you have read discuss how men and women are differ in their public opinion and political participation.  Do these differences reflect fundamental gender differences?  Explain your answer.



Feb. 6                          Library Resource Day 

**Meet in 203 Paterno Library**

                                    **SECOND SHORT ESSAY DUE**




Feb. 8                          (A) Gender and American Politics, Chapter 10




Center for American Women and Politcs.  “Election 2000, Results for Women”  Found at: http://www.rci.rutgers.edu/~cawp/facts/Summary2000.html


Feb. 13                        (B) Thomas, Sue and Clyde Wilcox, eds.  1998.  Women and Elective Office (Oxford:Oxford University Press), Chapters 8 and 9.  (Electronic Reserve)


Feb. 15                        (A) Gender and American Politcs, Chapter 9


Feb. 20                        (B) Gender and American Politcs, Chapter 8


Feb. 22                        (A) Women as World Leaders


Chapt. 1 (pp. 15-30), Chapt. 4 (pp.59-69) and Chapt. 7 (pp.95-112) of Women in World Politics, edited by Francine D’Amico and Peter Beckman (1995: Bergin and Garvey).  (Electronic Reserve)



Short Assignment Suggestion:  How do women differ from men when they take political office?  Does the type of office (e.g. legislature, judicial position, or head of state) make a difference for how women act?





Feb. 27                        (B)Ryan, pp. 1-38      

                                    **THIRD SHORT ESSAY DUE**


Mar. 1                          (A)Ryan, pp. 39-97


Mar. 13                        (B) Ryan, pp. 99-134 and & 153-161


Short Assignment Suggestion:  Ryan discusses the dynamics of the women's movement, dividing the movement into three time periods: the early 1960s to 1975, 1975-1982, and the Reagan/Bush years.  Describe the changes that occur in both the mass movement and small groups sector of the movement from the early 1960s to the 1990s.  What factors played the largest roles in determining the success and failure of these two sectors during different periods?




Mar. 15                        (A) Liberal Feminism

Mary Wollstonecraft, A Vindication of the Rights of Woman, in Political Writings , ed. By Janice Todd (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1993), pp. 81 -110.  (Electronic Reserve)



Mar. 20                        (B) Difference Feminism.

Carol Gilligan, In A Different Voice: Psychological Theory and Women’s Development, pp.5 - 23.  (Electronic Reserve)


Mar. 22                        (A) Feminism and Marxism,

Engels, “The Origin of the Family, Private Property, and the State,” The Marx-Engels Reader (New York: W. W. Norton, 1978), 734 – 759.  (Electronic Reserve)




Heidi Hartman, “The Unhappy Marriage of Marxism and Feminism,” in Love, 503 – 522 (Electronic Reserve)


Mar. 27                        (B) Nancy Hartsock, “The Feminist Standpoint: Developing the Ground for a Specifically Feminist Historical Marxism,” in The Feminist Standpoint Revisited and Other Essays (Boulder Colorado: Westview Press, 1997), 105 – 132. (Electronic Reserve)


Mar. 29                        (A) Susan Faludi, “The Son, the Moon, and the Stars: The Promise of Postwar Manhood,” from Stiffed (New York: Morrow, 1999), 3 - 47.  (Electronic Reserve)


Optional: Michael S. Kimmel, "Men and Women's Studies: Premises, Perils, and Promise," in Talking Gender, Hewitt ed. (Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press, 1966). (Electronic Reserve)

April 3                          (B) Monique Wittig, “One is Not Born a Woman,” in Love, 523 – 27.  (Electronic Reserve)


April 5                          (A) Susan Bordo, “Anorexia Nervosa: Psychopathology as the Crystallization of Culture,” from Unbearable Weight: Feminism, Western Culture and the Body (Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 1993), 139 – 164.  (Electronic Reserve)


Short Assignment Suggestion:  TBA.



April 10                        (B) Gloria Steinem, “Erotica vs. Pornography.”  This is on file at the wmst office.

