Discriminations are never a sign of a civilized society. What makes us civilized is our act of liberated kindness with other people beyond the man-made primitive citadels of gender, race, religion and sexual orientation.

Abhijit Naskar, Either Civilized or Phobic: A Treatise on Homosexuality (2017)

If our ideas about sexuality are socially constructed, how can we interact with each other in ways that are not shaped by stigmas, ignorance, and prejudice? What norms shape our views of the world and other beings? How can we think more expansively about sexuality beyond the binary of homo- and heterosexuality? How does sexuality animate – both limit and expand – our ways of forging relations, expressing desires, and experiencing intimacies.

WGS 270: Feminism and Sexualities is an introduction to sexual politics. Rather than examining discreet sexual identities, this course animates students to ask how, why, and with what effects sexual identities (i.e. heterosexual, homosexual, bisexual, or asexual) are produced. As such, we will seek a deeper understanding of the sexed and gendered assumptions that structure several debates including the feminist sex wars, pornography, sex work, reproductive justice, consent and sexual boundaries. To do so, we will examine classic second wave feminist theorists, such Gayle Rubin and Catherine Mackinnon, as well as more contemporary scholarship on sexuality, such as the work of Julia Serano and Dean Spade. Course readings, discussions, and written assignments will allow students to gain a deeper understanding of central sexual political debates and articulate the stakes of these debates.

Together in this course, we are going to explore big (and exciting!) ideas of how sexuality is a central site for the making of the modern individual and of (Western) society. Students will gain a deeper understanding of:

  • the socio-cultural production of sexual identities and modes of organising sexualities
  • sexed, gendered, classed, rac(ializ)ed, and ableist assumptions that inform intersectional analyses in the field of sexuality studies
  • feminist sex wars
  • the importance and impact of sexual boundaries on bodies
  • past and present debates about pornography, sex work, reproductive justice, and consent