In this course we will explore the place of misogyny in U.S. media and politics. Early topics will include film noir, Cold War gender scapegoating, and lesbian pulp fiction. Subsequent topics will include the backlash against second-wave feminism, the rise of “post-feminism,” and the impact of reality TV and social media on feminist and antifeminist expression. We will conclude by examining how misogyny informs U.S. culture and politics in the Trump era. Throughout the course, we will consider how discourses of misogyny are inflected by white, cisgender, ableist, ageist, and class privilege.
1. Consistent attendance and active, informed participation in all class meetings. I will circulate an attendance sheet each day in class. Your signature on this sheet is factored into your overall evaluation for the course. Therefore, you must only sign for yourself. (10% of grade)
2. Weekly journal entries consisting of media images or news articles that relate to the topics under discussion. Please include a brief commentary on each document included in your journal. We will begin some class meetings by discussing your journals. (15% of grade)
3. Participation in online discussion of assigned primary and secondary sources. You must post to the online discussion at least 6 times over the course of the semester. When posting, you need only answer one of the discussion questions. You must complete at least three of these discussion posts before mid-semester. Ideally, you would post approximately once every other week. Posts must be made before the class period in which the relevant materials are discussed. (15% of grade)
4. Film review essay: Write an essay (4-5 pages) about misogyny in one of the following post-World War II films:
Double Indemnity (1944)
Mildred Pierce (1945)
Out of the Past (1947)
Strangers on a Train (1951)
Kiss Me Deadly (1955)
Rebel without a Cause (1956)
The Manchurian Candidate (1962)
Walk on the Wild Side (1962)
How does the film’s portrayal of woman characters relate to the pathological constructions of postwar femininity that we studied in the first week of class? For those who are interested in cinematic elements of film, see https://prezi.com/suzfrqtjuiqo/cinematic-elements-of-film/. Essays are due on Friday, March 2. (25% of grade)
5. Handmaid’s Tale Web Project: As a class, we will create a Wordpress site that contextualizes The Handmaid’s Tale in relation to historical events (late 1960s-1980s) and the present moment. Details forthcoming! Tentative project completion date: Wednesday, March 14. (10% of grade)
6. Take-home final essay (5-7 pages) due at 5:00 PM on May 22. (25% of grade)
Discussion Guidelines: A positive learning environment relies upon creating an atmosphere where diverse perspectives can be expressed, especially in a course that focuses on pressing and controversial issues. Each student is encouraged to take an active part in class discussions and activities. Honest and respectful dialogue requires a willingness to listen and tolerance of opposing points of view.
Accessibility: Any student who feels she/he/they may need an accommodation based on the impact of a disability should contact me to discuss your specific needs. Please also contact Student Accessibility Services to coordinate reasonable accommodations in this course.
Laptop Policy: Laptops may not be used during class. Please print out readings and/or reading notes for reference during class discussions. Exceptions to this policy may be made on an individual basis.
Honor Code: I take Middlebury’s Honor Code very seriously. Please sign your name to the Academic Honesty Statement when submitting your written work. If you have questions about proper citation, I am happy to help.
UNIT 1 – POSTWAR MISOGYNY
2/14: Freud’s Perspective on Women
Sigmund Freud, “Some Psychical Consequences of the Anatomical Distinction between the Sexes” (1925), in Beverly Clack, ed., Misogyny in the Western Philosophical Tradition: A Reader (Macmillan Press, 1999), 195-205.
Kendra Cherry, “Freud's Perspective on Women,” Verywell.com, September 18, 2014.
George Dvorsky, “Why Freud Still Matters When He Was Wrong about Almost Everything,” Gizmodo August 7, 2013.
Marynia Farnham and Ferdinand Lundberg, Modern Woman: The Lost Sex (1947), excerpts.
Philip Wylie, Generation of Vipers (1942), excerpt.
Herman N. Bundesen, “The Overprotective Mother,” [reprinted from LHJ 67(March 1950), 250] in Ladd-Taylor and Umansky, ed., Bad Mothers The Politics of Blame in Twentieth-Century America (1998), 268-270.