                                    **FIFTH SHORT ESSAY DUE**


April 12                        (A) Catherine Mackinnon, Only Words (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1993), Chapter One. (Electronic Reserve)


April 17                        (B) Andrea Dworkin, selections from Intercourse (New York: Free Press, 1987).  In class: Pornography, video.


April 19                        (A) Suzie Bright, “The Prime of Miss Kitty McKinnon,” from Sexwise.


April 24                        (B) Michael S. Kimmel, selection from Men Confront Pornography (New York: Crown Publishers, 1990). 


April 26                        (A) Susan Faludi, “Waiting for Wood: A Death on the New Frontier,” from Stiffed, 530 - 574.                            


Short Assignment Suggestion:  TBA.


                        **SIXTH SHORT ESSAY DUE MAY 1ST **


Final Exam                   TENTATIVELY, Friday MAY 4TH, 2:30-4:20p.m.


Short Essay Assignment


Topic.  For the short essay assignments, you may choose to write on the suggested topic or you may choose a topic of your own.  If you choose to pick your own topic, you should choose a topic that allows you to analyze the set of readings. Analyzing is not the same as summarizing the reading although you may need to provide several sentences of background before you begin your argument.  It is also not just reacting to the reading.  Rather it is an intellectual examination or critique of the arguments of the author.  This can be done in many ways.  In the past, students have critically analyzed readings by  1) comparing the work to others we have read in this class; 2) criticizing the arguments of the work and backing up those criticisms with evidence or logic, 3) applying the author's argument to current events (particularly if they lead you to look at them in a new light), or 4) following a specific theme throughout the reading and analyzing it in depth.


Essay Length.  The short essay should be no more than five double-spaced typewritten pages.   In writing the essay, you should make sure that your paper develops a specific argument and provides supporting evidence for the argument you develop.  It is better to develop the argument in-depth rather than being too general.


Due Date.  Essays are due in the class period after the readings on a particular topic are discussed.  The due dates of short essays are marked in the class schedule.  Short essays handed in late will be graded down for each day they are late (unless accompanied by a doctor’s excuse) and no short essays will be accepted one week after the due date.

Note that there are 6 short essay topics available but only 4 essays are required.  The top 4 grades on the short essays may be taken.  This means that each person may either do all 6 essays and take the best grades, or skip 2 essays without penalty. 


Grading Criteria. Papers are to be your own work (do not work in groups) and will be evaluated along three dimensions: analysis, documentation, and writing.  The short essays should not just summarize the work but should analyze the readings and make a specific argument.  In order to make a strong argument, you will need to provide evidence or logic to support your argument.  Reacting on an emotional level to the readings or simply relating it to personal experience does not constitute an analysis of the readings.  Because the ability to explain one's thoughts on paper to others is an expectation of all serious scholars, writing counts and will be a consideration in paper grading.  Finally, be sure to cite correctly (with reference to the author and with page numbers) and use quotation marks (when appropriate) when you draw points from the assigned readings.


Advocacy Paper Assignment


The purpose of this paper is to allow you to become an advocate for a specific policy related to women.  You are to become a policy expert in this field and you must then write a paper that convinces the less knowledgeable that your policy is the best available choice for women.


Paper Content: The paper should have two parts.  The first part of the paper should focus on the background of the issue.  Examine recent governmental activity on this issue, including a brief history of federal or state efforts to handle the issue and various proposals for action.  A good analysis of the background of the issue will also include a discussion of what values these policies promote, which interests support or oppose current policies and if, and why, these policies are inadequate.


The second section should advocate a specific policy in the area.  Discuss why this policy is necessary and how it would address current problems or inadequacies.   In so doing, you will want to be clear about the underlying values you are assuming.


