What Is Women’s Studies?

I. What Is Women’s Studies? 

Rapid growth from first program in 1970

According to. Ms. Magazine’s “2009 Guide to Women’s Studies” and its portrait of the field today, of institutionalization and progress, and of salient issues and concerns, there are over 900 programs in 2009 and more than 10,000 courses in the United States; enrollment in Women’s Studies courses is “larger than that of any other interdisciplinary field.” There are 13 doctoral programs in the United States, at least 28 endowed chairs in Women’s Studies (and gender studies) (though 12 of them are currently vacant);

A. What is the relationship between women’s studies and the women’s movement? What is “mainstreaming”? 

B. What is meant by the term “the personal is political”? How might this term have implications for men’s education about women’s rights?

C. What are the three “Waves” of feminism? What does the “wave” metaphor provide us?

Ebb and flow in terms of periods of tie when women’s issues were prominent (new laws made and changes occur), and then periods of reaction and/or stagnation that followed, in which feminism was deemed “evil and socially destructive” (Kesselman)

First two “Waves” of organized movement by women, both in times of upheaval (culturally) and changing norms

1.  First Wave

2. Second Wave

Women’s Movement USA—1950s-60s

3.Third Wave

D. What are the different types of feminism?

E. Explain how the strategies for change are different for liberal as opposed to radical feminism.

F. What is meant by global or transnational feminism and why is it important today? Explain how and why explanations for women’s equality and strategies for change might differ between the global north and south. 

G. Explain the politics of the movement from women’s studies to women’s and gender studies. Why might the “women” still need to be retained?

H. What does it mean to say that women’s studies in its early years “lacked inclusivity”? How did Black women’s studies come about?

I. What is the future for WMST?

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