Optional: Jane Taylor McDonnell, “On Being the ‘Bad’ Mother of an Autistic Child,” in Ladd-Taylor and Umansky, ed., Bad Mothers The Politics of Blame in Twentieth-Century America (1998), 220-229
2/19: Momism and the Lavender Menace
Jennifer Terry, “’Momism’ and the Making of Treasonous Homosexuals,” in Ladd-Taylor and Umansky, ed., Bad Mothers The Politics of Blame in Twentieth-Century America (1998), 169-190.
Lillian Faderman, “The Love That Dare Not Speak Its Name,” Odd Girls and Twilight Lovers (orig. pub. 1991), 110-122.
2/21: Imitation of Life
Prior to today’s class, please watch the 1959 film version of Imitation of Life (Douglas Sirk, 1959). A copy is on reserve at Davis Family Library.
Lucy Fischer, “Three-Way Mirror: Imitation of Life,” in Fischer, ed., Imitation of Life (Rutgers, 1991), 3-28.
“The Bad and the Beautiful” in Fischer, ed., Imitation of life, 216-218.
Marina Heung, “’What’s the Matter with Sarah Jane?’: Daughters and Mothers in Douglas Sirk’s Imitation of Life,” in Lucy Fisher, ed., Imitation of Life, 302-324.
UNIT 2 – SECOND-WAVE FEMINISM
2/26: Second-Wave Feminists Theorize Misogyny
Andrea Dworkin, “Misogyny,” in Mankiller et al., ed., The Reader's Companion to U.S. Women's History (Houghton Mifflin, 1998).
Kate Millett, “Theory of Sexual Politics” (1970), 23-58.
Redstockings Manifesto (1969).
NOW Statement of Purpose (1966).
Boston Women’s Health Collective, Women and Their Bodies (1970), excerpt.
Audre Lorde, “The Master's Tools Will Never Dismantle the Master's House” (1979)
Margaret Atwood, The Handmaid’s Tale (1985), Chapters I-IV.
2/28: Antifeminist Contexts
From Antifeminism in America, vol. 3 (1997):
Marabel Morgan, “Excerpts from The Total Woman,” , 151-172.
Anita Bryant, “Lord, Teach Me To Submit,” 73-80.
Phyllis Schlafly, “Excerpts from The Power of the Positive Woman,” 101-113.
Jerry Falwell, “The Feminist Movement,” 136-150.
Atwood, The Handmaid’s Tale, Chapters V-VIII.
WEEK 4: Handmaid’s Tale and Pornography
3/5: Atwood’s Critique of Anti-Pornography Feminism
Atwood, The Handmaid’s Tale, Chapters IX-XII.
Robin Morgan, “Theory and Practice: Pornography and Rape” (1974).
Ann Snitow, “Retrenchment vs. Transformation” (1983).
3/7: Anti-censorship Feminists and Atwood’s Sexual Politics
Atwood, The Handmaid’s Tale, Chapters XIII-XV, Historical Notes.
Atwood, “What ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ Means in the Age of Trump.” The New York Times, March 10, 2017, sec. Book Review.
UNIT 3: POST-FEMINISM
WEEK 5: Backlash
Susan Faludi, “Introduction: Blame It on Feminism,” “Man Shortages and Barren Wombs,” and “The ‘Trends’ of Antifeminism” in Backlash (1991).
Katha Pollitt, “’Fetal Rights’: A New Assault on Feminism,” in Ladd-Taylor and Umansky, ed., Bad Mothers: The Politics of Blame in Twentieth-Century America (1998), 285-298.
Christina Hoff Sommers, Who Stole Feminism? (1994), excerpt.
3/14: Misogyny after the Second Wave
Kristin J. Anderson, Modern Misogyny: Anti-Feminism in a Post-Feminist Era (2015), 1-49, 74-105.
WEEK 6: Race, Class, and the Welfare Queen
3/19: Black Women and Welfare
Patricia Hill Collins, “Get Your Freak on: Sex, Babies, and Images of Black Femininity,” Black Sexual Politics (2004), 119-148.
Premilla Nadasen, “From Widow to ‘Welfare Queen’: Welfare and the Politics of Race,” Black Women, Gender and Families, Vol. 1, No. 2 (Fall 2007), pp. 52-77.