Papers are to be your own work (do not work in groups) and will be evaluated along three dimensions: research and documentation, analysis, and writing.  Because the ability to explain one's thoughts on paper to others is an expectation of all serious scholars, WRITING COUNTS and will be a consideration in paper grading.  Your writing should use proper sentence structure and correct grammar, spelling, punctuation, typing etc.  Your analysis should be critical in your appraisal of other authors or current policies; I encourage you to include your own ideas or criticisms that others have not yet noticed or described.  However, your analysis should also be well-developed and supported by evidence, accurate data, and/or a plausible example (See section on what constitutes good evidence).  When presenting ideas which are not your own, you must use quotation marks and/or references to indicate that the idea is not your own.  But be careful of excessive use of quotations; too many quotes often lowers the quality of a paper. 



Topics:  There are 7 possible topics for the paper.  In order to assure that sufficient library sources are available to everyone, only a maximum of 7 people will be allowed to work on the same topic.   You will be assigned to a group based on your preferences for a topic.  At some point during the first few weeks of class, I will ask you to rank order the topics from favorite to least favorite.  I will assign you a topic based on your preferences and the demand for each topic.  The possible topics are:

            1) domestic violence

            2) health care policy for women

            3) sexual harassment

            4) equal opportunity and affirmative action

            5) lesbian rights

            6) genetic and reproductive engineering

            7) women in the military


Research and Documentation: A good place to start looking for materials is in the bibliographies of some of the required readings for this course. When you find a useful book, you should also check the bibliography to see what other materials are cited.  Appropriate materials can also be found by checking the CAT (the computerized card-catalogue of the library) or some of the Journal or Newspaper databases on LIAS.  Numerous sources specific to the topic of the paper will also be discussed in the class on finding appropriate library sources.  While I encourage you to use sources on the World Wide Web, be careful in using such sources.  You will need to be selective in which sources you utilize (after all, any fool can put material – false or true -- on the web).  In addition, the web doesn’t always contain good background on issues since it is only a few years old.  For these reasons, it is usually impossible to write a good advocacy paper using only web sources.

You might also consider gathering information by interviewing or writing to relevant activists, such as pressure group leaders, elected representatives, or information centers on public policy concerning women.  In all of these cases, be sure to cite the source of the material you use in your paper.


What Constitutes Strong Evidence.


Both the short essay assignments and the advocacy paper assignment require that you use evidence to back up your arguments.   Evidence consists of facts that support the specific point that you are making; they are not merely opinion or assertion.  Evidence is also not simply an appeal to or citation of some other scholar. 

Consider the following examples that try to use evidence to back up an argument about how women think about politics.

1) Women are raised from childhood not to be interested in politics.  They are encouraged to play games that emphasize the home and interpersonal relationships.

2) Women are raised from childhood not to be interested in politics (Greenstein 1969: 112).  They are encouraged to play games that emphasize the home and interpersonal relationships (Greenstein 1969: 120).

3) Women are raised from childhood not to be interested in politics.  A survey of American children in New Haven showed that by the age of ten, boys were already more interested in politics than girls (Greenstein 1969: 112).  The boys in the sample were particularly likely to mention international events, particularly war, as being of interest.  They also mentioned playing more war-related games than the girls in the sample, who tended to play games related to the family (Greenstein 1969: 120).

As written, number 1 is not evidence.  It is a set of assertions, since there is no reference to any factual source.  Number 2 is slightly better, since it at least cites a source of information.  However, it does not provide any detail on the (quite general) statements made.  Number 3 uses information and data well.  It furnishes facts to support the general statements, giving a sense of how the author knows that women were raised differently from men.  Of course, it also gives the source of the information.  Even better would be to use multiple sources to verify that this particular study was correct. 

In addition, not all facts are of the same quality.  For example, if I tell you “I always eat Cheerios for breakfast,” you might use this as evidence for the fact that I eat cereal for breakfast.  However, it would be better to actually observe the behavior.  I may be exaggerating or even lying.  More importantly, my statement or even observing me eat the cereal does not provide evidence for a widespread phenomenon (i.e., Professors always eat Cheerios for breakfast).   To provide good evidence for the statement, “professors always eat Cheerios for breakfast,” you need to have information about more than one professor in more than one department at more than one university.  In writing essays and in reading the works of others, you should always consider the quality of the evidence.