Anonymous, “Having a Baby Inside of Me Is the Only Time I’m Really Alive” (1965) in Harriet Siegerman, ed., The Columbia Documentary History of American Women Since 1941 (2007), 157-58.
3/21: Stigmatizing Poverty
Vivyan C. Adair, “Branded with Infamy: Inscriptions of Poverty and Class in the United States.” Signs 27, no. 2 (2002): 451–71.
Jennifer A. Sandlin, Jennie Stearns, Julie Garlen Maudlin, and Jake Burdick, “’Now I Ain’t Sayin’ She a Gold Digger’: Wal-Mart Shoppers, Welfare Queens, and Other Gendered Stereotypes of Poor Women in the Big Curriculum of Consumption,” Cultural Studies ↔ Critical Methodologies 11:5(2011), 464–482
George Will, “Mothers Who Don’t Know How,” [reprinted from Suddenly: The America Idea Abroad and at Home (1990)], in Ladd-Taylor and Umansky, ed., Bad Mothers, 280-282
WEEK 7: SPRING VACATION
4/2: Rap and/as Misogyny
bell hooks, (1994, February). Sexism and misogyny: Who takes the rap? Misogyny, gangsta rap, and The Piano. Z Magazine.
Kimberlé Williams Crenshaw, Beyond Racism and Misogyny: Black Feminism and 2 Live Crew,” in Meyers, ed., Feminist Social Thought: A Reader (1997), 246-263.
Terri M. Adams and Douglas B. Fuller , “The Words Have Changed But the Ideology Remains the Same: Misogynistic Lyrics in Rap,” Journal of Black Studies, Vol. 36, No. 6 (Jul., 2006), pp. 938-957.
Guillermo Rebollo-Gil and Amanda Moras, “Black Women and Black Men in Hip Hop Music: Misogyny, Violence and the Negotiation of (White-Owned) Space,” The Journal of Popular Culture, Vol. 45, No. 1, 2012, 118-132.
4/4: Sexual Harassment and Sexual Violence Targeting Black Women in the 1990s
Sierra Austin, Peggy Solic, Haley Swenson, and Gisell Jeter-Bennett, “Anita Hill Roundtable,” Frontiers, Vol. 35, No. 3 (2014), 65-74.
Ella Louise Bell, “Myths, Stereotypes, and Realities of Black Women: A Personal Reflection,” The Journal of Applied Behavioral Science; Jun 2004 [written circa 1992]; 40, 2, 146-159.
Patricia Hill Collins, “Assume the Position: The Changing Contours of Sexual Violence,” Black Sexual Politics (2004), 215-246.
WEEK 9: Mass Mediations of Sexual Harassment and Sexual Objectification
4/9: Can a Woman Harass a Man?
Prior to class, watch Disclosure (Barry Levinson, 1994)
Valerie S. Terry and Edward Schiappa, “Disclosing antifeminism in Michael Crichton's postfeminist Disclosure,” Journal of Communication Inquiry 23:1(January 1999), 68-89.
4/11: Fashion and Symbolic Annihilation
Sheila Jeffreys, Beauty and Misogyny: Harmful Cultural Practices in the West (Routledge, 2005), excerpt.
Jane Caputi, “The Pornography of Everyday Life,” in Gail Dines and Jean Humez, ed., Gender, Race, and Class in Media, 3rd edition (2011), 311-320.
Prior to class, please watch Jeanne Kilbourne, Killing Us Softly 4 (Kanopy streaming video).
UNIT 4: MISOGYNY IN THE NEW MILLENNIUM
4/16: Misogyny, Race, and State Violence
Andrea Smith, “Sexual Violence as a Tool of Genocide,” in Conquest: Sexual Violence and American Indian Genocide (2005), 7-34.
Gloria Anzaldúa,”We Call Them Greasers” and “To Live in the Borderlands Means You” from Borderlands/La Frontera: The New Mestiza (1987).
Mary Ann Tetreault, “The Sexual Politics of Abu Ghraib: Hegemony, Spectacle, and the Global War on Terror,” Feminist Formations, 18:3 (Fall 2006), 33-50.
Julia Serano, Excluded: Making Feminist and Queer Movements More Inclusive (2013), chapters 5-6.
Serano, “Trans Woman Manifesto,” Whipping Girl (2007).
Elías Cosenza Krell, “Is Transmisogyny Killing Trans Women of Color? Black Trans Feminisms and the Exigencies of White Femininity,” Transgender Studies Quarterly 4:2(May 2017), 226-242.
WEEK 11: Misogynoir / Men’s Rights
Kelly Macias, “Sisters in the Collective Struggle”: Sounds of Silence and Reflections on the Unspoken Assault on Black Females in Modern America,” Cultural Studies ↔ Critical Methodologies 15:4 (2015), 260–264 .
Moya Bailey, “Misogynoir in Medical Media: On Caster Semenya and R. Kelly,” Catalyst: Feminism, Theory, Technoscience, 2:2(2016), 1-31
Shanita Hubbard, “Opinion: Russell Simmons, R. Kelly, and Why Black Women Can’t Say #MeToo.” The New York Times, December 15, 2017.
Crunk Feminist Collection, excerpts:
“The Crunk Feminist Collective mission statement,” xvii-xviii
Aisha Durham, “Do we need a body count to count? Notes on the serial murders of Black women,” 22-24
Brittney C. Cooper, “Refereeing Serena: racism, anger, and US (Women's) tennis,” 45-47
Brittney C. Cooper, “SlutWalks vs. Ho Strolls,” 51-54
Eesha Pandit, “Reproductive injustice and the "War on Women," or an ode to the intersections,” 145-148
Aisha Durham, “Sticks, stones, and microphones: a melody of misogyny,” 178-79
4/25: Men’s Rights Movement
Paul Elam, “Why I don’t care what you think about my style,” January 30, 2018.
Michael Kimmel, “White men as victims: The men's rights movement “ and “Targeting Women” in Angry White Men (2017).
Emma Alice Jane, “‘Back to the Kitchen, Cunt’: Speaking the Unspeakable about Online Misogyny.” Continuum 28, no. 4 (July 4, 2014): 558–70.
Look at misogynist hashtags on social media (e.g., #Feminazis).
WEEK 12 – Men’s Rights Movement, Online Misogyny, and Gamergate
Bailey Poland, Haters: Harassment, Abuse, and Violence Online (2016), 1-34, 123-158.
Cherie Todd, “GamerGate and resistance to the diversification of gaming culture,” Women’s Studies Journal 29:1 (August 2015), 64-67.
Zoe Quinn, Crash Override (2016), excerpt.
Anita Sarkeesian, Tropes vs. Women in Video Games (youtube series).
5/2: Misogyny and the Hillary Clinton Candidacy
Karrin Vasby Anderson , “’Rhymes with Blunt’: Pornification and U.S. Political Culture,” Rhetoric and Public Affairs, Vol. 14, No. 2 (SUMMER 2011), pp. 327-368. [about 2008 election].
Jessica Ritchie, “Creating a Monster: Online media constructions of Hillary Clinton during the Democratic Primary Campaign, 2007–8,” Feminist Media Studies, 2013 Vol. 13, No. 1, 102–119
Kate Manne, “Why the Majority of White Women Voted for Trump.” AlterNet, November 13, 2017.
Hillary Clinton, “On Being a Woman in Politics,” What Happened (2017), 111-146.
For possible exploration in class:
Rebecca Traister, “Our National Narratives Are Still Being Shaped by Lecherous, Powerful Men,” The Cut, Oct. 27, 2017.
Traister, “This Moment Isn’t (Just) About Sex. It’s Really About Work,” The Cut, December 10, 2017.
Jill Filipovic, “Our President Has Always Degraded Women,” Time, December 5, 2017.
Jia Tolentino, “The Rising Pressure of the #MeToo Backlash,” The New Yorker, January 24, 2018.
Dubravka Zarkov and Kathy Davis, “Ambiguities and Dilemmas around #MeToo: #ForHow Long and #WhereTo?” European Journal of Women’s Studies 25:1 (February 1, 2018), 3–9.
November 17, 2017
Erin Vanderhoof, “Meet the First Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition of the #MeToo Era,” Vanity Fair, February 7, 2018.
5/9: Course Conclusion.